Have you ever felt like you couldn’t possibly make one more decision? It happened to me. There I was in grocery store walking around aimlessly. You see, I was charged with bringing dinner for the kiddos in our church small group. I wanted to offer them something relatively healthy, but I didn’t want them to go hungry because anyone didn’t like something. Ahhhhhh! I was near tears and torn between all the options. It was at that moment, I realized, I had decision fatigue.
What is decision fatigue?
Simply put, you’ve made so many decisions that you can’t seem to weigh out the options. The funny thing is, the majority of the decisions you make, you don’t even think about. For example, deciding to drink coffee in the morning: which cup to put it in? how much? add cream? add sugar? add collagen? grind the coffee fresh or use pre-ground beans? pour a travel mug or only drink a cup at home? take it upstairs while you get dressed or leave it downstairs to cool? See what I’m getting at here?
At a certain point, your brain can get exhausted just from the day to day stuff. Never mind the decisions you are constantly researching and weighing options on. Which pair of running shoes should I order? Which backpack is best for my kid? Should I be eating the Mediterranean diet or paleo? What is the healthiest and fastest thing to make for dinner tonight that everyone will eat?
Ultimately, all these decisions can feel like a hit to our confidence. I ate some candy at the office today, that must mean I don’t have any willpower. After work, I came home and plopped down on the couch instead of cleaning, that must mean I have no motivation. We start to see ourselves for those small moments we perceive as less than ideal, instead of focusing on all the amazing choices and actions we’ve taken.
Read more about it here at Rescue Time.
How can I avoid decision fatigue?
Here are a few things I’ve done to TRY to help myself not get so burned out by all the choices.
Reduce decisions: When my son had to wear a uniform 1 day a week, I put him in uniform at least twice a week. It was SO much easier! Having less options does make it a little easier in a way. He isn’t at a uniform school this year, but don’t worry, I have a plan for that ;). A black dress can be worn a lot of different ways for work. Accessorize! With meals, planning helps me a lot, but also, simplifying those plans. Maybe every Monday you have roasted chicken in some form because it’s cheap that day at Earth Fare. Breakfast for dinner every Thursday because you’re tired of cooking and it’s easy? I’m not judging, I’m applauding!
Prioritize decisions: Some decisions may take more thought than others. What school to send your child to weighs slightly more than which curl ironing to purchase, right? I hope we’re on the same page with that one 😉 There are ‘experts’ who say get the little stuff out of the way first. There are ‘experts’ who say to focus on the harder decisions first. I say, if the most invigorated and focused part of your day is the morning, that’s probably when you want to make your bigger decisions. If that’s the afternoon for you, then you may want to push those decisions a little later in the day. The mental power to weigh out and sift through information requires some focus and stamina. And don’t forget, a big decision is best made when you are not at your emotional wits end.
Just make the decision already: Ok, sure, some decisions really do require more thought, but ultimately making a decision, any decision, can feel good. Speaking from experience, sometimes fear of judgement can impact our way of thinking and ability to choose more than it should. We have to remember that what is right for us (and our families) is not necessarily right for someone else, but that’s ok. And again, I bet if you think about it, most of the decisions we’re making aren’t hugely impactful to our lives. Most decisions can be changed or reversed. And if you do have a decision gone bad, I like to think it’s leading you to an even better situation 🙂
When have you felt decision fatigue? What have you found to ease that burden?