Have you ever felt tired, stressed, or overwhelmed after a full day of making tough decisions? That feeling isn’t just in your head. It’s probably the result of decision fatigue, a real phenomenon that can weigh on your psyche and interfere with both the quality of your decisions and your overall productivity. Fortunately, there are some key strategies that can help you reduce decision fatigue in your own life.
How Decision Fatigue Works
Let’s start by digging into how decision fatigue works. The better you understand it, the better you can guard against it. The general idea is that making decisions is like using a muscle; the more you use it, especially in rapid succession, the more “tired” it gets. If you make too many decisions throughout a day, or in an hour, the quality of your decisions will deteriorate, and you may feel negative psychological effects from the weight of those decisions, such as stress. You may also suffer from decreased self-regulation, making you more vulnerable to distractions and indulgences.
How to Reduce Decision Fatigue
So what can you do to reduce decision fatigue in your own life? Here are 7 ideas you can start using right away.
1. Sign up for meal delivery
First, consider signing up for a meal delivery service, or at least creating some kind of meal prep strategy. It’s not just the big decisions that interfere with your productivity—small decisions can add up to weigh on you as well. If you can eliminate a group of those decisions by planning all your meals in advance, you can greatly reduce fatigue on a daily basis.
2. Plan your clothes in advance
Along similar lines, you can plan your clothes and outfits far in advance. Mark Zuckerberg and other consequential business leaders have gone as far as wearing the same thing every day to reduce decision fatigue, but you don’t have to be this extreme. Merely laying out your clothes in advance can be enough to minimize decision fatigue.
3. Make more decisions in advance
While you’re at it, try making more decisions in advance when you have the tolerance for them. For example, most entrepreneurs are going to be making the bulk of their decisions during the course of the Monday-Friday workweek. On Sunday, you probably won’t make many decisions, so consider using that time to make some decisions for the week in advance. That way, you’ll stress less while focusing on your most important business decisions.
4. Create replicable habits
Next, try keeping your schedule as consistent as possible, building and reinforcing habits on a daily basis. That way, you can start work immediately without having to decide what to work on first. The more consistent these habits are, the better. Alternatively, if your schedule and responsibilities aren’t conducive to a consistent schedule, consider making a straightforward algorithm for determining which priority to work on next, so the decision is practically made for you.
5. Delegate more decisions to employees
You can also make fewer decisions as a leader in your business by enabling your employees and partners to make decisions on your behalf. For example, you can appoint an account manager for each of your clients, and allow them to make most decisions about their specific clients without consulting you. You’ll get more done throughout the day, saving on communication, and you’ll end up making fewer decisions yourself.
6. Utilize experts
Of course, there are some decisions your employees can’t make themselves; for example, decisions pertaining to the direction of the business or high-level financial decisions should be left to you. If you’re struggling with one of those decisions, consider outsourcing some of the burden of those decisions to experts. If you’re torn between two options, ask a mentor what they think about the dilemma, or talk to someone who’s a specialist in the area where you lack expertise. You’ll still need to make the final call, but you’ll spend less time processing the information—and you’ll feel more confident with the backing of an expert.
7. Delay your most important decisions
Procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. If you find yourself at the end of a long, decision-filled day and you have a major decision to make, it might be better to delay making that decision. You should be making your most important decisions early in the day, or on days with few decisions, and your least important decisions in your fatigued state.
Decision fatigue isn’t the biggest problem you’ll face as an entrepreneur, but it’s significant enough to be non-negligible. Put some effort into planning your work style and your workdays to reduce the impact of decision fatigue in your life, and start making better decisions—with fewer distractions to pull you away from what’s important.