What is Decision Fatigue and how can you avoid it?
Are you experiencing decision fatigue?
You may have heard about prominent industry leaders and even our Commander in Chief’s seemingly bizarre behavior: President Obama wearing the same suit every day, Steve Jobs always wearing a black turtleneck and jeans, or Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same gray hoodie and jeans 5 days a week. Why do these strong, innovative, and accomplished leaders do this?
The answer is decision fatigue.
If you have not heard about decision fatigue before, it is the idea that constantly making decisions, small or big, can leave one weary. Whether it is deciding which brand of Greek yogurt to buy at the store or which insurance plan best fits your lifestyle and budget, can take the same amount of energy and your decision is mostly affected by how tired your brain is. Making too many decisions in the morning can lead to decision fatigue by the end of the day. Being in a powerful position of high responsibility where one is in regularly in charge of making decisions will lead to burn out. Eliminating as many small decisions possible, such as what to wear each day, will cut down on stress and ultimately fatigue.
Most people don’t notice the signs of decision fatigue. In an article published by the New York Times, they conclude that the more choices you make throughout the day, the more your brain looks for shortcuts. The brain copes with this in two ways; one is by becoming reckless and acting impulsively, the other is by to going into an energy saving mode and shutting down, where no decisions are made. I know I have personally felt this way so I looked to some experts on advice of how to combat this issue.
To quote President Obama, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
So how can you implement structure in your life so you can save the most amount of energy for the tasks that really matter?
Here are my best tips to beat decision fatigue:
Keep a morning routine
I have previously discussed the importance of morning routines, but to really get the benefit of a routine, it is vital to focus on a few items:
- Wake up at the same time each day. Adhering to a schedule will help your body run on autopilot to automatically wake at the same time each morning.
- Plan out your breakfast for the week. Choose something easy to make that has a healthy mix of fiber, carbs, and protein to give you energy.
- Plan your outfits for week, or layout tomorrow’s outfit tonight. Whether it’s making sure your uniform is clean and pressed or planning professional yet simple and easy to wear outfits for the week.
Taking these early morning decisions off your plate will attribute to feeling good and confident. What better way to start your day?
Be aware of how decisions effect you
Some decisions are harder to make than others. If you know you have three key meetings back to back, chances are you will be fizzling or completely burnt out by the last one and may be more prone to making mistakes or poor decisions. Understand what your most difficult or consuming tasks are and try to stagger them throughout the day. A little down time in between can go a long way. Though it is not always possible, doing what you can to give your brain time to recuperate can make all the difference in your daily stress and energy level.
Don’t rush, take the time you need
One of the best tips I have learned to help ward of decision fatigue is to take the time I need before making a decision. It is okay to tell someone you need to sleep on it or that you will have a decision by the next day. Before making a decision, try to get a read on yourself. Are you feeling overtired? Are you feeling stressed? Have your eaten enough and drank enough water? If you can sense that you are on the edge, make sure you take the time you need to make a proper decision based on facts rather than your decision fatigue.
Having put in the effort to better plan and adhere to these tips for a few weeks, I can say that they have made a big difference. While these changes may seem small, they have the power to make a positive impact on your life. Remember, the one who procrastinates ends up working twice as hard.
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