I’m reading a great book, Willpower, by Baumeister. We start each morning with a pool of psychic energy, which gets depleted during the day each time we resist a temptation or make a decision. So we become more and more vulnerable to impulses and poor judgement as the day progresses. Fortunately, the energy can be replenished by a nap, a break, meditation, or glucose, and then by sleep at night. If you use willpower for a task, your will power will be weaker for the next task, and so on. All of this is supported by experiments.
I’m reminded of buying a car, which involves many decisions and where the salesman leaves you sitting in a small room while he “consults” with his boss over and over, until you’re so tired and frustrated and bored you’ll agree to almost anything just to get out of there. Next time, I’m not going to sit there, but get up and walk outside, and eat a snack, and play with my iphone while I’m waiting.
I was startled to find that many of the ideas are from David Allen’ s book, Getting It Done, and are very similar to mine in my book. Allen talks about lists and other strategies. I especially like his idea of NA, next action, which is similar to my ‘small steps’. He doesn’t allow just listing an item on the to do list, but you have to write down the next action, what you actually need to do to get moving on the task. This is like my example of not writing down ‘d0 the taxes’, but instead, ‘gather up all the checks’, which is the first step, or the next action.