The Billionaire Uniform: Really, the Same Every.Single.Day?
We were recently reading about billionaire Mark Cuban’s daily habits. Looking at the routines of a lot of powerful and rich people, a common denominator is that they all tightly monitor and structure their time, waking up at the same time each day with the same daily routine.
As repetitive such a lifestyle must be, it’s clear that keeping yourself to a schedule will help keep you on task and productive.
Across the board, it seems like structure and consistency are the commonalities in their schedules and habits. But a bit of an idiosyncratic commonality among a lot of powerful people is their wardrobe.
Picture Steve Jobs. What is he wearing? Now, Mark Zuckerberg. You probably put Steve Jobs in jeans and a black turtleneck, and Zuckerberg in jeans and a grey t-shirt. Mark Cuban reportedly wears his gym clothes to sleep, and routinely wears the same or similar outfits on typical days.
Most people write this off as just a weird tidbit about an otherwise successful person. Or they just chalk it up to a person being so creative that they don’t worry about fashion. Both factors probably play a role, but the end results are the same.
They don’t need to waste energy or time choosing an outfit.
“So what,” you might say. “How long will it take them? An extra five minutes a day to look through their wardrobe and pick a different color shirt?” Maybe. But, studies show that even that bit of time and thought power can add up.
It’s known as decision fatigue, and it suggests that you grow tired of deciding the more decisions you need to make.
A New York Times article delved deeper into the study of decision fatigue and mentioned this scenario as an example. Two prisoners were scheduled for the same day to have parole hearings by the same judge, parole board, criminologist and social worker. Both prisoners were seeking parole for similar fraud cases, after having served a similar sentence and were both from similar backgrounds.
One was seen by the judge and team first thing in the morning, the other was not seen until about 4:30 in the afternoon. Despite the fact that the two prisoners had nearly identical cases, were of the same ethnic and sociological background, the prisoner in the morning was granted parole and the prisoner from the late afternoon was not.
The only explanation researchers can agree upon in this scenario and similar ones is that decision fatigue played a role.
After a full day of hearing cases, getting different opinions, weighing options and deciding fates, judges and the parole boards of over one thousand such boards studied were more likely to make less consistent decisions late in the day.
It was part of a larger study of decision fatigue done by Jonathan Levav of Stanford and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University that found that everyone from the rich and powerful, to regular folk suffer from decision fatigue after making decisions throughout the day, and were more likely to make erratic, inconsistent or questionable decisions later in the day.
With this knowledge, powerful leaders like Mark Cuban and former President Barack Obama made the conscious decision NOT to choose what they wore to “save” some decision power for later in the day. The same goes for what food to eat, and what their schedule was like.
They rely upon predetermined schedules and plans so that their decision power is saved for the major consequential decisions that each day brings for them.
We’ll delve further into decision fatigue, soon. But for now, consider how you can reduce the amount of decisions you make per day - and try not to make an important one late at night.