Scientists found out the best time of the day to make decisions

According to a study done at Cornell University, an average individual takes about 35,000 decisions per day consciously, out of which 226.7 decisions are made on food alone. We are required to make decisions when we’re presented with choices. As our level of responsibility in the society and family grows, the number of decisions we have to make also increases. Though not all the decisions that we make are life-changing ones, even a small decision can have some impact on our future.

For example, at any given moment we have the choice of sleeping or working on our project, going to the gym or skipping it, studying or playing games, etc. Even though these small decisions, don’t impact our life at that given moment, they do have an impact on our future. Not deciding to work on the project for 3 consecutive days, will make us work harder as the deadline approaches. So we must make the right choices at the right time.

Having said that, what is the best time to make our choices so that the quality of the choices we make is at its best?

The Research – on the best time to make the decisions

A group of scientists in Argentina conducted a study on online chess players to assess the best time of the day for making decisions. They chose online chess because it’s easier to evaluate the quality of the decision and the time taken to make it, compared to other decision-making fields. The study consisted of 184 online chess players who play on the Free Internet Chess Server. The scientists divided the players into two categories, namely, larks (who get up early) and owls (who stay up late).

Are you a lark or an owl? Take this questionnaire to find out.

The initial assumption of the scientists was that the results would indicate that larks will make better decisions in the morning while owls will play better later in the day. But the actual results differed. Here’s what the result they got.

  • Larks played more games in the morning and owls played more games in the evening.
  • Irrespective of whether the participant is a lark or an owl, their decision-making was slower and more accurate in the morning, and faster and less accurate in the evening.
  • The most accurate decision-making happened between 8 am and 1 pm.

How to use this research to our advantage?

1. Planning the Day

A day planned well is executed well. Now that we have evidence that we make better decisions in the morning, it’ll be wise to plan the whole day in the morning. As we saw earlier that even small decisions that we take daily can have an impact on our future. So why don’t we decide well ahead in the morning, what we’re going to do that entire day? This increases the odds of execution as well. Researches have shown that when we make a plan to do something, we’re more likely to do it, than without having a plan.

2. Making crucial decisions

In life, we’re required to make some important choices such as, which school to join, which field to work, whom to marry, etc. These decisions once are taken, it’s tough to revert. So we can use our morning hours, when the mind is so fresh, to take decisions on primal matters.

3. Establishing a Morning routine

During the morning hours, we not only make better decisions but also our energy levels are high. So, instead of hitting that snooze button, we can have a morning routine, which will help us boost our productivity throughout the day. The first few hours in the morning decide what the rest of the day will look like. Our morning routine shall consist of getting up at the same time every day, workout, meditation, and planning the entire day. Doing this daily will help us achieve more in less time.

4. Not making decisions at night

The night is the time when we’re ruled by our emotions rather than logical thinking. But we tend to make most of our decisions at night. After retiring to bed, we don’t fall asleep. We think about what went wrong and who made us worried. Without logically analyzing, we make the wrong decisions at night, which will have a huge impact on our relationship with others. So don’t decide anything at night. If you don’t feel sleepy, then read something that motivates you and keeps your spirits high. Even there’s a research which says that deciding at night makes us feel less confident about our decision.

Summing Up

To sum up, let’s see mornings as a time to decide, plan, and take care of our physical and mental health. Most of the successful CEO s have a morning routine that they never fail to follow. They also have a limit to the number of decisions they make each day.


The research on the best time to make decisions was published in the journal “Cognition” by Leone, M.J., Slezak, D.F., Golombek, D., Sigman, M in the year 2017

Wansink, Brian and Jeffery Sobal published their research on the journal of “Environment and Behavior”, in which they noted down the number of decision we make each day

“The role of Sleep in Product choice” was a research done by Rebecca Spencer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Uma Karmarkar of the Harvard Business School.

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