Addressing Decision Fatigue


It feels liberating to know we have options and choices around us for every decision we take; right from our food, clothing, travel…the list goes on. After all, we live in a digital age. Yet, these aspects of the internet helping people learn faster and connect with people from all over the world brings its very own challenges. The amount of information available makes it difficult for us to focus on one thing.


Have you noticed? Steve Jobs was always seen wearing a black turtleneck, jeans and sneakers. Barack Obama on most days wears dark formal wear. Director Christopher Nolan favours a blue shirt and a blazer.

The reason? To prevent decision fatigue.    


You’ll see I only wear grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” said Barack Obama to Vanity Fair in 2012.


You might wonder - but these are some small decisions. How can this affect our ability to think rationally? So let's find out what is decision fatigue. 


What is Decision Fatigue? 

When a person is mentally exhausted, the ability to take good decisions starts deteriorating after a long session of decision-making. It is very common for every individual to go through this. Since we live in a fast-paced complex world, repeated decision-making saps your mental energy, reduces your willpower, and increases the probability of making irrational choices. 


In fact, some sources suggest that the average person makes eye-popping 35,000 choices per day. That number itself is mentally exhausting. Isn't it? 


Here are a few ways you could avoid decision fatigue in your everyday routine:

  1. Pre-plan your weekly meals and grocery shopping list. Research has shown that on average, we make 226 decisions per day about food. 

  2. Schedule all your important meetings in the morning. Studies show the human brain makes sound decisions in the mornings. 

  3. Keep a routine and set a time limit. For eg. dedicated hours for exercise, office work, hobby, and entertainment.

  4. Avoid procrastination as much as you can so that you deal with what’s bothering you first. 

  5. Decrease your options.

  6. Simplify your options.

  7. Once you’ve made your choice, stick with it. There can never be a perfect decision. So, second-guessing will only make you think more.

  8. Take the weekend off. Maintaining a work-life balance is the key to keep decision fatigue at bay.

  9. Do not take decisions when your emotions are flared. It reduces your mental ability to think rationally. Especially avoid making decisions when you are hungry or angry. Impulse decisions are hardly ever fair and If you can’t stop yourself from these impulse decisions then put them into a draft form, sleep over it and evaluate the next morning or delete them in the morning. It’s just not worth it.





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