Why Wearing The Same Clothes Daily Improves Decision-Making

Here’s an observation: it seems that each day, we get a certain amount of capacity to make decisions — a “tank of fuel” if you will.

Each decision we make, no matter how small, subtracts from our available fuel.  At some point, we deplete our tank and decision-making becomes impossible or severely flawed.

If this is true, it means that to the degree you can minimize the number of decisions you make in a given day, the more you have left for important matters.

And this is why I’ve found that by wearing the same clothes every day (or by intentionally limiting my options), the amount I subtract from my tank is minimal (or nothing at all).  Instead of having to worry about matching shoes, socks, pants, belt, shirt, and coat, I provide myself with a set of clothes that are easy to mix-and-match (or nearly identical).

And this leaves me more fuel for the day.

I’ve also noticed that at the end of a long day of decision-making, I have little left in the tank for my wife. A simple question about a mundane household task can feel simply overwhelming.

Thus, if this crazy theory is true, then we should minimize BS for ourselves (like the hassle of having to put together a new outfit everyday), and therefore improve our ability to make important decisions (as well as have meaningful interactions with our loved ones).

What do you think?  Could wearing the same thing each day yield more capacity for decision-making?  Or is this a weak excuse on my part to explain poor fashion sense?

What If You Gave Yourself Permission To Rest?

Like many of you, I’ve worked hard all my life. I expect those I work with to do the same.

As I’ve gotten older and the demands on my time have continued to increase, I actively ask myself whether (or not) I’m working on the right stuff.  Is what I’m doing right now going to make any difference?

Similarly, when asking others to do something, I try to ensure they are like-wise focused on things that matter.  I’d hate to contribute to someone else wasting portions of their life.

Another way to look at this is that I don’t like to generate make-work. Make-work is the crap we do that consumes our time, but doesn’t really move us forward. It may make us feel good, since we’re working and moving around, but it’s really unnecessary and doesn’t make a darn difference.

As the past 48 hours have once again reminded me, a complete life includes much (much) more than just work.  And certainly a lot more than make-work.

We need our families. We need time to rest. We need to cultivate outside interests and hobbies. We need time to learn something new. And we need the time and space to pursue these things. 

That’s why I believe it is important to cultivate a spirit and discipline of sabbath, both literally and figuratively.

Colin Powell puts it like this:

Don’t run if you can walk; don’t stand up if you can sit down; don’t sit down if you can lie down, and don’t stay awake if you can go to sleep.


Where can you cultivate this spirit in your life?  What would happen if you gave yourself permission to rest?

John Rosendahl: 1955 – 9/1/2012

John Rosendahl, UCI

12/8/12: My Uncle’s Memorial

On September 1st, 2012, as I enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning in bed playing with my 4 month old daughter, we received news that my uncle had committed suicide, somewhere around 3:30 AM PT. Read more of this post

Things You Wish You Could Say At Work

The other day I heard one of our engineers say that he had to take vacation before the end of the year.  It seemed he actually wanted to work, but that he had to use the vacation — or he’d lose it.

Wait a sec.  Here’s a guy who wants to work, but for whom our “use it or lose it” policy is back-firing.  (Of course, he could still take time off and work anyway [I won’t get into that here], and that’s not the point.)

But before I get to my point: I am a big believer in taking time off.  In my earlier days, I had a very hard time pulling myself away.  I went through what felt like extreme emotional duress, worrying about this, that, and the other thing.  I couldn’t sleep, focus, or be present with the people around me.

I was somewhere else and nowhere at all.  Maybe you know the feeling.

But over the years, something strange happened.  I started learning how to unwind, and began forcing myself to disconnect.  And in doing so, I didn’t become lazy (one of my fears), or miss out on something (another fear).  Instead, my thinking was enriched, my soul refreshed, and my body renewed.  Vacation and time away is a wonderful thing and can actually improve your results.  I encourage everyone around me to do it and feel good about it.

So here’s the point — something I wish we could say at work: Why do we even have a vacation policy at all?

I wish we (and other companies) had the guts to implement a policy like this:

  • Official Policy: Be Reasonable And Use Your Head.  That’s it.
  • What does that mean?  It means we don’t track vacation or sick days.  Take as little or as many as you need to feel creative and productive.
  • This doesn’t mean people take time off without getting their job done.  Instead, it means that we track their results  – and people make sure their work gets done.  They’re adults.

I’ve thrown this idea out to people, and I usually get the same question: “Dave, you’re smoking something.  What do we do if someone abuses this policy?

I think that’s easy: We’d let them know they aren’t meeting our “be reasonable and use your head” policy, and we’d say “bye-bye” if it doesn’t improve.  They wouldn’t fit in and I fully expect their peers would call them out.   I realize there are legal implications that would have to be worked out (especially here in CA), but I feel that (maybe?) the right people would be attracted by a policy like this.

Your turn: What do you think of doing away with vacation policies?  What are some things you wish you could say at work, but don’t have the guts to utter?

Why Are Homeschoolers Weird?

Here’s something I like to do: When I’m with a group of people discussing our childhoods, such as where we went to school, sports we played, etc., I’ll say something like “Did you know any weird homeschooled kids?”

People will often say some of the stereotypical things about homeschooled kids.  Things like: they’re odd ducks and socially awkward; they make their own clothes and electricity.  I’ll usually throw in a few wisecracks like “Oh, and they don’t bathe” or “they’re usually freaks!”.

Then, once everyone has poked fun at homeschoolers, I’ll say: “I was homeschooled.”


The awkwardness is pure awesome.  But it’s true.  My mom homeschooled me until the seventh grade.

Inevitably someone will say, “Oh.  That.explains.a.lot.”

Wait a sec.  What does that mean?  I’m not offended, but over the years I’ve heard a number of commonly believed things about homeschoolers.  Some are true, others are blatantly ignorant.  Like anything, there are pros and cons.

I don’t know about other homeschoolers, but here are a few “pros” homeschooling gave me:

  • The realization I could teach myself anything.  I think this is the most important gift my childhood education gave me.  This might be why I don’t understand what people mean when they say, “I don’t know how.”  I have a hard time understanding how this is possible, especially with the accessability of information (have you heard? they have internet on computers now!).
  • How to interact with adults.  This came in handy years later as I made my way through my first few jobs, and while starting a company in my late teens and another in my early 20’s.  I never really felt out of place (in fact, I usually felt more at home with older people).
  • How (and why) to work at something I love.  My first passion was music.  It required hard work, dedication, and sacrifice — but I saw results.  Being exposed to this cause-and-effect dynamic equipped me for the work required by entrepreneurship.  In addition, I was blessed with the gift of learning that fulfillment can be found in doing something you love, despite the hard work.

Those are just a few of the things I believe to be true about my homeschooling experience.  Each of these things have deeply impacted me.  Now that my wife and I have a child of our own, we’ve discussed what kind of schooling experience we want to give our daughter, and whether homeschooling might be an option for us.

What about you?  Do you think homeschoolers are weird?  If so, why?

I’m Thankful For Music

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US.  We often think about things we’re thankful for around this time of year.  For us, this year has brought so many things … including the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Abigail.  More on her in a later post.

As we woke up slowly and lazily yesterday morning, I thought about how much music has impacted me.  It was such a big part of my life as a child.  It gave me a deep sense of what it means to work hard for something you love.

A few years ago my wife had the foresight to transfer an old VHS tape to DVD.  It contains a recording of me playing the first movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto.  As we were cleaning out the garage this week, we found the DVD.  Here it is on Youtube.  I’m thankful for music.

What about you?  What are you thankful for?

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