How To Reduce Decision Fatigue
Let’s talk about how to reduce decision fatigue.
What Is Decision Fatigue?
In a very simple explanation decision fatigue is the idea that when you make a lot of decisions over the course of a day, it can burn you out and tire you out.
Let’s go for a real-life example of a stereotypical “average” working day:
- When you get up you decide what are you going to wear?
- What are you going to have for breakfast?
- What do you do when you start work?
- Which urgent email do you need to reply to first?
- What do you have for a snack?
- What do you have for lunch?
- What time should you sneak in a workout and what order of exercises should you do or what exercises you should do?
- What should you have for an afternoon snack or a post-workout snack?
- What should you do between finishing work and dinner time?
- What should you have for dinner?
- Which streaming service you should watch something on?
- What you should watch on that streaming service?
- What should you have before you go to bed?
- What should you wear to bed?
These all sound very minor, but they are all decisions that you make on an average normal day. And there are probably other decisions that I’ve skipped over in that as well.
So there are a lot of decisions. And that can start to weigh you down.
Too Much Choice
And it’s not just the number of decisions.
There’s also an element of how many options you have available.
Have you ever browsed through Netflix and just couldn’t find something to watch because there were too many options of what to watch? That does play a part too – and make decision fatigue feel that bit more aggravating.
Something like that over time can lead to impulsive decisions, acting rashly, or on the flip side, also avoiding making decisions entirely.
It can be particularly noticeable at the end of a long or stressful or tiring day when even simple yes or no questions start to annoy you, start to trigger you and start to make you just feel dread.
Here are some ideas on how to manage your decision-making so you can avoid or reduce the impact of decision fatigue.
If you’ve ever noticed Mark Zuckerberg, when he’s giving a talk at Facebook, he’s always wearing grey t-shirt and jeans.
You may also notice Steve Jobs always used to wear a black jumper and black trousers.
By choosing to wear the same thing that’s one less decision that they have to make.
I’m not saying wear the same clothes every day, but for example, if you had more or less the same thing for breakfast every day, that’s one less decision you have to make.
Planning and making decisions ahead of time means that you’re not having to decide something at the moment, which can take some of the pressure off and reduce the energy needed to make that decision.
If you schedule out your week, you’re not going to need to have to think about what specific time you want to do anything.
You have something of a structure in place and if anything needs to be added or removed, you can either fit it into that structure or at least still have some blocks to play with.
Similarly, if you have a workout plan already written for you, you won’t sort of get to the time you’re starting your work on think “what do I want to train today?”.
Make Your Toughest Decisions First
Try also making your toughest decision first.
You may have heard the term “eat the frog”, and that’s the idea of doing your hardest task at the start of the day when you have the most mental bandwidth and the most mental energy, and it makes the rest of the day easier from there.
We can apply something similar to decision-making.
Once you made the hardest decision of the day or the hardest decisions you can start to wind it down from there. And it makes the rest of the day feel a bit easier and the other decisions that you have to make won’t feel as difficult or won’t take up as much energy.
Rest And Recovery
Remember to take breaks and get some rest.
Decision fatigue, just like normal physical fatigue, can build up.
Taking a break and getting some rest will be key to allowing yourself some recovery and feeling more fresh for the next major decisions that you have to make.
Use A Random Decision Maker
I couldn’t think of a way to put this concisely, but a good example would be using a coin toss to make trivial or low impact decisions for you.
Let’s look at this in practice:
- Heads or tails – Netflix or Disney Plus
- Heads or tails – Marvel or Star Wars
- Heads or tails – Iron Man or Captain America
- Heads or tails – Iron Man 1 or Iron Man 2
Done. You haven’t really had to think through anything. You just have to flip a coin 4 times.
Making Decision Fatigue Easier To Manage
So those are a few suggestions to help reduce decision fatigue.
I don’t know what decision you have to make in your life on a day-to-day basis.
But hopefully, some of these suggestions may be able to help you deal with some of the stress or fatigue that comes from having to make those decisions.