Use habits, routines, boundaries, and principles to automate decisions that align with our vision and goals.
We make thousands of decisions daily that can reduce our productivity and drain our energy. It’s unrealistic to function in this fast-paced world if each choice requires a deep, lengthy analysis and a decision. Effective people automate as many decisions as possible and make the one decision that decides many others. Developing habits supporting our purpose will automate our daily behavior instead of spending energy on choices. Failure to adopt a mindset that decides automatically will keep you mired in the trivial many and from realizing your potential.
Our time and energy are the most valuable assets to make each day productive and accrue value toward our purpose in life. We can save valuable time by automating decisions that do not justify deep thought or contribute to important life outcomes. For example, in most cases, our clothes have little to do with our productivity or ability to bring our best to a task.
Another aspect of automating decisions is internalizing our values and vision for our future selves so it is easy to recall. With that top of mind, we accelerate decisions and improve the quality of decisions that align with our stated direction.
Automating choices requires a mindset of discipline that enables you to remain committed to routines and habits that deliver the outcomes you seek. The books and articles in the Resources section will help you build good habits that align with your purpose and break bad habits that steal valuable time.
1. Simplify daily choices.
Reduce your wardrobe to clothes that can easily mix and match.
Wear the same type of clothes to reduce choice and place them out the night before.
Plan your diet for the upcoming week and use meal prep to minimize time.
Plan your work calendar at least a day in advance.
2. Hone a daily work routine into a habit.
Analyze your daily work routine for at least one week to identify decision points.
Understand the time and energy required to make these decisions.
Experiment with routines that maximize productivity and impact.
3. Set a policy of what you will not do.
Write down those activities and commitments that do not align with your purpose.
Share your policy with friends, family, and work-related stakeholders.
This de-personalizes the message and eliminates the need to explain yourself.
4. Decide with your values.
Memorize your top 5-7 values.
Make values visible where you spend time each day to reinforce your commitment.
Automate and improve choice by filtering these through your values when deciding.
The time between the choice and your response is your disciplined choice.
5. Decide with your boundaries.
Decide “No” for situations that violate your boundaries.
Decide “Yes” for situations that are congruent with your boundaries.
These are your boundaries - you don’t need to explain them to others - don’t negotiate.
6. Decide with your principles.
Document your principles - the rules for making decisions to get what you want out of life.
Put the decision through your rule set to guide an answer.
7. Decide with your purpose.
Document your purpose - what you’re driven to achieve.
Say “No’ to decisions that prevent you from taking a step toward your destiny.
Say “Yes” to decisions that power your purpose.
Experiment With This
To understand the volume, energy, and time required in making choices, write down your choices each day over one week. Analyze these choices to see if they can be classified into a category of choices that are essentially the same decision. What choice could I automate each day that would help my focus and productivity?
Commit to developing one “keystone habit” that starts a process to reprogram all of the other routines of your life (Chapter 4 – Keystone Habits in the book The Power of Habit).
Align your activities and decisions with your personal vision statement. What habits do I need to eliminate that waste my time and do not contribute to my purpose and goals? What decisions do I make out of guilt that do not align with my purpose?