Decision Fatigue is real. And it's a problem.

It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day.

Granted, many of them are small decisions like what to eat for breakfast, what makeup to wear, which way to drive to work.

‘Decision Fatigue’ is a term created by social psychologist Roy F Baumeister and refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made my an individual, after continuously making decisions.

In a time when technology is speeding up, life is getting more hectic and thing seem to require immediate attention, sometimes a day is full of decision after decision.  And a lot of them are decisions with big impact on both you and your family’s life. 

The best way to help with decision fatigue it to make fewer decisions.  By that I mean to choose what decisions need to be made – and which don’t. 

My goal in life is to make as few decisions as possible about anything.  To simplify and streamline life so I can enjoy myself more.

Negative Effects of Decision Fatigue

There are a lot of ways that decision fatigue can negatively effect you.  It will vary from person to person – and there will possibly be more than I’ve listed below:

  •  Increased stress levels
  • Overwhelm

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Burnout / adrenal fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Unhappiness

  • Procrastination

  • Poor decisions

  • Fatigue

My tips for decision fatigue

These are some of the things that help me with decision fatigue.  It’s something I needed to work on when I started work in my clinic.  More time out of the home = less time for me to make decisions.

  • Menu plan.  Life is busy.  Really busy.  And the last thing I was to think about is what we are having / making for dinner every night.  It really can become very stressful.  Having a loose menu plan and a bunch of ingredients in the house really helps.  I’m not talking a rigid menu plan that cannot be changed.  The key for me is also to make the meals quite big so there are enough leftovers for lunch the next day.  Leftovers are the best!

  • Make fewer decisions.  As crazy as that sounds, it is achievable.  For example, planning your days ahead of time will take that stress away.  You already know what you are making/having for dinner(see above, Menu Planning).  Go a little further and plan your lunches – are you going to pack a lunch, take leftovers or buy that day. Find ways to automate as many decisions as possible.  Things like auto renewals of essentials (car insurance, electricity, Foxtel etc).  That’s one less thing to worry about.

  • Share the decision making.   If you are in a 2 parent household you should be sharing decisions. Also, if you have children over a certain age, get them to make their own decisions also.  It’s a good way for them to learn how to navigate life when they leave home.  Too often we do everything for our kids – to their detriment.    If this is new in your household, introduce the idea slowly.  It’s worth the investment of your time! 

  • Ask yourself “is this worth my time”.   Some decisions are big and will take time to process or discuss with your significant other/partner/children.   Others are quick fixes.   **it’s also a good idea when you are presented with a quick fix, you can ask yourself if it’s a decision that can be outsourced/delegated/automated going forward.

  • Simplify your life.  Yes, take away the extra options.  When it comes to making big decisions do what you can to reduce the stress and options.  For example, I went shopping last week for a new fridge/freezer.  I knew that basics of what was required – how many litres, what style (I chose an upside down fridge with freezer on bottom) and the price range.  When I went into the store it took me all of 10 minutes to make the choice.  Easy peasy.   It’s also helpful to remember this when you are shopping around.  If you are a serious bargain hunter, work out if the extra time you spend is worth it.  How much of your LIFE are you giving up to save $50??.

  • Wearing the same style of clothing each day.  Unless you’re a fashion lover (not me) and it’s your thing, deciding what to wear each day can really do your head in.  There are plenty of successful people in the world who have chosen to wear basically the same thing every day: think Barack Obama; Steve Jobs; Mark Zuckerberg.  What I wear is not important and does not go towards achieving my goals.  For this reason, I wear the same thing to work every day – the same style of pants and top every single day.  I cannot explain how much that has freed my morning up.

Give these ideas a go and let me know if they are helpful in reducing your decision issues x


Photo credits:
Alexander Schimmeck; Ben White; Glenn Carstens Peters – all from Unsplash