How Decision Fatigue Makes You Work Worse When You Work More

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Planning on getting arrested anytime soon? Better hope the judge has had a sandwich.

Researchers in 2011 studied more than 1,100 decisions from eight Israeli judges serving on a parole board. Their findings were surprising: the biggest factor determining how lenient a judge would rule was how long it had been since the judge had a snack or lunch break.

“Basically, right after a short break, judges came in with more positive attitudes and made more lenient decisions. As they burned up their reserves of energy, they began to make more and more decisions that maintained the status quo,” wrote Jeff Sutherland, CEO of Scrum, Inc. and author of “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.

The problem: decision fatigue. The mental work of making all those high-stakes decisions, one after another, wore down the judges.

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How Distractions At Work Take Up More Time Than You Think

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Make an estimate on how many times are you are distracted during an average work day.

Now take that number and multiply it by 25.

That’s how many minutes of concentration you’re losing. It takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to return to the original task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine.

Multiple studies confirm this. Distractions don’t just eat up time during the distraction, they derail your mental progress for up to a half hour afterward (that’s assuming another distraction doesn’t show up in that half hour).

In other words, that “30 seconds to check Twitter” isn’t just 30 seconds down the drain. It’s 25 minutes and 30 seconds.

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Why I Ignored a Late-Night Email From My New Boss (And You Should Too)

 

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It came, like most terrible and dangerous things, in the night.

OK so like 9:30.

But late enough. It arrived through the buzz of my phone. A new message in my inbox. A message from my new boss. And on week two of my tenure here at iDoneThis. The subject matter was nothing time sensitive, he wanted to introduce me to Jimmy Daly, an excellent writer and content marketer (whom you can find here).

I immediately opened the email and started typing a reply. I was excited. I felt that rush of opportunity. That ah-ha here’s my chance moment. Then I stopped myself. I deleted the draft and put my phone in my pocket. This is dangerous, I realized.

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Make Statistics More Meaningful By Using Fewer of Them

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Let’s play a game. Pretend I’m pitching you a fictional business.

“Since launching 29 months ago in 12 cities across 4 states we’ve acquired 208,000 users and 195,000 daily active users averaging a 10.5 percent monthly user increase over the last 7 months.”

Now here comes the important part.

There were a lot of statistics listed there, right?

Close your eyes and remember as many as you can.

How’d you do? There were seven statics in that paragraph.

Did you remember all seven? Three? Any of them?

There’s a good chance you didn’t. Let’s try this again.

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Avoid Workplace Disagreements By Getting Things In Writing

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I was talking to a friend, who is an attorney, some years ago. We were discussing a small disagreement I was having with a coworker. The friend gave me some advice that I’ve practiced ever since.

“Have him send you an email. Make him write out exactly what his request is.”

Lawyers love this technique, he told me. And the benefits are two-fold.

For one, writing forces clear thinking. It will become obvious if someone doesn’t have a clear idea what they’re asking once they try to put it down on paper. And secondly, should some disagreement on the topic come up in the future, you will have a clear record of what was said and when. There will be no squabbling over who said what.

It’s an amazing tool that can make a big difference in your personal and professional life. The phrase “get it in writing” often conjures thoughts of a lengthy contact, formal documents with signatures and lawyers involved. It doesn’t have to be that way. “Get it in writing” can be something as simple as an e-mail.

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7 websites that make you happier and more productive at work

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I’m going to let you in on a secret. A lot of people are trying to distract you at work.

A. Lot. Of. People.

OK, so it’s not exactly the world’s biggest secret. But it is a really unique and modern problem.

Office workers in the 1970s didn’t have people kicking in their door to show them a cat video (though it would be awesome if that actually happened. I’d watch that on YouTube). Farmers in the 1800s didn’t have carnival barkers showing up in their field, promising mind blowing facts (number 6 will SHOCK you!) if they would just put down their shovels and stop working for a while.

Such distractions would have seemed insane at the time. None of them would have believed this would be the environment their children and grandchild would face at the workplace.

Sadly, here we are. Distracting our days away. It makes sense that the workplace is where we’re most vulnerable. Work is where we’re most likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed and not in control. New research shows that viral content generates more activity on social media when it triggers emotions people feel in control of, like inspiration, rather than emotions people feel overwhelmed by, like fear.

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The Comprehensive Guide to Remote Working

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Remote working can be amazing. Freedom, flexibility, travel, family. It can be an excellent way to live and work.

But it doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it.

That’s why we teamed up with Sqwiggle to create this free eBook on remote working.

Because we love remote working — at iDoneThis, we’ve been remote from day one. We know it’s not easy.

Most of us were not taught how to work remotely, we learned by doing. There were no classes in college teaching us how to work from home, or from a cafe in Berlin. Our parents, naturally, assumed we’d work in cubicles just like them.

There’s a lot to learn. So we created this comprehensive guide.

Build the work life of your dreams and download your free guide now.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll be learning:

  • How to stay high energy all day long.
  • How working alone can make you more social.
  • How to build the perfect home office.
Fill out my online form.

P.S. If you liked this article, you should subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll email you a daily blog post with actionable and unconventional advice on how to work better.

The Scientifically-Backed Best Ways to Spend a 15-Minute Break

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We have all worked with the marathoner office worker. The one with eyes glued to a spreadsheet all day, or frantically taking calls for hours on end.

Or maybe that’s you. Maybe you measure hard work in raw hours logged. Maybe you put in 12 solid hours and eat at your desk. Maybe you care so much about work you haven’t taken a lunch break in months.

Maybe you’re terrible at your job. Ever think about that?

Or at least you could be hurting your productivity. There’s a growing amount of research suggesting that work punctuated by short breaks leads to better focus and better productivity.

Also, working for uninterrupted hours on end — especially if done sitting down —can be terrible for your health.

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How to Transition to Working From Home

 

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You’re more likely than your parents to work from home one day.

Or from a Starbucks, a shared working space, you get the idea. In fact, 4.2 million American workers joined the remote working movement from 1997-2012, according to the Census Bureau.

What this means is that many of us who started careers in a cubicle and necktie are switching over to the pajamas and home office.

It’s a big change. And it’s not easy.

Thankfully, the trail has been sufficiently blazed by workers who have been remote working for years, some for decades. Many of those brave pioneers have documented their experiences. So let’s explore some of the best advice from remote workers who have learned what works, and what to avoid.

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Why You Should Always Write Down Your Bad Ideas

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Most of Thomas Edison’s ideas were bad.

At least they weren’t good enough to make it out of the laboratory. Or from the patent office to the product line. Thousands of ideas, never to see the light of day.

An associate of Edison’s, Walter S. Mallory, recalled asking the inventor about this, according to a 1910 biography “Edison: His Life and Inventions.” Mallory recalled that Edison had been working for months on a nickel-iron battery. Mallory visited Edison in his shop and learned his friend had tried more than 9,000 experiments for the battery and none had been successful.

“In view of this immense amount of thought and labor, my sympathy got the better of my judgment, and I said: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’”

Mallory sympathized with Edison. He felt sorry for him that so many ideas had not yet produce one result. Edison saw it differently.

“Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.'”

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