Updated: Jan 21
Decision Fatigue: What It Is and How to Avoid It
Each decision you make reduces your ability to make good decisions. It can quickly reach the point that you’ll actually avoid making decisions once a certain threshold is reached. There are only so many good decisions you can make each day.
Decision fatigue also leads to impulse spending. Self-regulation also suffers during decision fatigue. There’s a reason why you’re more likely to eat unhealthy food or do something else detrimental to your well-being at night.
Have you ever noticed that many powerful and successful people tend to make poor decisions at night? These self-destructive decisions often come after a long day of making important decisions at work.
Use these strategies to avoid decision fatigue and make wise decisions:
1. Make important decisions early in the day and during times of low stress. When you’re relaxed and in your safe space, you have the freedom to kick back and make decisions without any pressure or distractions.
2. Choose your clothes the night before. It’s mentally exhausting to search around for clothes that match when it’s time for work.
You can also limit the scope of your wardrobe and achieve the same effect. Steve Jobs and Barack Obama were famous for their limited wardrobes. Both felt that the fewer decisions they had to make each day, the better.
3. Plan your day the night before. Then, you just need to put your head down and get to work. You’ve already made the basic choices of how you’re going to spend your day. All that’s left to do is perform the necessary actions.
For example, know what you’re having for lunch, breakfast, and dinner before you go to bed.
What are the most important things you have to do tomorrow? When will you do them?
This will leave you with a greater ability to make good decisions the next day.
4. Keep your life simple. A complex life is fatiguing. The fatigue extends to your ability to make decisions. Our brains weren’t designed to handle ongoing complexity. A simple life is easier on your brain and will allow you to make better decisions.
5. Delegate decisions. Not all decisions have to be made by you. Let someone else pick the restaurant and the movie. Allow one of your employees to make the less-critical decisions. Let your kids decide what you’re going to do this weekend. Avoid decision fatigue by requiring others to make some decisions.
6. Take a nap. A nap is a great way to rejuvenate your mental faculties. Sleeping for just 10-30 minutes will recharge your decision-making capacity.Make a daily nap part of your day if possible.
7. Know your priorities. When you know what is important to you, decisions become easier to make. Quick decisions don’t induce a lot of decision fatigue. You’ll avoid torturing yourself over all of your decisions if you understand which decisions matter and which don’t.
The quality of your decisions influences the quality of your career, health, relationships, and overall success. Poor decisions lead to personal challenges. These challenges include financial issues, work and school difficulties, health problems, and other personal and social issues.
Each decision you make has a biological cost. After making too many decisions, you’re more likely to argue with your partner, make unnecessary purchases, and eat junk food.
As your brain fatigues it searches for shortcuts. One of these shortcuts is to make decisions quickly and recklessly. After all, thinking takes energy. The other alternative is to refuse to make a decision at all.
Decision fatigue is something everyone should be aware of. The consequences of poor decision-making can be severe.