We’ve all been there. The endless decisions we’re confronted with every day is nothing short of astounding. It wouldn’t be so awful if our choices were between black and white. The reality, however, is we’re forced to make decisions involving many shades of gray, making it increasingly difficult to decide on an option. Choosing can be overwhelming to say the least. What is decision fatigue. Here are 5 tips to lessen the load and free up your brain power.
Do You Suffer From Information Overload And Decision Fatigue?
If you feel like capitulating when bombarded with the never ending decisions coming your way, you may be suffering decision fatigue. Are you tempted to make no decision at all by default when the overwhelm becomes too great?
The more decisions you’re forced to make, the more impaired your judgment may become. It takes too darn much brain power to keep up with it all. Information overload, not only impairs your ability to make sound decisions, but to make them in a timely manner, as well.
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5 Steps To Combat Decision Fatigue And Overwhelm
Follow the tips below to more effectively manage your decision fatigue:
1. Decision Making And Problem Solving
I don’t make important decisions at night. My thought processes are not sharp enough to make an effective choice. I think decisions, particularly important ones, are best made in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Our brains sort and file information while we sleep so we are best equipped to make decisions after a full night’s rest, especially ones where the outcome matters a lot.
I know for me, solutions to intractable problems are far more apt to come when my mind isn’t distracted by the constant pressures of the day. Or when I’m in multi-tasking mode, which I typically am in all day, every day. Mornings bring with them renewed perspective, courage, and strength. Make your most important decisions in the morning.
Of course, each of us has a circadian rhythm unique to us so nights may actually be better for you to weigh your options, especially if you’ve been under stress, and your adrenals aren’t functioning as they should. Low cortisol in the morning may lead to low energy levels and brain fog, which aren’t exactly conducive to good decision making.
2. Your Health, Your Choice
A big area of decision-making centers around health, including what to eat, if and when to exercise, and what time to go to bed. You can greatly simplify matters by making pre-made decisions in these areas. For instance, have a set time you go to bed every night. The guesswork is then taken out of when to go to bed as you’ve already decided. This will reduce your decision fatigue.
The same goes for food. I’m a big believer in having routine meals, meaning you choose every day between two or three different meal options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Having unlimited choices will give you brain damage. If your fridge and pantry are well stocked, all you have to do is throw the macros together. The macro nutrients are protein, carbs, and fat. Better still, plan out your meals for the week on Saturday and Sunday.
Make a definitive decision that you’re going to eat healthy the majority of the time. You won’t have to decide between a donut or a cupcake. You already know those aren’t on the menu. Keep your meals simple. Good health doesn’t require fancy meals, only nutritious ones. I have been practicing intermittent fasting so I eat just two meals a day. I can’t tell you how it’s freed up my time and energy. No longer do I have to take the time to make and eat breakfast, and do the laborious clean up.
The same principle applies to exercise. Make the decision at the beginning of each week, which days you’ll exercise, where, and for how long. You’ve magically eliminated one ongoing decision from your life. By planning when and where you’ll exercise, you’ve totally eliminated the decision of whether to work out or not.
3. Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle
Each one of us has a finite supply of decision-making abilities so the fewer decisions you’re required to make, the longer your supply will last. Design your life so many of your decisions are somewhat on auto pilot. I’ve heard that many successful people wear the same clothes.
I know Tony Robbins. I don’t mean he literally wears the same style of clothing day after day and sticks to it. It takes the guesswork out of what to wear, which for many of us, is a significant source of decision fatigue.
Limit what you buy and who you hang out with. See how it’s about limiting, rather than adding? Infinite options are exhausting. Peoples’ eyes glaze over when they’re presented with too many options. I know when we were building a house, the decisions just kept on coming. Choosing paint color, or plants, or doorknobs would have been so much simpler if the offering included just two choices rather than a dizzying array of choices.
Are our complicated lifestyles serving us? I would say, No! Deep down don’t we all crave simplicity? I know I do. A hectic lifestyle and hurried pace no longer resonate with me, depleting my emotional and mental reserves, and who wants that? Check out this great book that will teach you how to make better decisions in life and work. You can also purchase it as an audiobook.
4. Learn How To Delegate
There will be days, many of them, in fact, when your mental resources are sputtering on fumes. You’re distracted, your plans are interrupted, and you can’t think straight. I have one word for you; delegate, and then delegate some more. Put your ego aside, realizing you can’t and don’t have to do it all. If you try, you’ll be ineffective. Take care of yourself by sharing the load.
For instance, when my kids were little, I made their beds every single morning for them – for years. This wore me out more than I realized, and didn’t give them the chance to feel good about their contributions. But I was rushed, like usual, and it was easier to plow through their rooms, doing it myself. Don’t be like me.
I’m not just talking about tasks here, but decision-making, as well. Make the necessary decisions that only you can make, letting other trusted people in your life lighten your burden. I’m going out on a limb here. For all you control freaks out there, let your husband make some of the household decisions if he isn’t already. Devise a plan that works for you both. And if you’re making decisions for your kids that they should be making, stop!
Delegate both tasks and decision-making in your work place. If you can afford it, hire a virtual or personal assistant. This will greatly lessen your brain fatigue. You can’t be everything to everyone. Actually, you can for awhile until burnout hits, and then you’ll pay the price! Try limiting your options to free up your vital energy.
Identify areas in your life where you’re getting tripped up, and troubleshoot how and where you can tweak things to make your life more enjoyable. Spending too much time on social media? Put a hard limit on the amount of time you spend on it, and when. If the option to browse your Facebook feed at 10:00 in the morning isn’t an option, you’ll likely forego the temptation. Of course, you’ll have to exercise self-control and discipline, but you can do that right?
Better yet, if you’re in a stressful period, and you’re short on time, go on a digital detox altogether. It will free up your mental and emotional resources, giving you more time to finish nagging tasks. Decisions have to be made when you’re on social media.
Will you like, share, or comment? Or will you read the next interesting article or save it for later? Will you get on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? You didn’t realize the decisions that were required of you, did you? Consider taking a break from other forms of entertainment like Netflix or channel surfing. You won’t have to decide what to watch.
How To Make Strategic Decisions
I know there are many decisions we have to make outside of our health, clothing, and family. Work-related decisions, housing, cars, finances, retirement, relationships, it goes on and on, and it can be utterly soul crushing at times. Control the decisions that are within your power to control, and you’ll reduce the exhaustion and fatigue you’re feeling.
It’s a Catch 22. The more you free up your mental energy, the better you’ll become at decision-making, which further frees up more energy not having to deliberate for hours over your choices. This will be particularly helpful when you have to make practical decisions under pressure. Increase your decision-making capacity by pre-deciding. Decide what you will and will not eat, what you’ll wear, and when you’ll go to bed. This makes shopping for food and clothes much less complicated, saving you time and energy.
Stick to your financial budget. If the money isn’t there for that new purchase, the decision is already made. It sounds simple, but pre-deciding frees up your mental resources for the really imperative decisions you’ll undoubtably have to make. And those toxic people in your life? Pre-decide to limit your exposure to them.
Pre-decide every week that you’ll devote a certain amount of time for self-care. If you don’t plan for it, it won’t happen so schedule you into your calendar. Here’s a convenient magnetic scheduling calendar that makes it easy to plan out your week. I like these dry-erase type planners as you can easily erase and add tasks to them.
Life requires us to make decisions on a regular basis. Some days are easier than others. It’s really all about preserving mental and emotional energy. When your energy wanes, you’ll have less focus, less creativity, and less joy so it pays to devise a plan to prevent that from happening.
Follow the tips above on those days when you can’t seem to muster the brain power to make even one single choice. Just knowing that decision fatigue is a thing makes it easier to deal with. And do know, you’re not alone. Decision fatigue happens to every single person on this planet.
Do you suffer decision fatigue? What strategies make decision-making easier? Let me know in the comments:)
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.