Make smarter decisions: Three tips for avoiding decision fatigue
February 20, 2014
How many decisions do you make in a given day?
Studies have shown that the answer is “thousands.” That is at least one per minute!
Think about the decisions that you have made so far today. They might include:
Should I work out or stay in bed longer?
Should I correct my daughter’s behavior or let it go?
Should I wash the dishes now or when I come home?
Should I check my email or work on that proposal?
Start to pay attention to all of the decisions you make in your day, and you will be amazed at how much life = decisions.
The problem is that each decision takes mental effort. As the day wears on, our brains get tired, and we suffer from what is called decision fatigue. Our decisions get sloppier, less thought-out, more compulsive.
Can you relate to this?
In the evenings, do you:
Order a pizza instead of making that stir-fry you had planned.
Get grouchy with your partner for not emptying the dishwasher.
Buy that pair of faux-leopard pants that seems ironically cool.
Stay up too late to finish a few House of Cards episodes.
These sloppy decisions have a huge impact. Take a look at an area of your life that doesn’t thrill you. What poor decisions did you make in that area? Decisions where you knew that you should probably choose differently, but didn’t. Decision fatigue likely had a hand in it!
To have the great life you want, then, you need to limit your decision fatigue.
Here are a few ways how:
1. Build habits
The beauty of a habit is that it eliminates choice. You don’t debate each night if you should brush your teeth or not, right? You just do it. That saves your mental energy for the important decisions.
Where else could you make habits to eliminate decisions? Here are a few ideas:
Set a standard bedtime or wake-up time.
Plan out your dinners a week in advance.
Put a time limit on your “vices” like TV or Facebook.
Sign up for classes at a gym in advance.
Make a morning or evening ritual that takes care of all your important tasks.
2. Let things go… or delegate
Don’t spend much energy on choices that don’t matter to you. If you don’t care much which color of blender you buy, then choose quickly and move on. Or ask someone else to choose for you.
3. Make important decisions before noon
Far too often, we put off making difficult decisions until later in the day because we simply don’t want to deal. Don’t do that! Make your important decisions early in the day, when your mental energy is highest.
Come join me in becoming wise decision-makers! What actions will you take to limit your decision fatigue? Your dream life lies in the balance.