Avoiding decision fatigue is one area where the age old precept of “Prevention is better than cure” really works. Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making
Decision fatigue can kill motivation, hamper productivity and sabotage happiness. This makes it very important to prevent it from raising its ugly head. Good habits set so firmly in place that you don’t have to think about them are key to Avoiding Decision fatigue:
Having routines for the little things in life goes a long way towards avoiding decision fatigue. In my previous post (Decision Fatigue A Modern Malady), I used the example of breakfast choices. Setting a breakfast routine can save you a lot of morning time and energy.
You might complain that you don’t want to face the same bowl of oatmeal every morning. You don’t have to; just stick a list of seven breakfast options on your fridge door. Bingo—a new breakfast every day without even having to think about it.
Whenever you read an article or watch a video about decision fatigue, you are bound to run into the example of Steve Jobs wearing the same grey turtle neck every day. Mark Zuckerberg is said to have limited wardrobe options too. These people accomplished great things but did not bother about little things like what to wear each morning.
Having routines of daily chores eliminates making decisions about them or even waste time thinking about them. You probably have some chores that you do in the morning without even thinking about them. Some people put the kettle on as soon as they get out of bed. Others put their cat or dog out.
It really helps to have mundane things on autopilot which will conserve precious time and energy for important decisions. Put as much of the small stuff on pilot as you can.
- PLANNING & PREPARATION
Having a weekly or daily plan can make a major contribution to avoiding decision fatigue. Just spending 20 minutes on Sunday evening to put 5 outfits in order will really enable you to get dressed automatically every morning.
Making a To do List the night before or at the end of your work day will save many agonizing minutes every morning deciding where to begin.
Good things to plan weekly are:
- Grocery lists
- Household chores
- Car pool
- Bill payments
Good things to plan daily are:
- Tomorrow’s work schedule
- Scheduled time for phone calls
- Scheduled time for sending and answering e mail.
- Scheduled social media time
- Family time
- Personal/Me time
- PRIORITISE : Use the Inverted Pyramid
Make your most important decisions at your peak performance time. For most people this is in the morning. I like to think of this as the Inverted Pyramid of Decision Making. You should make your most important decisions at the beginning of your day (base of the pyramid) and leave the least important or mundane for the end (tip of the inverted pyramid).
- LIMIT YOUR CHOICES : EMBRACE MINIMALISM
Brought up on the concept that freedom to choose is a good thing, we sometimes forget that this concept is best applied to life altering decisions like career choice or choice of spouse. Even for these landmark decisions it is good to shortlist a few options before you make your final selection.
Reducing options takes a lot of stress off your shoulders. In an industrialized society you are constantly bombarded with choices. With so many online businesses across the globe, the spectrum of options becomes wider and wider.
The online companies, however, are turning the wheel of choice full circle. Some statistics show that companies that provide fewer choices are doing better online. This shows that people unconsciously prefer not having to make too many decisions.
Minimalism is a creed that people are adopting worldwide. Owning fewer possessions limits choices thereby avoiding decision fatigue.
- OWN YOUR DECISIONS : Let go of regret.
Sometimes when you face the fall out from a bad decision, you end up making excuses for yourself:
“I was tired”
“I was stressed out”
“I was hungry”
“The kids were giving me a hard time”
If you begin to take responsibility for your decisions you will automatically think twice before you make a choice. Fewer choices equal less decision fatigue.
Once you make a choice, don’t regret it, even if it does not work out. This will empower you to make a better choice next time. Furthermore, blocking out regret takes some of the stress off decision making, again avoiding decision fatigue. This might sound a little obtuse, but I have found that it does work.
Never make a choice on an empty stomach, even if it does not involve food (I have given you such a good excuse for snacking – ha ha!).
Avoid making major decisions when you are tired, irritable, angry or depressed (in my case, that might be never).
Seriously though, a good emotional state goes a long way towards avoiding decision fatigue.
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What are your views on decision fatigue? I would love to hear about them in the comments section.
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