How often do you find yourself in a position that relieves decision fatigue? Where do you need to make a choice between two or more equally appealing options? You end up exhausted from going in circles and either making a hasty decision or delaying making a decision until later. Decision fatigue occurs when you’re in a stressful situation where you need to make a choice but can’t because of the intensity of your feelings. Sometimes people make bad choices not because they lack the ability to do so, but because the process of narrowing down the options has exhausted them. Our mental strength is also significantly diminished.
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The term “decision fatigue” doesn’t sound familiar.
Let’s take a look at an example to better illustrate decision fatigue:
Numerous variables enter into a court’s ruling. You might think the judge makes his or her decision based solely on the gravity of the crime or the specific laws that were broken. While this is true, the time of day has a far greater impact on the judge’s verdict. Over the course of ten months in 2012, researchers from Columbia University analyzed 1,112 Parole Board Judge court rulings. The judge would have to rule on whether the inmates would be granted parole or if their current parole conditions would be modified. The judges’ mental state had a concerning impact on their verdict, despite the fact that the facts of the case typically come first.
According to The Data, The Likelihood of a Positive Decision Decreased as the Day Wore on.
One might reasonably wonder, “does the time of day or the judges’ hunger level contribute significantly to their decision-making?” True, that is the case. According to the data, your chances of getting a favorable ruling from the judge are roughly 65% in the morning.
But as the morning wore on, the judge grew weary and spent from making decisions. A favorable ruling’s chances gradually decreased as time passed, eventually reaching zero. After a brief respite for lunch, however, the judge’s leniency increases to an astounding 65%. Again, as the day wore on, the judge’s mood and the number of favorable rulings both declined. This is not a fluke, as the research shows this to be true in all 1,112 cases. It didn’t make a difference how serious the crime was. The criminal had a better chance of getting a favorable ruling in the morning or after the judges’ lunch break, regardless of whether the crime involved rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement. One of the drawbacks of having to make too many choices is this.
Negative Effects of Being Overwhelmed by Choices
In a position of authority, such as those held by the aforementioned judges, it is unacceptable to allow one’s emotions or mood to cloud good judgment.
Expert in American education and economics George Lowenstein claims that decision fatigue is to blame for ineffective leadership. It’s possible that the stresses of work and home life are contributing to this group’s catastrophic inability to control their impulses.
Compassion fatigue refers to the state of mind in which a person has stopped caring because they are too tired to process any additional emotion. When carelessness sets in are when problems arise. Impulsive purchases, poor judgment at work, and a lack of forethought in personal relationships are just a few of the problems that can stem from decision fatigue.
Have You Reached the Point of No Return with Decisions?
I have no doubt that you understand what “decision fatigue” means now.
In a word, yes. Without realizing it, we all experience decision fatigue.
Even if you don’t have the power to decide someone’s fate, the decisions you make for yourself every day, every week, and every month can have a significant impact on your ability to get things done if you’re not in the right frame of mind. If you’ve been making a lot of decisions recently, you might be suffering from decision fatigue even if you feel fine. Brain fatigue sets in when you’ve been making one decision after another for too long, just like any other muscle in your body. It can’t operate at peak efficiency without regular downtime.
The Following Graph Might Represent a Typical Day for You.
When you think about all the choices you have to make every day, like the ones listed above, it’s easy to see how decision fatigue can creep up on you. Now that we understand what decision fatigue is and have looked at some real-world examples of it in action, we can examine some of the most effective strategies for overcoming it in order to maintain a clear head and make better choices.
What to Do When You’re Tired of Making Decisions
You can avoid decision fatigue in two ways: either make fewer decisions each day or shift when you make decisions to a time of day when your mind is clear.
Use these tips to help you avoid decision fatigue and make wiser choices.
1. Figure Out What Choices Are Crucial, and Make Them.
This can quickly become overwhelming if you have a demanding personal or professional life and must make a number of difficult choices on a daily basis.
If this is the case, free up some mental space by listing out everything that needs to be resolved before you make a decision. Use a simple piece of software or jot them down on paper; something as simple as a notepad file or a word document will do. Once you have everything written down, prioritize the tasks that must be finished as soon as possible. Keep in mind that you can’t give your undivided attention to everything. Some things just have to take precedence over others.
Decide Which Choices are Most Important and Publicly Announce Them
Now that you have a list of the things that absolutely must be decided upon, you can apply even more scrutiny to the matter at hand by ranking them in order of importance. Your top priorities should emerge from this exercise unconflicted and in order of importance.
The final step of this process is to single out and evaluate each of the potential outcomes of your most pressing choice. You’ll be able to think more clearly and avoid the subtle onset of decision fatigue if you get the most important decisions and the visual representation of those options out of the way first.
Establish Routines to Conduct Daily Activities and Automate Minor Choices.
Have you thought to yourself, “Today, shall I have a healthy lunch?” Is it advisable that I get up earlier tomorrow? “When should I start dinner prep for tonight?” All of these issues may seem inconsequential, but you must still choose an answer. When added to other simple, everyday questions and more significant ones, the cumulative effect can be annoying.
Having to Make a Decision isn’t Always Necessary.
Although breakfast is the most crucial meal of the day, it need not be a lavish affair every day. Eat the same, speedy breakfast every morning to save time in the morning. Choose the item of clothing that you are drawn to most if you are at a loss for what to wear. It’s no secret that after 20 minutes of trying on different clothes, you’ll settle on the first option.
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Worrying About What to Wear
Successful people don’t spend time worrying about what to wear, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg. It has been documented that they only allow themselves two wardrobe choices per day to alleviate the stress of constant decision-making. Reduce the number of decisions you have to make every day so that you can focus on the ones that matter the most. Insignificant choices can eat away your time and energy. Decision fatigue sets in when multiple choices have to be made at once. In any case, there is a way to prevent this from happening. Improving one’s decision-making skills is a byproduct of automating mundane tasks and streamlining one’s life.