Decision fatigue is something everyone experiments in their life, especially during periods of high emotional or intellectual distress. In order to cut out its energy loses, your brain reaches a point where it simply refuses to make decisions. It’s that moment when you start answering most questions with “I don’t care”. That doesn’t really mean that you don’t care, but it is actually a way of saying “I refuse or I simply can’t make a decision about that right now”. The more decisions you need to make, the more likely you are to become tired of deciding. Eventually, you either give up or make hasty decisions.
How to beat decision fatigue
If you don’t take any action when you begin to not caring about small things, it might end up affecting your work life and productivity. The inability of making decisions or often taking the wrong ones can have a dramatic impact over your professional and personal life. Therefore, this article comes to the rescue by offering some advice that will hopefully help you overcome decision fatigue.
1. Establish routines
Routine helps you get rid of small decisions by turning them into automatism. By setting small things on autopilot, you will have more time and energy for important decisions.
For the sake of the argument, let’s say your brain is capable of making 100 decisions a day (although in reality, we make thousands). Once that limit reached, it simply refuses to work adequately. Why use your limited decision-making capabilities with simple choices such as what to have for breakfast, what to wear at work, what kind of exercises you should do and so on?
All these things can simply be decided once and transformed into habits. It is the reason why people like Steve Jobs always wear the same outfit, and why Obama, Oprah and other important leaders have strict daily routines.
2. Make binary decisions
The productivity guide book “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” proves the power of binary decisions. Instead of wasting time with multiple possibilities, the most efficient way of taking decisions is to reduce everything to just two options.
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This should be one of the core principles you guide all of your choices upon. It will help you get rid of unnecessary complications and help you make decisions faster and easier.
3. Learn to prioritize
It’s no news to anyone that not all the decisions are equal in value and importance. While most of the time our brain needs to decide spontaneously, some of these decisions can be scheduled. You just need to prioritize your goals. Dealing with the most important ones in the first part of the day is one of the smartest strategies you can deploy.
Schedule your meetings in the morning whenever possible, and start every day with the most important tasks, in order to maximize your productivity.
4. Group together similar tasks
Compartmentalizing allows you to decide upon multiple tasks all at once, instead of thinking each through separately. For example, don’t spend time on deciding what to eat every single day, but make that decision once for the rest of the week.
The same goes for work tasks. Instead of limiting yourself to deciding what would work in a single context, try thinking big scale. And group together all projects, tasks, and clients, for which you can apply that decision.
5. Set deadlines – timely decisions
It’s in our human nature to avoid making difficult decisions and postpone them for later. This is how procrastination was born 😉 Feeling decision fatigue when tough choices are to be made is not at all uncommon.
One way to overcome this is to allow yourself some time to think. Set a deadline for when you need to take a decision and include a break in the allocated time frame. Be it 5 minutes, one hour, the end of the day, end of the week, or end of the month! But knowing there is a certain time for your decision to be made will help keep yourself accountable and give you the opportunity to pull yourself together.
6. Don’t do it all alone
One of the perks of working with a team is that you don’t have to take all the decisions by yourself. Actually, good leaders share the decision-making process with their team members.
Instead of carrying the decision burden on your own, ask your teammates for feedback, opinions, or even democratic vote. Besides helping you defeat decision fatigue, this will open up communication lines and increase trust within your team. It’s a win-win!
7. Prioritize self-care
Decision fatigue and burnout are two sides of the same coin. They always follow each other and almost always go together. For this reason, the last point of this article is dedicated to encouraging you to prioritize self-care.
First and foremost, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Being dedicated to your career, you are probably cutting back on sleep in favor of work. Even though it might seem like a good idea now, on the long run, lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems that will also affect your productivity.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a healthy diet. Include variety in your meal plans and never skip breakfast. Your brain needs energy to function properly and most of that energy is in the form of glucose taken from the food you consume. Have a breakfast rich in vitamins and healthy sugars, such as apples and bananas!
Decisions, decisions, decisions
Once you start using the strategies discussed above, your capacity of making decisions should visibly improve. Living a healthy life, with a well-thought schedule and with less unimportant decisions will help you in more ways besides beating decision fatigue.
Have you already tested any of the advice discussed? Are you looking for ways to improve your decision making process? Have you encountered decision fatigue in the past and found other ways to overcome it? We are interested to hear your experience. Please share it with us in the comments section below.