Decision fatigue is a very real problem. Studies have shown that our ability to make choices erodes as the day goes on so scientists tell us that we should limit the number of non critical decisions our brain has to make, leaving room for the ‘big thinking’. If we’re constantly asking questions on basic needs i.e. warmth, hunger or fatigue then we are wearing our brains out unnecessarily.
In this age of technology surely our smart phone (and all that resides within) can help out, making out grey matter free to discover the next #gamechanger that will rock a generation.
I won’t lie, I’ve been compared to Sandra Bullocks character in 1995 film The Net. I do everything online from ordering clothes to counting calories but my phone is a management tool rather than a dictator. Maybe it’s time to give it more power so I don’t have to sweat the small stuff.
Recommendation engine apps work using complex algorithms, optimising self learning to personalise content but how much can they really know? I decided to test it for 24 hours to see.
I woke up using my jawbone up24 app which decided I had completed my optimum sleep quota (didn’t feel that way) and I needed to start the day. Fortunately I woke up in a moderately warm house (my Nest system is the ultimate tool for Goldilocks as I’m never too hot or cold). I was starving so I let DinnerSpinner on allrecipes.com decide what I should eat for breakfast. It asks me what I have in my cupboard and recommends a healthy recipe – not easy if all you have in your cupboard is cous cous or you don’t fancy throwing together a recipe at 7am.
Later I use Nara to recommend lunch where it highlighted a sushi bar I didn’t know of. Tasty stuff and well within Mybudgetplanner. Myfitnesspal has already told me how many calories I have available for lunch so I cross reference to make sure it’s ok to eat. Fitstar wants to tailor make me a lunch time workout following a fitness test using my heart rate, but I ignore it as my Jawbone has already been buzzing at me to move my arse every 20 minutes. Stop nagging!
I’m going to a business meeting that afternoon so thought I’d ditch the casuals and ask Stylit what I should wear. This app looks at weather info and cross references this with your needs and wardrobe contents in order to recommend the perfect outfit. This app relies on you taking a photo of every available outfit and filling in dull info on warmth, suitability etc but I’m sure it’s worth it in the end right…? It could work if I could be bothered with the front end photo admin.
Walking to the meeting spotify decides what mood I’m in based on my previous music choices and time of day. The Verve kicks in which makes me want to sit on the pavement and cry after five minutes but I have faith, my ratings of the suggestions are logged so hopefully it learns.
Post work and at a loose end I look at subu. This app looks at where you should go based on your Facebook profile likes and interests. Unfortunately most of the choices seemed to be around clubbing (not these days matey and ). I instead tried Yplan which offered slightly more sophisticated choices around free cocktails and music near me. Winner, winner chicken dinner.
So what do I think? Letting algorithms run your life does take the pressure off and teases you out of your comfort zone providing you trust them and relax into it. Unfortunately, like people these apps still have lots to learn and as the data they hold gets better then so will they. In return I’ll have more faith in their decisions rather than questioning them (which takes more energy). Part of me liked handing my life over to someone else, it was like I had my own opinionated PA but the other part of me felt like I had a controlling boyfriend micromanaging me, making me want to rebel. In the 24 hours I handed over control I didn’t conquer time travel or even invent a new fragrance for fake tan though I have faith in my brain capacity and in time I’m sure I’ll definitely make a breakthrough; whether eliminating small decisions like whether to butter my bagel helps with hat remains to be seen…