There is one thing that has never changed about Mark Zuckerberg since he launched Facebook and became one of the youngest billionaires in the world: The grey shirt he wears every day.
Here’s his explanation: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. I’m in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
And Zuckerberg isn’t the only one that has adopted a minimalistic approach to clothing.
Former US president Barack Obama is known for only wearing two types of suits: Grey and blue.
Albert Einstein bought several versions of the same grey suit so that he wouldn’t have to choose every morning.
Steve Jobs was known for wearing the same outfit to work every day.
Looks like they are onto something.
By cutting down the amount of decisions they have to make on a daily basis, Zuckerberg and others reduce the effects of ego depletion – a psychological phenomenon first discovered by social psychologist Roy Baumeister.
Ego depletion is the idea that willpower is a limited resource that is used up anytime you resist an impulse. When you wake up in the morning, you have the maximum of willpower available. Anytime you resist the thousands of temptations around you or need to decide between 10 different pairs of shirts and pants, you use up some of your willpower.
When your willpower decreases too much, you experience what psychologists call decision fatigue – a decline in the quality of your decisions. The more decisions you make, the more tired your brain gets, leading you to give less thought to choices and go for the easier, safer, or default choice.
In order to do the best work you are capable of, you need a maximum of willpower to take action, follow through on your goals, and say no to social media and gossiping with your colleagues.
Reducing the amount of daily decisions you have to make can help you do that. Here’s some practical examples:
Cut down your wardrobe and only leave the most important items. Instead of having hundreds of things to choose from, pull a Mark Zuckerberg and only wear the same kinds of shirts. Or at least reduce your choices to a vital few that are easy to choose from. I usually make it simple: The first shirt I pick up that looks at least halfway decent is the one, and I never think back.
Have similar meals every day. Having to decide what to eat, when to eat it, or how the hell to even make it can consume vast amounts of willpower for something rather trivial. Instead of making different things every day, find a few healthy options that are easy to make from and simply choose from them for the majority of your meals. It might not be the most fun, but can save a lot of willpower (and time).
Schedule your workouts in advance. Like with food, having to decide when, how, where, and what to work out can take up much of your willpower. Instead of spending your willpower on these choices, plan your workouts for the next week in advance. Specify exactly when, where, and what you will do with whom, so that all you need to do during the week is get up and do it.
Plan your day in advance. Procrastination and boredom often occur when you don’t know what to do with your time and don’t have an exact plan for what to do. You can overcome this in advance by always having a game plan so that all you need to do is show up.
Focus on the vital few key tasks instead of dozens of different ones. Starting and switching between projects takes up your time, energy, and focus, so make sure to stay with one task until completed and then attack the next.
Eat right. Studies have shown that low glucose levels in your blood can cause decision fatigue and therefore decrease your willpower. Before any important decisions in your life, make sure to eat right or at least have a little snack to boost your willpower.
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