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What Is Decision Fatigue And How To Deal With It

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Sep. 30 2021, Published 4:30 a.m. ET

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Have you ever had those moments when you’re asked to make a decision and simply can’t do it? Generally, this comes during high times of stress, loss or after a long day of making micro-decisions all day. Where to eat. What to eat. What to wear. How many notebooks to buy for the kids. Those small choices add up by the end of the day and you’re all out of the capacity to make one more verdict on anything. This is decision fatigue.

Here are some tips for dealing with decision-making before fatigue hits and when it does.

Create And Follow Routines

Building a solid routine for your life helps with a lot of things like reducing stress, improving sleep, and helping you reach goals. Following that routine can also help you reduce the number of decisions you have to make every day, meaning you can lower your fatigue levels as well.

Stick to the same routine daily, too, to help avoid the issues. If you make coffee first thing, do it every day. If you set your clothes before bed, stick to that. Every routine item you do daily reduces the number of decisions you make each day – they’re automatic.

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Limit Your Options

In our society of options for everything, this may sound counterintuitive. But the reality is we are overloaded with choices because our world has catered to our need for individual expression. Don’t get me wrong – this is a wonderful thing! Having too many choices, however, isn’t so great. It can easily turn into an overwhelming ball of reality you can’t face.

So, instead of making more decisions every day, choose to limit your options by picking four or five meals you choose from for each workday (and then decide ahead of time which days you’ll eat what), keep the same coffee order every day. If your fatigue is extreme, you can even get all Steve Jobs and wear the same outfit every day. No matching, no pairing, no decisions.

Create Decision Time Limits

If you set a time limit by which you must make your choice, decisions can be easier and less overwhelming to make. Why? Because sometimes when we have an open-ended decision, we become so overwhelmed we can’t function. Instead, give yourself time limits.

For example, if you need to purchase a new car, don’t let the process drag out over weeks and weeks. Instead, give yourself one week to research, one week to do test drives and one day to compare and contrast your options before purchasing.

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Stack Your Decisions In Order Of Importance

One of the worst things you can do for yourself is leaving important decisions until the end of the day. By bedtime, you’re probably run out of energy to make wise choices, so instead, put those key decisions in the morning. Anything to do with financial decisions, career paths, schoolwork and relationships should be dealt with first thing, not last to avoid burn-out and overthinking.

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Don’t Make Decisions When You’re Hungry Or Tired

Ever notice how you buy junk food when you go shopping on an empty stomach? Decision-making of other kinds can also be affected by your hunger, as well as your tiredness. Grab a snack or quick nap before making any kind of choices, if at all possible.

Tune Into Your Feelings

Before making verdicts on big purchases, relationship status or anything else important, listen to your feelings. If you’re feeling overwrought, now is not the time to decide. If you’re making a lot of decisions today already, give yourself a break and rest instead of adding one more thing to the pile. Listening to your emotions, as well as your body, will help give you clarity and peace about the decisions you make.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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