How many decisions do you make before you leave your house in the morning? What to wear? What to eat for breakfast? Whether to have coffee now or later? What route you should take to work? These everyday decisions are just the beginning of many more pieces of information to weigh. And, many more decisions, both large and small, to make throughout the day. The more decisions we make on any given day, the more our energy, will power, judgement and critical thinking skills begin to wane. This is also known as ‘decision fatigue’. It’s what often leads to those, ‘why did I just do that?!’ moments. You know, where you opt for that slice of pizza after a long day, instead of cooking a healthy dinner at home. The good news is, once you’re aware of the impact decision fatigue can have, you’re one step closer to conquering it. Here are a few pointers to help you avoid decision fatigue, and make better choices for your life and work.
Simplify and unify your wardrobe
You can’t always predict what’s coming our way on any given day. But, we can anticipate the basics. For example, you’ll definitely need to get dressed before leaving the house, regardless of the weather, or where you’re going. So, instead of wasting precious mental energy and time trying to pick an outfit every morning, have a uniform ready. Something for work days, something for weekends, and something a little dressed up for nights out. Remember, don’t overthink or overcomplicate this. Simplicity is the name of the game. Stick to colours, styles, and silhouettes that make you feel comfortable and confident. And, of course, select versatile pieces that are appropriate for your workplace. Do yourself a solid, and save even more time by selecting and laying out your outfit the night before. One less step for your busy morning. And, less chance of decision fatigue or poor judgement later in the day. This time and energy saving tactic is good enough for Mark Zuckerberg, the late Steve Jobs and Karl Lagerfeld. So, it’s good enough for you.
Sleep On It
Some decisions will have a much more significant impact on your mental, physical, emotional, professional, personal, or financial life than others. Some will impact multiple areas of your life. If a decision is large, or meaningful enough, take a breather, and sleep on it. Create some distance between yourself and the decision. This way, you can re-approach it with clarity and “fresh eyes”. We suggest giving it at least 24-48 hours before you have to call it. This way, you’ve reduced the heightened emotions, and the associated physical symptoms, often triggered from a sense of urgency.. Practically, a good night’s sleep helps us process information, improve our judgement, organize our memories, and solve complex problems more effectively. So, get some ZZZ’s before you make those big decisions. Your future self will thank you.
Optimize your schedule
If you hit that 2pm to 3pm wall, you’re not alone. Most of us have crashed after our lunchtime meal, and are exhausted from having made dozens, if not hundreds of decisions all day. That’s why, for most people, this isn’t the optimal time to have high stakes, important meetings where you’ll likely be making critical decisions. Whenever possible, schedule your most important, or cognitive dense meetings in the morning.
If you’re a creative, mornings are likely the best time to engage in deep work, while you have the most energy. Avoid meetings that might mentally, emotionally, or physically drain your energy away from the creative work ahead of you. Or, if you’re a nightowl, delve into more creative work in the quiet of the night. Whatever time of the day allows you to truly become and stay focused and engaged, optimize your schedule by blocking off that time in your calendar, and keep it sacred