You definitely do. You’re probably suffering from it ever day, actually. Sadly, decision fatigue has infected us all.
Hmmm, this sounds serious….
Wait, do you know what decision fatigue is?
In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.
Let me give you some examples….
Ever been to IKEA?
The long and winding path from the entrance to the checkout leads you through an emotional roller coaster. As you walk by the painstakingly affordable household items you never even knew you needed but now realize you definitely do, you’re forced to make thousands of tiny decisions. By the end you get so tired that you either abandon the cart and leave with nothing, or you’ve bought everything in sight.
Ever been on a diet?
You head to work feeling confident on your healthy, upgraded eating plan and you’ve had your paleo breakfast. By the end of a long ass day of making decisions and figuring things out though, you wind up ordering sushi on Seamless and drinking a half a bottle of white wine on the couch instead of going to the gym.
Ever been up for parole?
(I mean, I’m assuming no but, what do I know?) The morning cases seem to have a much better chance of being granted freedom, as do the cases brought before the judge right after their lunch break. The rest? Well as the judge gets tired of making decisions, things go south for potential parolees fast.
These instances are examples of decision fatigue and how it affects your life.
If you’ve ever been a bride, you’ll remember decision fatigue as the time you started saying things like “I honestly don’t give a shit what type of napkins we use.”
It’s all decision fatigue, my friend. It’s something that affects each and every one of us every single day.
We wake up in the morning with a finite amount of willpower and ability to make clear, well-thought-through decisions. And then we use it all up as the day goes on.
As we’re faced with an increasing number of decisions to make, the quality of those decisions deteriorates. I mean, think about how many decisions you make throughout a typical day before you even leave the house.
Should I hit snooze or get up?
Should I wash my hair or just use dry shampoo?
What should I wear to work?
But with which shoes?
What should I have for breakfast?
Should I listen to a podcast or read The Skimm?
Should I take the subway or walk?
These thousands of tiny decisions go on all day long, leaving us with little sound decision-making power when our time is our own again after work. This decision fatigue can prevent us from reaching goals that we care about.
How To Beat Decision Fatigue?
So how does one overcome decision fatigue? Well, eliminate decisions, mostly. Sounds obvious, I know. But here are a few ways you can do that.
Pull an Obama
Wear the same thing to work every day. Or at least some version of it. I’ve been doing this for forever. When I worked full-time in New York, I whittled my work wardrobe down to two basic uniforms. I had one black pencil skirt and one pair of black pants. I alternated back and forth between them with the same three J. Crew sweaters on top. It was lovely. I never had to figure out what to wear in the morning. And although it might surprise you, nobody notices or cares what you wear anyway. Men have been doing this for decades, it’s called a suit. And not having to pick out an outfit is a great way to alleviate a sometimes painstaking decision making process first thing in the morning.
Have the Same Thing For Breakfast Every Day
I suppose combining this with the first suggestion puts you well on your way toward a morning routine but, they do say morning routines are important for success. The basic premise here is that the fewer decisions you have to make throughout the day, the better you’ll preserve your decision-making power for more important things, like work and taking care of yourself, later on. And if you’ve predetermined your healthy breakfast and made it a habit, you’re already winning in the health department for 1 out of 3 meals for the day. Plan ahead, have it ready to go and you’ll alleviate another decision just like that.
Simplify Your Life in General
Slowing life down and decluttering everything from your closet to your calendar is one of our biggest themes here at Crop Tops & Kale. Basically, we’re all doing and buying way too much crap these days. If we consciously and intentionally slow down our lives and live more simply, we eliminate decisions across the board. When you have fewer things, and fewer things to do, you also have fewer decisions to make.
Have a Snack
If you do find yourself faced with important decisions toward the end of the day when you’re feeling run down, have a snack. Having a little quiet time and a little blood sugar boost will help to re-establish a bit of willpower and decision-making ability. Take a walk, do a little stretching, and put the decision out of your mind for five or ten minutes while you relax and have a snack. Then go back and focus on making that decision. It’s not ideal but, it can help.
The truth is, willpower is not something we either have or do not. It’s renewable yet finite each day. And though there’s zero chance of eliminating all decisions to be made in life, with a little focus and intention, we can set ourselves up with fewer of them in general. And when we do that, we’ll have more of the mental fortitude required to make progress on what’s important to us.
Beating decision fatigue is a big part of why minimalism is a life-changing concept. When you ruthlessly edit your life of all the clutter and junk and distraction, you’re left with a nice chunk of time, energy and mindspace to do the things that matter. It’s glorious.
How can you overcome decision fatigue in your own life? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
And if you’re interested in removing decision fatigue when it comes to your health, grab your free copy of The Simple Cleanse by entering your email below!
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Also published on Medium.