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To be, or not to be: 3 ways to avoid decision fatigue

To be, or not to be: 3 ways to avoid decision fatigue

May 4, 2017 by Stella Petrou Concha

Ever gotten to the end of the day and been too mentally drained to even decide what to eat for dinner? You’re not alone.

The average human makes around 35,000 choices every single day, according to researchers at Roberts Wesleyan College, meaning your brain is constantly firing on all cylinders (whether you realise it or not).

This mental exhaustion is commonly referred to as ‘decision fatigue’, and it occurs when a person’s brain has run out of decision-making juices. Insignificant as everyday choices might seem, taking them off your brain’s plate will leave room for more essential decisions and extend your daily mental battery life. Luckily, there are some handy ways to do this, as demonstrated by clever, hard-working people like Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.

1. Expedite your daily activities

The famous people mentioned above all have one thing in common: they wear virtually the same outfit everyday. Why? To minimise the decision-making brain power they waste each morning on trivialities. In addition to pre-planning an outfit, it would be wise to have a set schedule for your daily exercise, breakfast, grocery shopping, dinner, and so on.

Planning out your week like this will not only help you stay organised, it will prevent your brain from wasting energy on mundane subconscious decisions.

Choosing new, exciting clothes every day might be fun, but it will drain your mental energy.

2. Do the most important thing first

This step is fairly straightforward; studies have shown that we are most productive in the earlier hours of the day because our brain tanks are full. If you know you have a number of important decisions to make during your day, try to do so in the morning when you’re feeling mentally fresh.

3. Organise your decision-making process

When you’ve gotten to work, it is imperative to have a solid decision-making structure to guide you through some of the tougher choices, like this one from Forbes:

  1. determine whether or not the decision goes against your values – if not, proceed to the next step.
  2. consider the likely outcome and the worst-case scenario – if you are happy with the first and comfortable with the second, proceed to the next step.
  3. evaluate the costs versus the benefits – is this a valuable use of your time, energy and resources? If so, make the decision.

Our contemporary world is filled to the brim with an immense amount of stimulus, ranging from social media to highway billboards. With that mental stimulation comes a mind-bending number of decisions we must make on a day-to-day basis, so make your life easier by following these suggestions!


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