5 Ways To Beat Decision Fatigue
Whether they’re big or small decisions, we make a lot of them every day. And as it turns out, decision-making can be energy-sapping and take its toll on our willpower
What should I wear to work today? What shall I eat for lunch? Should I buy those pretty shoes? Which movie should I catch tonight? Every decision we make uses up a little more of our reserves. In fact, the bigger or the more life-changing a decision is, the faster it uses up our decision-making abilities.
Think of willpower as a muscle. And like our other muscles, our willpower can’t do as much heavy lifting when it gets worn down with overuse, which is why we tend to make bad choices – choices that lean towards short-terms gains with delayed or increased costs, whenever decision fatigue hits.
It’s no wonder we often end up opting for the most convenient food options (which, let’s be honest, aren’t always the best choices for our health), by the time dinner rolls around at the end of a long work day.
But fret not for there is hope. If you feel tired from constantly making decisions, these simple tips may help you to limit decision fatigue and help you to make more effective choices.
BE A SMART SHOPPER
Going shopping? Whether you’re picking out a new outfit or picking up groceries, having a shopping list helps to keep you on track. And if you’re in the habit of impulse buying, give yourself permission to buy only one extra item. That way, if you’ve used up that choice before you making it to the register, then that decision whether or not to buy that candy bar has already been made for you!
MAKE A TO-DO LIST
Before bedtime, pick out your outfit and figure out what you’ll like to have for breakfast the next day – after all, these tasks don’t usually require you to be operating at maximum mental capacity. By prepping for the day ahead before going to bed, you’ll be able to cut back on the minute “morning decisions” you’ll otherwise have to spend time making. A to-do list made the night before, will help you to sort out the following day’s activities (and the order you need to do them in), leaving you with more head space to focus on other matters.
MAKE BIG DECISIONS IN THE MORNING
Each time we make a choice, it depletes our willpower just a little bit more, so it makes sense to tackle big decisions as early in the day as possible. And when it comes to making major decisions such as accepting a new job offer or buying a house, it really does help to sleep on it. Research suggests that it’s best to make important decisions in the morning when you’re fresh and haven’t lost perspective.
REDUCE THE OVERALL NUMBER OF DECISIONS YOU MAKE
Can’t decide which task to take on next? If none of those tasks are time-sensitive, don’t waste time deciding – write each job down on a small piece of paper, fold, and put them in an envelope. Now leave it to the luck of the draw and complete the first task you pull out. When you’re done, simply move on to the next one!
DO MINI MEDITATIONS
Give your mind a break with little pauses throughout the day. Like pressing the pause button, these short breaks will help you to feel more well rested and better able to combat decision fatigue. You’ll be surprised how a quick three-minute meditation with simple breath work can do wonders for your wellbeing. Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes gently. Focus on your breath as you slowly breathe in for four counts. Feel your belly expand, then breathe out slowly through your mouth for six counts. Breathing out slowly allows your para-sympathetic response to kick in, lulling you into a natural calm.