Mental Model

Each day we make thousands of decisions that can reduce our productivity and drain our energy. It’s not realistic to function in this fast-paced world if each choice requires analysis and then a decision. Effective people automate as many decisions as they can and make the one decision that decides many others. The development of habits that support our purpose will automate our daily behavior instead of expending energy on choices. Failure to adopt a mindset that decides automatically will keep you mired in the trivial many and from realizing your potential.


Our time and energy are the most valuable assets we have to make each day productive and accrue value toward our purpose in life. We can save valuable time by automating decisions that do not justify deep thought or contribute to important outcomes in our life. For example, in most cases, the clothes we wear have little to do with our productivity or ability to bring our best to a task.

Another aspect of automating decisions is by internalizing our values and the vision we have for our future selves so it is easy to recall. With that top of mind, we not only accelerate decisions but improve the quality of decisions that align with our stated direction.

Automating choices requires a mindset of discipline that enables you to remain committed to routines and habits that deliver the outcomes you are seeking. The books and articles in the Resources section will help you build good habits that align with your purpose and break bad habits that steal valuable time.


1 – Simplify daily choices.

Reduce your wardrobe to clothes that can easily mix and match.

Wear the same type of clothes to reduce choice and place them out the night before.

Plan your diet for the upcoming week and use meal prep to reduce time.

Plan your work calendar at least a day in advance.

2 – Hone a daily work routine into a habit.

Analyze your work routine each day for at least one week to identify decision points.

Understand the time and energy required to make these decisions.

Experiment with routines that maximize productivity and impact.

Use the proven techniques of atomic habits and tiny habits to build habits that last.

3 – Set a policy of what you will not do.

Write down those activities and commitments that do not align with your purpose.

Share your policy with friends, family, and work-related stakeholders.

This de-personalizes the message and eliminates the need to explain yourself.

4 – Load your values and purpose into memory for quick recall.

Memorize your top 5-7 values and a short purpose statement.

Make these visible where you spend time each day to reinforce your commitment.

Automate and improve choice by filtering these through your values and purpose.

The time between the choice and your response is your disciplined choice.

Experiment With This

  • To understand the volume, energy, and time required in making choices, write down the choices you make each day over the course of one week. Analyze these choices to see if they can be classified into a category of choices that are essentially the same decision. What choice could I automate each day that would help my focus and productivity?
  • Commit to developing one “keystone habit” that starts a process to reprogram all of the other routines of your life (Chapter 4 – Keystone Habits in the book The Power of Habit).
  • Align your activities and decisions with your personal vision statement. What habits do I need to eliminate that waste my time and do not contribute to my purpose and goals? What decisions am I making out of guilt that does not align with my purpose?


Finding the One Decision That Removes 100 Decisions (or, Why I’m Reading No New Books in 2020) by Tim Ferriss

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg, PhD