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How to Deal with Decision Fatigue?

woman multitasking and experiencing decision fatigue

Every day, we face myriad choices and endless decision-making. That often leads to decision fatigue, which depletes our cognitive resources. As a result, decision-making can become challenging, regardless of the significance of the decision. Let’s explore the frequent causes of decision fatigue and practical strategies to mitigate its impact. 

What are the causes of decision fatigue?

Information overload

We have immediate access to so much information and options. That might overwhelm our decision-making process and lead to poorer choices. On top of that, we often become distracted and indecisive. 

Limited cognitive resources 

We are continuously making decisions in our day-to-day lives. That requires significant mental effort. Unfortunately, we do not have unlimited cognitive resources, and our decision-making process efficacy might decline fast. 

Lack of rest and lack of sleep

Lack of sleep and physical exhaustion significantly contribute to weaker cognitive resources and challenge our decision-making. We are likely to experience brain fog when we are exhausted. 

Emotional factors and decision fatigue

Emotional factors refer to the influence of feelings, attitudes, and moods on an individual’s behaviour and decision-making process. These positive and negative factors can significantly impact our cognitive abilities and focus. Many of us are guilty of poor choices when in a bad mood. 

woman by a lake, refleckting to make an important decision

Complexity of decisions and repetitive decision-making 

Decision fatigue sets in quickly when dealing with numerous complex decisions. So does frequent decision-making, regardless of complexity. 

Environmental factors

Environmental factors such as distractions, chaos, mess, and noise immensely impact our decision-making process.

Time pressure

Most of us will become stressed out and exhausted when forced to make decisions when rushed. Deadlines and demands for quick action and hands-on problem-solving are the principal causes of decision fatigue for most of us. 

Uncertainty

Uncertainty or lack of information when making decisions will substantially increase mental effort and can lead to decision fatigue.

overwhelmed city woman, stessed and with decision fatigue

How can we reduce decision fatigue?

Create routines

Having routines can tremendously reduce frequent and repetitive decision-making in our day-to-day lives. Start with evening, morning, daily and weekly cleaning routines to save precious mental energy when dealing with mundane tasks. 

Plan ahead to improve decision fatigue

Using planners and to-do lists will help keep track of various tasks and decisions by freeing up some mental space. Regular brain dump and journaling practice can help with decision-making and organising thoughts.

Prioritise

Focus only on important and urgent decisions. Schedule non-urgent ones. Delegate as much as you can. 

Break tasks into smaller ones. Limit choices

Yes, we do need to see the bigger picture. But when facing complex decisions, breaking them into manageable chunks is advisable. It is best to narrow down the options when faced with decisions to reduce overwhelm. 

Get adequate sleep. Take breaks

Sufficient sleep and rest time are non-negotiable. Having adequate snooze and rest will allow mental energy to recharge. Taking breaks throughout the day will also help reduce decision fatigue and increase mental energy and efficacy.

Say NO 

Do your best to not over-commit and over-stretch yourself. If you are already busy or running on low mental energy, saying NO to extra tasks or activities can avoid more decision-making and stress. 

Embrace healthy lifestyle

A healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise can significantly improve energy levels and cognitive function. Be aware of the positive effects of mindfulness and relaxation on managing stress and improving concentration.

Final thoughts

Modern decision-making in a hectic lifestyle and information overload is a complex matter and cause of mental overwhelm. Therefore, mastering the skill of understanding decision fatigue, including its causes and possible solutions, is crucial. This can only bring us more balance and mental clarity when navigating our daily lives and all of its challenges. 

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