Decision Fatigue: How to Defeat It and Get Productive

Decision fatigue is present in all sorts of environments although some people may not notice it. You may realize that sometimes you make wrong choices without intending to. Having to make decisions throughout the day can wear a person down very fast.

A study that explored the effects of decision fatigue used judges sitting on a parole board as subjects. Psychologists found that the judges were more favorable in their rulings during the morning hours. Then, the probability of positive outcomes fell throughout the day.

decision fatigue

This study is only a reflection of what happens to most people daily. Regardless of which types of choices an individual needs to make, sometimes it is hard to get them right. Some people mistakenly credit bad choices to lack of willpower when it’s all decision fatigue. However, decision fatigue does not have to be the reason you fail in your project or fall behind on grades. You can combat it in different ways. But first, learn what causes it.

What Is Decision Fatigue?

Willpower is what allows people to decide on this choice and not the other. The number of decisions people make in a day varies from one individual to the next. Some make over 35,000 conscious choices per day. These range from the simplest like whether to salt food to the hardest like buying stocks or quitting a job. Each judgment call you make chips way at your willpower as the day progresses. Regardless of how rational or sensible of a person you are, at some point, you will start to feel the effects of your willpower fading away. That is when decision fatigue sets in.

Usually, most people are not even aware that their minds are tired mentally. This explains some of the irrational behavior you may encounter with your friends or colleagues. Such a person may agitate faster than normal, eat more junk food than usual, or yell at coworkers. Decision fatigue can negatively impact your productivity and interpersonal relationships. An individual who is mentally exhausted is less likely to think through the consequences of his/her decisions. For this reason, finding suitable ways to handle decision fatigue before it plagues your life is imperative.

6 Effective Ways to Beat Decision Fatigue

Even when you think the decisions you make are small, they can still cause mental tiredness. As the world evolves, people have to make more decisions like choosing between thirty options of detergents or TV channels. So how can you keep decision fatigue to a minimum?

1. Form Habits

The cognitive load you place on your brain each day determines how fast decision fatigue occurs. You can reduce the number of decisions that need your attention by habituating some activities. When some things become habits, it means you don’t have to exert willpower deciding how to approach them. These rituals will also be useful to your employees, as they might follow your example. Later on, you can even notice that these help you optimize time.

For instance, knowing your morning coffee only needs one teaspoon of sugar saves you the trouble of deciding every day how much to take. If it’s shopping, decide that you will do it once a week maybe on Saturday afternoons. Forming a routine for your activities saves you the hassle of making those decisions when you are tired.

2. Start with the Critical Decisions

Your brain is fresh in the early parts of the day. So this is the best period to carry our important judgment calls. If possible, bundle all your bad decisions before the afternoon so that you don’t have to worry about being reckless.

Whether you are writing a book, fixing a car, or finishing up a project that you are working on, do it when your willpower is in full effect. With proper time management, you can fit several critical decisions in your morning routine. If an important decision or discussion has to take place in the evening, find a way to postpone it to the next day if possible.

3. Plan Your Choices

Knowing what you are going to do before heading to bed can save your mind a lot of stress the following day. You are already aware of some of the decisions that need your attention on a daily basis. These can target the daily necessary tasks at work, what to pack for lunch, and which home chores to tackle, among others.

If you can decide the night before about such things, you can conserve a lot of willpower for the next day. This step can give your mind the energy to handle some of the decisions that may pop up last minute.

4. Shop Smart

Shopping is one of the activities that can cause extensive decision fatigue. With all the options that consumers have access to, you can expand a lot of energy trying to pick one brand over another. In the business world, this is much easier as you already know what you need for your office. But also watch out for getting too involved in your options of the same product.

Selecting just one brand can be difficult. But it saves you a significant amount of willpower every time you go shopping. Find one brand that works for you and stick to it. Having a shopping list helps a great deal as well.

5. Simplify Your App Choices

Choosing between the different computer and mobile applications can also result in decision fatigue and consequently, poor productivity. Every time you have to decide which app to open is a waste of your mental energy.

If your desktop, tablet, or smartphone has apps that are not required in your daily activities, get rid of them. Some of these apps can also cause distractions when you are working.

puzzled man

6. Have a Decision-Making Process

The way you approach decision-making determines how much willpower it takes to arrive at the final judgment. Establish a process and use it to make all your decisions. This will help you most during meetings.

You get to save time and energy when there is a concrete formula to support all your decisions. Even those sudden choices won’t be as scary when you know the first step to tackling them.

To the Start

Eat out or cook? Buy a coffee maker or a vending machine? Sign a contract or just collaborate temporary? All the judgment calls you have to make every day can easily lead to decision fatigue. A mentally exhausted individual and manager will have trouble being productive in any capacity. This is because decision fatigue increases the chances of making wrong decisions.

Recognizing when your mind is worn out from the day’s decision-making and finding ways to re-energize it can prevent such problems. Learn the best ways to help your mind do its job optimally.

Do you have other ways of coping with decision fatigue?

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