What is Decision Fatigue?
Before addressing how to combat decision fatigue, we first need to understand what decision fatigue is. In short, decision fatigue can be described as the mental exhaustion a person feels after making many decisions. As the fatigue worsens, the person’s ability to make decisions is effected as well.
In the height of this exhaustion, people begin to do one of two things. They either feel overwhelmed by the amount of decisions in front of them and begin making worse decisions or their feelings of anxiousness overtake them and they begin to avoid making decisions altogether.
No matter your age, you can experience this type of fatigue. It is also important to note that this exhaustion can come from all types of decisions regardless of their importance. So… how do you work to prevent this from happening?
How to Combat Decision Fatigue
Whether you are getting organized, moving, or downsizing… there are always decisions involved.
Should I keep this even though I already have two just like it?
Should I take this to our new home even though we don’t have space for it?
Should I hang on to this even though I haven’t used it in years?
The best way to prevent decision fatigue from ever starting is to have a plan, remove distractions, and give yourself time.
1. Have A Plan
Having a plan will help keep you on track when making decisions. Try writing down or typing out a list of decisions you need to make. This will help you visualize how much there actually is to do. A lot of times, doing this can remove anxiety and stress you may be feeling about the looming decisions and promote better decision making.
Review your list and prioritize the most important decisions first. This will help ensure that you address them when you have the most energy. Waiting to make big decisions could send you into decision avoidance if you are attempting to address them when you are already feeling exhausted or overwhelmed.
Review your list again, and begin grouping similar decisions together. Try grouping three to five decisions together and designate a specific day to work through those. If that sounds daunting, try making one decision a day for a week.
The key thing to remember when making your plan is that everyone is different. You may struggle with making decisions more than your spouse, child, or friend does, and that’s okay! Reflect on yourself, without comparing yourself to others, and create a feasible plan that you can follow. Be honest with yourself, and set yourself up for success!
2. Remove Distractions
Distractions pull you away from making decisions. A common distraction people turn to is technology. You may say to yourself, “I’m going to scroll on my phone for a bit before I get started” or “I’m going to watch one episode of a TV show before I begin.” Chances are, you’ll spend more time scrolling on your phone or watching TV than you originally intended to.
You may not realize it, but this is decision avoidance. Before even letting yourself become fatigued from making decisions, you avoid the decision making altogether. You may ultimately feel overwhelmed by the decisions you know you need to make, but facing them is even more of a daunting task.
Instead of letting the distractions take over, we suggest you look at them as a reward. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes, then put your phone in a different room. This removes the distraction from your environment, but also isn’t a “punishment” because once the timer goes off you are forced to go to your phone. Then, one of two things could happen. You could reward yourself for the decisions you’ve made by scrolling on your phone. (Maybe set a timer for that too so you don’t get too distracted.) Or maybe you feel empowered by the decision making you’ve done and want to keep going so you tap “repeat” on your timer.
The same thing goes for anything else you may view as a distraction. Try to place it in a different room than the one you are in and set a timer so you know there is an end in sight. Often times, the hardest part is just starting. Take the first step today!
3. Give Yourself Time
Time, or lack there of, is a key reason why you might face decision fatigue or decision avoidance. Maybe you had great intentions one day to finally work through decisions you needed to make, but after you got started, you realized you wouldn’t finish as quickly as you thought or hoped. You may work the entire time you planned to and only make a dent or you may have stopped altogether once you saw there was no end in sight.
It doesn’t happen overnight. (Go back and read that sentence one more time for good measure. Good. Now say that sentence out loud to yourself.)
You cannot psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations. Just as it took time for the decisions to accumulate, it will also take time to go through them. Accept that it will take time, but don’t let that be an excuse to avoid them altogether. You know yourself best. Evaluate how you are approaching these decisions and create a decision making schedule that provides a timeline you can follow to make decisions at a steady pace.
You Can Do It!
After reading this, we hope you feel empowered to begin making those decisions you are overwhelmed by or may have been avoiding. Remember…
1. Have a plan so you can set yourself up for success.
2. Sometimes the hardest part is starting. Remove those distractions so you can start!
3. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to give yourself time!