Fight Decision Fatigue and be More Effective

By | December 20, 2013

checklistDoes this scenario sound familiar? At the end of a day full of making decisions and answering questions, someone asks what you want for dinner and you realize I have no idea what I would like to eat for dinner.

The term for this is decision fatigue and it refers to the idea that decision making is like a muscle that can get tired with over-use. Every choice makes you a little less able to make the next choice, until you are unable to decide about supper.

Blogger James Clear has some suggestions about tactics you can implement to fight decision fatigue. Here’s one that attracted our attention:

Plan daily decisions the night before. There will always be decisions that pop up each day that you can’t plan for. That’s fine. It’s just part of life. But for most of us, the decisions that drain us are the ones that we make over and over and over again.  For example, decisions like…What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I go to the dry cleaner before or after work? And so on.

All of those examples can be decided in 3 minutes or less the night before, which means you won’t be wasting your willpower on those choices the next day. Taking time to plan out, simplify, and design the repeated daily decisions will give you more mental space to make the important choices each day.

What about you—how do you keep yourself sharp in the face of countless decisions? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

16 thoughts on “Fight Decision Fatigue and be More Effective

  1. Paul Massari

    I agree, thinking about things the night before can definitely improve your productivity.
    I also write pointed lists to keep track of all the things I have to do.
    I usually use daily lists and monthly lists, so to maximize my effectiveness.

  2. Melanie Wilson

    Couldn’t be more true. I’m not a morning person, so I always make a list of what to do the next day before I go to bed. It helps me reaching maximum productivity level faster in the morning.

  3. John Sutcliffe

    I’ve not come across the term “decision fatigue” before but I understand what you mean by it.

    I go along with the idea of thinking about “tomorrow” things the night before. Just after I have climbed into bed is my best time for doing this.

    I’m not sure it makes me any sharper but it does help me remember things I need to do before setting out for the day.

  4. Lisa Hayden

    Couldn’t agree more with the other comments. I usually like to keep it simple by just getting on with the things and trying to complete my days’ to-do list. I am a morning person so am usually up couple of hours before the rest of the world. Gives me ample time to take things easy, think about the priorities and then just write them down. It has always worked for me.

  5. Alex Werner

    Every day I’m starting from one of the yesterday planned cases without any social sites and other. This helps to tune in a working mood for the whole day!

  6. Thomas

    These days I am always looking for ways to reduce the number of decision that I have to make. Very nice Text, thank you.

  7. David

    Interesting suggestions. I try to schedule difficult decisions early in the day, I think that helps. But planning decisions the day before makes sense as well.

  8. Linda Walsh

    Nice link! I think the best way to stop decision fatigue is to just stay organised. Every time I have a trivial decision that’s not high priority, I’ll just add to an excel spreadsheet at work, and make all the small decisions in batches. It clears some headroom for the big decisions.

  9. Kevin Smith

    “What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I go to the dry cleaner before or after work? ”
    i strongly agree with you that we should be ready before the next day 🙂 . Our thinking patterns or frequency will move forward from the questions and answers before you sleep.

  10. Jason Hall

    Like Justin said in the comments, one great way is to select everything, what to wear, what to eat etc the day before.

    that’s what i do and it’s effective for me !

  11. Steve

    I totally agree with you on this. I always had a hard time making simple decisions until when i decided to be making them way before the implementation time and the results have been amazing. making decisions beforehand now makes it easy for me to handle the day’s business and feel so relaxed at the end of it all. Thanks for sharing.


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