City life is difficult. So are its decisions.
More correctly, the city asks for life. Every environment has its difficulty, whether you live in the rural area or not. But city life is difficult for another reason.
We make a lot of decisions in city life. We have to.
Before we get to why we make better decisions in the morning, take a look at “Why Hard vs. Big Decisions are Different Things” if you haven’t already.
Let’s start with a big distinction on decisions.
The number, difficulty and magnitude of the decisions we make in the city life are great. So, we have to make many small and big decisions. Because we have to choose from many options and also make many calculations when choosing; our decisions are not easy. These decisions hold the potential of creating big effects in the working of our daily lives.
When thinking about topics like this, I believe separating what we can and cannot affect brings a clarity of mind. Let’s do it now. We don’t have the chance to change these dynamics of city life, the chaos of daily life and this setting (at least in the short term). But we have an effect over one thing: At what point of the day we make which kinds of decisions.
Decision Making Energy
What would happen if a sportsperson who will have a boxing match at 6 p.m. ran a marathon in the morning?
How would a person who has a very important business meeting in the evening perform after having stressful and tiring meetings throughout the day?
How creative could a writer who is trying to write on a very important matter be in the evening if he translates for 10 hours straight before?
How would an evening discussion on a sensitive matter between partners go if one of them had arguments at work all day and got exhausted?
As all these examples show, there is no one single source on which all our daily acts feed. On the contrary, we know that we have energy sources for every different situation we are in. For example, we make an effort to avoid the foods we want when we’re dieting. There’s then less resources left for other things that require our willpower-patience (Resource 1, Resource 2). After showing great patience on what we can and cannot eat the whole day, you might run out of your autocontrol energy by night even though your physical energy is still high. A situation like this might cause you to jump at a person who gets ahead of you without signalling in the traffic.
In a very similar situation, we know the “Decision Making Energy” has a limited source as well. It is called Decision Fatigue now in literature. So it is; getting tired of making decisions. The coiner of the term is psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, according to this NYTimes article.
It’s not surprising. Take a moment to imagine all the micro decisions you make the whole day. We make hundreds of small and big decisions in just one day. Some decisions may consume especially high decision making energy.
If you’re in business life, image you’re trying to decide how to bring two departments who have a high tension between them in the same meeting table. Moreover, you need to choose all your words very carefully as the conductor of the meeting.
Or imagine you’re a student and you have just left an important multiple-choice exam. How healthy the decisions you make right after this can be?
This is why it’s better to make a decision important for your live in the early hours of the morning. (Just make sure you get awakened.)
A research had shown the decisions that judges in the USA make in the mornings were more positive than those they made in towards the evening. These results were quite a deal a couple of years ago. I’m sharing below the image that summarizes the situation. Judging quality decreases from the morning hours to the evening. (And we see the worst decisions being made right before meal breaks. It must be the low blood sugar.)
City life is difficult. We have to make a lot of decisions. Our decision making energy is limited. Inevitably, we spend most of it from the morning till the evening. If you will make important decisions about life (partner, business, children, friendship, education etc.), choose a morning time to keep the potential of using all your intelligence, attention and interpretation skills.
(This article was first published in nbeyin.com.tr under the title “Make Important Decisions in the Morning: Here is the Scientific Reason”.)