The Organized Mind: Decision Overload

Why do we fall into habits? Why can we do things, like making the same meal every day,  without having to think about them? Why did Steve Jobs wear the same outfit every day? This quote helps us understand the importance of how many decisions we make per day.

In 1976, the average supermarket stocked 9,000 unique products; today that number has ballooned to 40,000 of them, yet the average person gets 80%-85% of their needs in only 150 different supermarket items. That means that we need to ignore 39,850 items in the store… All this ignoring and deciding comes with a cost. Neuroscientists have discovered that unproductivity and loss of drive can result from decision overload… Recent research shows that people who were asked to make a series of meaningless decisions of just this type- for example, whether to write with a  ballpoint pen or a felt-tip pen- showed poorer impulse control and lack of judgment about subsequent decisions. It’s as though our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions per day and once we reach that limit, we can’t make anymore, regardless of how important they are.” -Daniel Levitin (pg.5,6)

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