WATCH: Ego Depletion

Today, I’d like to talk about decision-making. So, if you think about being at work, and you have to make a load of decisions about financial issues and budgets, and then you have to make another bunch of decisions about people, potentially conflict issues or performance issues, and you also have to make decisions about clients and proposals, doing lots and lots of decision-making. And then, when you get home, your partner begins to say, ‘Okay, where would you like to go for dinner this weekend?’ or ‘What movie would you like to see this weekend?’ And you’d be like, ‘I don’t really know,’ you can almost not make the decisions. Or then your kids pop up to you and say, ‘Hey, where are we going on a holiday this year?’ and you go, ‘Some of this has to go to another day’.


That’s what Baumeister referred to a Ego Depletion That’s Ego in the Greek sense, rather than in the Freudian sense. And he says it’s Ego Depleted because actually our Prefrontal Cortex is actually quite a finely tuned, balance piece of our brain.  It’s where we do all our thinking and it requires a lot of energy, but also requires a good balance of sleep as well. And I’ll come to that in a second. So if you think about it as having a battery that is fully replenished at the beginning of the day but as decisions get made, it gets depleted. And towards the end of the day, it’s completely depleted.

So the quality of decision making goes down the ability to analyse and use your prefrontal cortex goes down, so actually you make worse decisions later in the day or you will actually be using a lot of biases. Which we will talk about in another video.

So in order to replenish, your ego and / or you battery when it comes to making decisions, It’s highly recommended to have a good night sleep. That’s one of the best things you can do, and all the researches are now showing that sleep is vitally important.


Is also important especially in the form of food, like glucose. There’s a fantastic bit of research which was done where they looked at parole officers in how in the morning they are making better decisions than in towards just before lunch, and then again they are making better decisions after lunch, and got worse throughout the day. And it’s also about feeling energetic, and  making sure that you feel energetic and motivated and believe that you have the reserves in order to make good decisions and this is a nice one, giving great feedback towards others.

So if you see some of your colleagues, flagging and not being able to make decisions, give them some great feedback, and that can actually help replenish their batteries as well.

Thank you.


With best regards,

David Klaasen

Talent4Performance help business leaders clarify complexity. We inspire people and drive continuous performance improvement, so they can convert thinking into action and results.

©David Klaasen – 2023