Have you ever had difficulty focusing or making a decision? Little things like "What should I wear to a gig?" or "What will I make for dinner?" Or big things like "Should I take on a part-time job?" or "Where should I live so that I don't have to commute so much but can still afford a good neighborhood?"
Every day we have to make decisions.
But the human brain can only make a certain amount of choices every day before we begin to have what psychologists now refer to as "Decision Fatigue."
Because the brain is a muscle, like all muscles, the more it gets used and flexed, the more fatigued it will become. In fact, using our brain for the mere process of making a choice uses more energy than the deliberation process and something as small as self-control in making a shopping purchase is noticeably limited based on the amount of decisions made prior.
This drop-off in self-control, self-awareness and decision fatigue is why many CEO's and world leaders (Mark Zuckerburg, President Obama, Steve Jobs) limit their wardrobe choices daily to one or two outfits. Why waste a good decision on something so trivial?
So if a musician primarily works at night, how do we avoid using up all our good decision energy before our evening gigs and begin to make our best artistic decisions?
In fact an average 40% of a person's life can be directly linked to habits.
By creating habits we can go on auto-pilot and save brain power, self-control, deductive reasoning and decision making for choices that matter or fast adaptability on a gig.
For instance, my morning routine every day looks like this:
- 6:30 - alarm goes off, 15 minute body scan meditation and intention setting for the day
- 6:45 - Yoga
- 7:30ish - Breakfast: 1/3 scoop oatmeal with chia seeds and an egg, pour over coffee
- 7:45ish - Journaling and Bible reading, gratitude list
- 8:30ish - Start work by clearing out emails and begin writing for a three hour block
Because it's so deeply ingrained at this point, if I miss a day, or even two, it's easy to get back in. On days when I miss it, if it's not for work, it's difficult to get engaged again. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I could or should be doing, battling the depressive tendency to just stay in bed, and when I finally make a decision, I spend the rest of the day lamenting the things I didn't accomplish.
If you feel like you are constantly battling decision making in song-writing or depending on an extra coffee to get you through a foggy late-night brain, it might be because you have Decision Fatigue, having wasted all your good decisions on trivial matters during the day. To unlock your best brain function, develop habits that allow you the freedom to make decisions that matter and achieve your greatest creative potential.
Less pain and more music!