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?

This deteriorating quality of decision making often results in one of two outcomes:

1. Impulsive Decisions: where you make a decision irrationally

2. Avoidance Decisions: where you do not make a decision at all

Can you think back on a time in your life when this has happened to you? I’m sure the examples above are familiar for many. Let’s walk through an example with our good friend Joe, the CEO of a corporation, and see how decision fatigue can impact a hypothetical day.

Here are the decisions he had to make: what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what route to take to avoid traffic, what project the business should fund, where to eat lunch, which employee he has to layoff, whether to workout or go home for the day, what to eat for dinner, and whether to work on his passion projects before bed. This is of course a simplified version, but you get the idea. The decision making of Joe the CEO is clearly waning as the day progresses.

How Does It Work?

Ego depletion is the concept that willpower is a limited resource that can be used up over the course of a day. As that resource runs low, self-control is impaired and one would be in a state of ego depletion. You can clearly see the commonalities here, as your willpower diminishes, so will your ability to make decisions.

Author of the book Willpower, John Tierney, says, “You only have a finite amount [of willpower] as you go through the day, so you should be careful to conserve it and try to save it for the emergencies.”

In this sense, your ability to make decisions or utilize willpower is thought of as a muscle. It is worked out throughout the day, but can only do so much before it is exhausted. This analogy is interesting for several reasons:

1. It can get stronger: Just like a muscle, you can improve your willpower and ability to make decisions the more you exercise it. You won’t see much difference in the short term, but long term it does get stronger.

2. It can get burned out: If you have to make decision after decision, eventually you’re going to be depleted. There are only so many major decisions an individual can make during a single day, so it is important to be aware of this limit.

3. It heals with rest/nourishment: Again, much like a muscle, rest heals and replenishes your ability to make decisions. In this regard, sleeping, napping, or turning off your brain for a bit can all be beneficial, especially after a taxing day. Furthermore, low energy can also hurt decision making, so eating also has a positive impact on replenishing your willpower.

Clearly managing your decision fatigue is a big deal, so how do you do it?

How To Manage Your Decision Fatigue

1. Be Mindful of Your Decisions

2. Prepare the Night Before

3. Start the Day With the Hardest Task

4. Take a Break

5. Simplify & Remove Temptation

“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.

We often don’t think about willpower when it comes to our behavior, but it’s a major factor in our well-being. Don’t overlook the value of this practice and give it a shot, even if it is as simple as picking your clothes out or making your lunch for the next day. See how it goes and let me know.

This post originally appeared on alyjuma.com

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.

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.