Decision fatigue is real. You aren’t crazy for feeling like “What’s for dinner?” is a monumental question.
You only have so much mental energy, and – like most people – your daily demands are more than using it up. You may be running the team meeting or coordinating the PTA group with ease in the morning, but feel like your brain is a useless blob by evening time.
Here are 4 ways to ward off decision fatigue:
You can’t commit to everything. Whoever said, “anything worth doing is worth doing well” had it wrong. Not everything deserves your best effort. If you are a perfectionist, that is particularly hard to digest.
Determine at the beginning of the day – when you’re fresh – what you commit to doing, what you intend to do, and what you will attempt to do. Focus your energy to the 1st set of priorities and “let the chips fall where they may” in the other categories.
2) Just say no.
Really. Just say no. It can take practice, but once you get the hang of this powerful two-letter word, it will be cathartic. Decide what’s most important in your life and say no to the rest. Are you going through a major project at work? Say no to the book club. Are you planning a major family vacation? Say no to coaching a sport this season. Though there’s pressure to be all things to all people, it’s a completely impossible goal.
The best way to avoid decision fatigue is to not decide at all! If there is someone else willing and capable of making the decision, by all means, pass along the responsibility. If you are a control freak like me, this is hard. But again, practice makes perfect. Remind yourself that control does not equate with quality. There are others equipped to make a higher quality decision than you…particularly if you are already maxed out.
4) Develop habits.
Ever wonder why you do your best thinking in your shower? Bathing is a daily habit. Thus, it requires no mental effort. Your mind is free to wonder. I bet if you reversed your shower routine, you’d have to devote much more energy to the task.
Develop a habit to eliminate as many of the menial decisions as possible. If “What’s for dinner?” is triggering a nightly melt down and a hoarding of boxed macaroni and cheese, then develop a dinner schedule. Monday’s meal habit: pizza night. If grocery shopping seems to take hours, develop a habit. Walk the store in a similar pattern each time and keep a consistent list. Can’t figure out how to run the meeting? Develop a habit. Have a go-to template for facilitating a work group.
Here’s the point:
The demands of 21st century American culture are so high that self-preservation requires a give and take. The most successful people – in their careers and personal lives – know what they do best, allocate their time wisely, and let go of the rest.