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Why You Shouldn’t Fall Prey to Decision Fatigue


Why You Shouldn't Fall Prey to Decision Fatigue

Why is it we feel so depleted and spent both physically and mentally after a full day of making decisions? Because making decisions taxes us in a very real way, and there is a name for it – decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is the deteriorating quality of decisions made after a long period of decision making.

Think of the last time you ran through a busy day of making one decision after another. You’re mentally and physically tired yet you didn’t run a marathon or just finish a spinning class.

Those who experience decision fatigue are more likely to either make reckless decisions or find themselves in a state of mental paralysis, unable to make any decisions at all.

It sneaks up on you

Decision fatigue affects all of us from time to time. As you move through the day, each decision you make depletes your resources and each subsequent decision becomes more and more difficult to execute.

Each of us has a finite amount of physical and mental resources for each day; and when those resources have been used up, we are more likely to make bad decisions.

Don’t fall victim to decision fatigue. If you are pressed to make a decision when you’re fatigued, stop and ask yourself if it’s urgent. If it’s not, sleep on it and make the decision the next day.

We have both said it aloud after a long day: “I can’t think through one more thing. Let’s grab a pint.” (Ever wonder why we call this blog Coffee & Pints?)

Why autopilot is a good thing

Whether you’re picking out your sunglasses for the day or deciding on a new international trading platform, the decision making process uses up your limited resources.

The simple solution is to reduce the number of decisions you make in a day. Put what you can on autopilot – look at what’s easy to streamline and then streamline it.

Mark Zuckerberg wears the same gray t-shirts and jeans each day. It’s not because he is a fashion icon or because he is a techie. He streamlines getting dressed each day by not having to decide – he saves his resources for more important decisions.

Ask yourself: Do you need to opine on everything at work?

Very likely the answer is no.

Some of us are “go-to” people, meaning others come to us for our opinions and advice, and we gladly oblige. This is typically an excellent dynamic but you also have to guard against the fatigue that can set in when you give too much.

It’s okay to close your door occasionally in order to focus on what’s on your list of priorities. Know when your input is critical vs. convenient and step back when necessary.

If it is not in your purview – let it go. Save your mental resources for decisions that must be made within your immediate responsibilities.

Delegate what you can

Those in leadership roles are also in decision making roles. While decision making is part of the job, so is delegation. And delegation is another good way to reduce decision fatigue.

By delegating decision making when appropriate, you give your staff an opportunity to practice their decision making skills. Encouraging your team to think through solutions and working with them to bring you their proposed decisions will increase their skills and reduce your decision making fatigue.

Each of us has limited capacity each day. Manage your resources and streamline what you can  – make all your decisions count.

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