You know how they always say a good breakfast is key to a productive day? New research is pointing to some new truths in that statement. They've found that sugar (glucose) helps restore some energy for people and that they can demonstrate increased willpower again after being depleted. Of course, eating ice cream isn't the solution to everything - maybe getting good, healthy food at the beginning of the day will not only help the physical body, but the mind as well.
A colleague pointed me to this NY Times Magazine article by John Tierney, Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?. The short form of decision fatigue is that people get worn out when making decisions and tend to shift to automatic after a while - shift to the default option, rather than making choices. I have seen this in business or in volunteer situations: the longer a meeting goes, the less people tend to deliberate and discuss a topic up for a decision.
The longer form description from the article:
Decision fatigue is the newest discovery involving a phenomenon called ego depletion, a term coined by the social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister in homage to a Freudian hypothesis. Freud speculated that the self, or ego, depended on mental activities involving the transfer of energy. He was vague about the details, though, and quite wrong about some of them (like his idea that artists “sublimate” sexual energy into their work, which would imply that adultery should be especially rare at artists’ colonies). Freud’s energy model of the self was generally ignored until the end of the century, when Baumeister began studying mental discipline in a series of experiments, first at Case Western and then at Florida State University.
The really long form is in the article, or in Baumeister & Tierney's upcoming book on the topic.
[Photo: "Coca-Cola: Relieves Fatigue" by Brent Moore]