What is decision fatigue and how to manage it ?

Decision fatigue occurs when we feel exhausted from making too many choices. Psychologists have found that, even though we generally like having choices, having to make too many decisions in a short amount of time may lead us to make decisions that are less than optimal.

The phenomena of decision fatigue can affect even the most rational and intelligent individuals, as everyone can become mentally exhausted. The more decisions made throughout the day, the harder each decision becomes for us. Eventually, the brain looks for shortcuts to circumvent decision fatigue, leading to poor decision-making.

Tips and Strategies for Managing Decision Fatigue

Signs of Decision Fatigue

  • Frequent procrastination.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Inability to think clearly or focus. 
  • A sense of dissatisfaction with any choice that is ultimately made.
  • Avoidance of decision-making tasks.
  • Irritability, and a short temper, caused by frustration with themselves.
  • Physical symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, headaches, upset stomach, etc.
  • Feeling overwhelmed and possibly even hopeless.
  • Spending a lot of time making decisions.

Tips and Strategies for Managing Decision Fatigue

Tips and Strategies for Managing Decision Fatigue

  • Try to plan out things a day in advance; that way you will be better prepared when you have an early start the next day. Plan what you're wearing, lay out gym clothes, meal prep etc.
  • Movement and meditation first thing in the morning to clear your head. 
  • Prioritise a list of tasks and create deadlines for yourself.
  • Limit yourself to making no more than a few big choices per day. Simplify your days!
  • Try to make most of your important decisions in the earlier part of the day when you're charged with more mental energy. Schedule important meetings at work in the morning hours to make the most of your time. Leave lighter decisions for the later part of the day.
  • Take regular breaks in your day to replenish your brain. Make sure you have timely and adequate meals/snacks along with proper hydration throughout the day. 
  • Take an afternoon nap if needed - naps clear the gunk in your brain.
  • If you're facing a variety of options, narrow down your selections to three options—and don't question yourself. Then evaluate the final three options and pick one.
  • Avoid questioning your final decision: Simply embrace your selection and move forward.
  • If it feels helpful, ask a supportive friend or partner to weigh in on the most difficult of your choices.
  • If you get stuck, draft a simple pros/cons list, which can help facilitate objective and sound decision making.
  • Take the weekend off to rest and recharge.
Written by Nadia Whitehurst 

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