Everything You Need To Know About Decision Fatigue

You know when you plan to cook a healthy meal for dinner, but instead end up eating fast food or ordering pizza? Or how about when you plan to workout after work only to end up in front of the TV watching Netflix for hours? These are just a few examples of how decision fatigue may be affecting your life.

What Is Decision Fatigue?

In the simplest of terms, decision fatigue refers to how your decision making ability gets worse throughout the day. The more decisions you make, the harder it gets to make good decisions.

How Does It Work?

The phenomenon is pretty common at the end of a long day or when you’re low on energy (sleepy or hungry). It has also been closely linked to the idea of ego depletion.

How To Manage Your Decision Fatigue

While decision fatigue is something that we all deal with, there are a few ways that you can organize your life and design your day to maximize your ability to make better decisions.

1. Be Mindful of Your Decisions

This is probably the first step to take. Simply take stock of the decisions that you’re making throughout the day. Which ones do you struggle with? Which are easy? How many do you make? When do they happen? Being aware of them will give you a good idea of how you can adjust your day to make it more efficient.

2. Prepare the Night Before

A simple trick is to make a number of the smaller decisions the night before, so that those don’t take away from the limited resource. In this sense, picking out your clothes, making breakfast/lunch, and planning your day can save you from a lot of fatigue that will be better utilized in more meaningful situations.

3. Start the Day With the Hardest Task

There’s almost always one big thing on our list that we dread doing and surprisingly that often coincides with the most important task. It’s vital to tackle that task from the beginning, when we’re operating at our highest level of decision making and willpower. That way, you’re much less prone to take irrational or impulsive action and have the needed resources to complete the task.

4. Take a Break

As mentioned above with regards to decision fatigue being like a muscle, giving yourself a break can do wonders. Eating something (healthy of course) or taking a power nap can give you a boost and allow you to regenerate a bit of willpower to use for the rest of an arduous day.

5. Simplify & Remove Temptation

Simplifying is essentially where you take decision making completely out of the process. This is why Steve Jobs always wore the same clothes everyday, he removed the decision from the equation. Similarly, if you make your lunch for the week, you remove the temptation to eat out at all because you already have lunch. There are many ways you can simplify and remove temptation, from accountability to schedules, and these small steps can go a long way in forming better habits that can eventually replace the decision making process altogether.

“In the absence of willpower the most complete collection of virtues and talents is wholly worthless.” Aleister Crowley

If you make the effort to actually manage your decision fatigue, you could completely change your daily outlook. From success to health to happiness, everything is within reach by being aware of your willpower and how you use it.

Writer that designs — or is it the other way around? VP of eCommerce at function of beauty, creator of t-shirts, and lover of books.

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