Is too much choice a bad thing? How to reduce decision fatigue

Is too much choice a bad thing? How to reduce decision fatigue

Jan 12, 2022Jonathan Englert

Do you ever find yourself making simple decisions throughout your day that are just... tiring? Or wonder why you're cranky after a day at work, long after you've clocked off? In our busy, modern lives a phenomenon called 'decision fatigue'  often plays a role in feelings of tiredness and low mood. It's something almost everyone experiences from time to time, even if we don't realise it.

Taking steps to combat decision fatigue in your everyday life can help reduce your stress levels and boost your mood – here's how.

What is Decision Fatigue?

The average person makes around 35,000 decisions each day, and there is a degree of self-control involved in every single one. Even seemingly easy decisions will use up some of your self control – like choosing what to wear for the day, whether to push through an afternoon slump or have a coffee break, or what Netflix show to watch. As each choice saps our brain of a little bit of energy, it can leave us feeling tired, mentally drained and irritable at the end of the day – that's decision fatigue.

With so many options now available to us in every aspect of our lives, it's no wonder decision fatigue is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon. 

How to reduce Decision Fatigue?

To reduce decision fatigue it's important to be mindful of the decisions you're making. Try to make choices that involve less decision-making. This helps free up mental space, helps you focus on the important things, and preserves your energy so you can feel content and rested at the end of the day. Easier said that done though, right? 

Some tips you can try to help reduce decision fatigue:

    1. Set Simple Rules Ahead of Time 
      At the beginning of the day or week, try setting simple rules for decision you know will made frequently. For example, "I will only drink water today" or "I will only check my phone once every two hours". You can also plan things ahead of time, like picking out your outfits for the week. 

    2. Delegate
      Whenever possible, try to delegate decision-making tasks to other people. You might ask your partner or friends their opinions on things instead of making decisions yourself, or delegate decision-making power to your employees if you own a business. The key is to allow yourself to accept their decision, and trust they'll make a good one for you.

    3. Use Heuristics
      To shortcut your decision-making, using heuristics may be helpful. It involves making educated guesses about what decision would be best for the situation at hand, rather than thinking it the entire scenario out in full. This can particularly useful for common situations that regularly pop up in your work or social life. 

    4. Self-Affirmations
      Self-affirmations can help reduce decision fatigue by boosting your confidence and reminding yourself that you are capable of completing important tasks. If you ever find yourself paralysed by choice, try saying "I'm the best decision-maker I know" or "I will make the right choice" out loud.

    5. Take a Break
      Lastly, remember to take breaks throughout the day so your decision-making muscles get some rest from being in constant use! Meditating or simply going for a short work is a great way to reset your mind, especially on tough, busy days.

Overall, just be aware of how often you're making decisions and try not to overwhelm or pressure yourself to execute them all perfectly. Your brain needs rest just as much as your body does!

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

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