Thursday, June 19, 2014

Decision-Making Fatigue: 3 Ways to Minimize Choices

Did you know that there's such a thing as decision-making fatigue? It's a real thing. Decision fatigue in psychology has to do with the way you begin to make poorer choices the longer you have to keep making decisions. The brain gets tired. You choose the path of least resistance and end up doing crazy things because you're so tired of making decisions. 

When every moment is about a decision, life becomes exhausting. You end up screaming at everyone, eating a whole chocolate cake, and impulse shopping. You end up watching too many episodes of something on TBS because you don't want to have to even decide whether to turn off the TV or not. So you just sit there and do nothing but eat cake. 

Has this happened to you? Does your brain hurt because every single moment is about making a decision? I've been learning how to minimize choices to gain energy, mental clarity, and sanity again. (I do this as a writing instructor, by the way. I give very easy templates that reduce decision-making for the students at first so they gain some energy and clarity.)

What am I learning about this? I'm so glad you asked. And please share your own wisdom in the comments! I would love more help!

1. First, for example, I stopped deciding whether to do certain things and relegated these activities to non-negotiable behaviors. Things like chores fall into this category. I spend no mental energy deciding on whether or not to empty the dishwasher, make the beds, clean the bathrooms, or sweep the floor. You just do it. No decisions needed.

2. I'm learning the value of advanced planning to create situations that require no decision making. Things like meal-planning and daily schedules for the kids fall into this category. Even laying out clothes the night before means I'm saving all the mental energy in the morning.

3. Lastly, when I know I'm going to have to make many choices about something (like packing the whole family for a trip), I've learned to start a week in advance and only spend an hour making choices about clothing and accessories. Otherwise, I find myself exhausted and crabby. It's decision fatigue.

I'm convinced that when we minimize choices--both for ourselves and our children--we find some new energy and wisdom. We can make better decisions because we're not so overloaded all the time.

I'm willing to bet that by noon today, you'll have made way too many decisions. I'm so curious to see what happens if you try to minimize all those decisions!

Living with flair has something to do with minimizing choices. I'm off to go make lunch (which I already decided on yesterday: fruit smoothies and sandwiches!)

1 comment:

allison said...

Wow - very eye opening! The second paragraph, - the one where you tell all the things one does when they have to make too many decisions - all that is me, right down to TBS! Maybe that explains why on a Saturday night I get crazy annoyed that my husband just can't pick a restaurant for dinner! It's because I OD'd on decisions all week. Geez, maybe he did too and wants a break from it as well. Going to try all three of your steps. Thank you and now I'm in the mood for a smoothie :o)