Decision Fatigue

Can decision fatigue affect you?

Lately there have been many articles and post published concerning the simplistic and rather monotonous dress code of successful individuals. These individuals, United States President Barack Obama, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs from Apple and others, have all simplified their wardrobes down to merely one or two outfit changes with the same motivation of ‘decision fatigue’.

Decision fatigue is a real psychological condition, a condition brought on by being mentally exhausted as a result of making numerous irrelevant and meaningless decisions. This form of fatigue ultimately hampers productivity and the ability to make sound judgement calls and the right decisions, often even leaving a person completely indecisive and unable to make any decision at all, also known as decision avoidance.

In an interview for the Vanity Fair magazine, President Barack Obama was quoted saying, “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits’ [Obama] said. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Mark Zuckerberg’s recently reiterated that sentiment at a recent Q&A session at Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley when he stated, “I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community!”

This may leave you thinking that because you don’t run a multibillion dollar multinational company or global organisation that decision fatigue does not affect you, but you would indeed be wrong – albeit not to the same level.

Every day, from the moment you wake up in the morning until the last waking moments of your day, we are faced with the tasking of making decisions. According to various online sources, the average number of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35000. In contrast, young children only make about 3000 decisions each day.

Need help reduce decision fatigue?

Need help reduce decision fatigue?

Some of those may be as routine and mundane as decisions like deciding on what to have for breakfast, right across the board to decisions such as accepting or rejecting a business proposal that could alter the progression of a business or organisation over the next five years. Although it would seem more likely that the weighted decisions of the day would tire us out, it is in fact the accumulation and collected volume of all the smaller decisions that can result in decision fatigue.

We all at some point have been mindful that we suffer from some or other degree of decision fatigue. Ever come home after a busy day at work and being unable to decide on what to eat for dinner? Or after a long work week, found yourself relaxing on the sofa in front of the television flipping through channels unable to decide on a show to watch? These are some typical signs that your mind is fatigued and unable to carry out the decision making process. This inability to process decision making happens at the work place too and more often than not, most people will not even realise it.

To overcome this and to minimise the effect it can have on various areas of your life, steps can be taken to simplify and reduce the number of decisions you need to make, giving you the capacity to make the critical decisions when the time and need arises.

Here are a few ways (which don’t include stripping down your wardrobe.) to help reduce decision fatigue:

  1. Get lots of rest and established a fixed sleep pattern
  2. Create fixed daily routines
  3. Make checklists for common or daily tasks
  4. Priorities vital decisions for early in the day
  5. Leave lesser important decisions for later in the day
  6. Set time limits for decision making
  7. Limit your choices
  8. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet

These simple suggestions can reduce the number of daily decisions you will need to make and allow you to have the best possible foot forward when needing to make those all important decisions.

At Capacity Trust we offer life coaching services that can help you identify and determine how to reduce decision fatigue as well as help you sustain a productive and efficient lifestyle. Staff offering counselling and coaching services are registered with all the relevant local and international professional governing bodies. Find out more HERE