How many decisions do you think you have you made today?
Nah, we can make that many on food choices alone. (My husband can attest to this)
Estimates put the amount of decisions an adult makes at around 35,000. A DAY.
A lot of those decisions are insignificant, but your brain notices every single one. And it is getting tired.
That late afternoon crash you feel at work may not just be low glucose levels – it could be Decision Fatigue.
Our brains can suffer from “mental fatigue,” just as our bodies can become physically fatigued after a long workout. What is so surprising about this phenomenon is just how little people appreciate the importance of mental fatigue and its resulting decision fatigue — even when making decisions that can be life-changing.
(If you want to get into the psychology behind it, see The Strength Model of Self-Control or Decision Fatigue Exhausts Self-Regulatory Resources)
Here are some signs you could be suffering from Decision Fatigue:
- Simple choices are suddenly hard to make. You cannot decide what to eat for lunch. Or maybe you can’t pick out what to wear. Maybe an easy question at work is requiring entirely too much thought.
- You are having trouble with self-control. We may beat ourselves up for eating that cupcake, but it may not be a lack of will-power on your part causing you to make bad decisions. It may be a tired brain.
- You procrastinate. Can’t get that next project started? Stare blankly at your computer screen? Yep, that can be decision fatigue too.
- You are more impulsive. Making bad decisions because you just want to get it over with is a sign your brain may be working overtime.
Resources on the symptoms of Decision Fatigue:
How to Fight Decision Fatigue:
Steve Jobs intentionally wore the same outfit everyday. While that is one way you can cut down on the decisions you make, it’s probably not very realistic.
- Establish Daily Routines. Pick out your clothes and breakfast the night before or on weekends if you make less decisions then.
- Tackle Big Decisions Earlier in the Day. Schedule important meetings in your decision-making sweet spot before the afternoon crash. (Obviously adjust if you don’t work regular hours.)
- Delegate More. Empower your staff to make decisions. This also leads to a better overall work culture.
- Have a Mantra. Have a go-to mindset or set of questions you ask yourself to guide your decisions. You can fall back on this when decision making gets tough.
- Take Breaks. Go for a walk. Do breathing exercises. Get a snack. Take a cat nap.
- Make Fewer Decisions. May sound like a “duh” comment, but figure out ways to set up automatic processes to handle tasks whether at work or at home.
Resources on fighting decision fatigue: