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  • Jeremy Cooper

The challenges of modern life

This week I wanted to shine a bit of a light on all the distractions and decisions that are now challenging your life and why decision fatigue has such a big impact.

I wasn’t aware of this till someone pointed out about Netflix and that you can easily spend 25-30 minutes selecting a TV show to start watching and then realise it’s only 40 minutes long. You spend so long choosing that you end up with less time enjoying yourself which was the whole point of watching Netflix in the first place

There are 3 main challenges as I see it:

1. Making more decisions

In the past we went to school or work in uniform, had 4 tv channels to watch (aging myself), there was no internet, there were less consumables to buy and the selection of food was a lot smaller. However, we were still as happy or maybe happier!

Now just start to consider everything you decide on in a day and you can suddenly realise how it’s so easy to get burnt out making them all. You wake up and need to choose your clothes, you’ve got a fridge and cupboard full of breakfast choices and then you need to decide what podcast, audio book or music to listen to on your commute, if you have one at the moment, and you’re not even at work yet. How are you supposed to make important decisions on late meetings? Working with US from UK can be tough especially west coast as they are all up and fresh and often can’t understand why you’re feeling exhausted, struggling to decide and easily triggered (maybe just me)

It's estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day 🤯

2. Your attention is under attack

If only we just had decisions to make during a day! We now have all the distractions coming from email, continuously pinging, phone message, and the dopamine hit when someone likes your social media post from the weekend or your favourite film star just posted something random about Herbalife 🤣🤬

3. You suffer personal energy Crisis

You’re continually busy so you reach for caffeine and snacks to get you through the day, and you might even ‘treat yourself’ to a horrific energy drink, the sweet smell of some of those is so off-putting. This keeps you going on a high for a while then you crash, at which point you need to either take another ‘hit’ or have the crash, feel rubbish and not do your best work. Then at the end of the day all you want to do is lay on the sofa and spend 30 minutes choosing what to watch on Netflix

So, what can you do about it?

1. Prep your day

This has had such a positive impact on my life and my ability to take some decisions out of my hands from the start. Each week my wife and I plan the meals for the week which means we know in the morning what needs to come out of the freezer or any prep to do, also we make better/healthier food choices as the meal is already set and not a rush at the end of the day when take out sounds so appealing. I also use MyFitnessPal to plan my daily food which keeps my health on track and reduces lunchtime procrastination. Finally, I set my clothes out the night before as even selecting shirt, trousers etc. is a decision that I can do in the evening rather than wasting one of my good decision the next day

2. Deal with your distractions

These are super easy to do but often hard to stick to

1. Turn off phone notifications or just put it in another room as this removes the temptation to check it as even the screen lighting up can break your chain of thought

2. Give yourself 15 minutes every couple of hours to feed the brain with the distractions you crave. Go look at your social media but don’t infinity scroll, this fills the void but don’t let it run away with you

3. Turn off the email bing/icon/notification and ideally just check your email a few times per day to reduce the distraction but also aid your productivity as you are timebound on when to reply, so you try to get more done in your “email time”

3. Reduce the caffeine and sugar

When you have these it give you a peak of productivity, focus and energy but as this starts to wear off you then hit the troughs which makes you lower than your baseline and you start to crave some more. The best approach is to reduce your caffeine intake and sugar to keep yourself more balanced, I’m down to just having a caffeinated coffee first thing in the morning and maybe a pre-workout, and it has made a huge difference. Try swapping your energy source of choice for some light exercise or a 15-minute walk, this gives a great energy boost and is a huge benefit to wellbeing. Just a note of caution, people often experience headaches as they wean themselves off caffeine which is normal and doesn’t last long

These are some great little insights that I’ve used to improve my focus and productivity. Give a couple a go and see how you get on. I’d love to hear your feedback and wins

Just remember with all of these, don’t do too many at 1 time and it can take 21-30 days to build a solid habit, so stick at it as the reward is worth it!