The evening is here and you are exhausted. Instead of working on your startup, you decide to sit on the couch and tune in to a mindless TV show.
As your day transitions into the evening, you become worn down and you start making poor decisions that are not propelling you in a positive direction.
Instead, you’ve hit a wall of decision fatigue, and you…
- Crawl in bed early instead of working out
- Pick up fast food on the way home instead of cooking a healthy meal
- You scroll through Facebook instead of reading that book you’ve been wanting to read
Your decisions are based on the path of least resistance, and become less beneficial for your wellbeing… but why does this happen?
Decision Fatigue – the deteriorating quality of decisions due to used decision bandwidth
Decision fatigue occurs when you hit a tipping point, and you start to feel exhausted by all the decisions you’ve been making throughout the day. The result: you start to make choices that lead to the path of least resistance.
Unfortunately, when you choose the path of least resistance you’re likely creating circumstances which keep you from attaining your goals or your ideal lifestyle.
Think about it… before your feet even hit the floor in the morning, you decide if you want to hit the snooze button or get up and face the world. It may feel like a subconscious decision, but in that split second you are having a full conversation with yourself – weighing the pros and cons of sleeping for 10 more minutes.
Then you have to decide the following before you even sit down at your desk.
- What are you going to wear for the day?
- What shoes are you going to wear?
- How will you do your hair?
- What are you going to eat for breakfast?
- What do you need to bring to work with you?
- Wash your hair or don’t wash your hair… you ladies know what I’m talking about!
- …. and many more
Then, by the time you get to work you are hit with a whole slew of new work-related decisions — decisions which may be much more important and can require significantly more brain power.
No wonder you are making terrible decisions by the end of the day. On average you are making 35,000 decisions per day and 226.7 just have to do with food!
Subconscious Decision vs. Conscious Decision
Habits are controlled by your subconscious mind. You do not need to consciously decide what to do next, or how to complete the task. Take brushing your teeth as an example.
You’ve been brushing your teeth by yourself since you were about 5 years old and you have your routine. Personally, I have a pretty meticulous process for brushing my own teeth with my right hand, and I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard it would be to re-learn my entire process with my left hand!
Unlike a routine, a conscious decision takes concentrated brain power, and an evaluation of the circumstances in order to come to a conclusion.
What if your ENTIRE morning was set into a subconscious, decision-free routine? You’d be able to conserve your brain power and maximize your daily efficiency. What steps can you take to prolong your capacity for good decision making and avoid decision fatigue when it really matters?
Here are 3 tips to reduce your chances of hitting decision fatigue:
1. Form habits/routines for your day
Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day to eliminate the decision-making process of “What should I wear?” Now I’m not saying you should do the same, but you can see how removing this decision can open up so much space in your thought process. I’d never commit to wearing the same thing every day, because I love seeing personalities shine through wardrobe choices, but I understand why Steve chose to.
Here are a few suggestions to help you here:
- Choose your outfit the evening before
- Prepare your coffee pot with coffee grounds, water, and a coffee cup the night before
- Collect your breakfast food and put it all on the same shelf in the fridge the night before
- Stick to a routine in the morning
This is my morning routine:
- Wake up
- Drink a glass of water
- Floss & brush teeth
- Wash face
- Put my make up on
- Do my hair
- Get dressed
- Grab my purse and brief case
- Grab my coffee in a to-go cup
- Grab my keys
- Kiss the dog
Over time, I made each step a habit, and I’m able to complete each step in that order without giving it thought. This is one of the many ways you’ll be able to start to eliminate decision fatigue and prolong your capacity for good decision making.
2. Meal prepping isn’t just for the health conscious
If you find yourself swinging through the drive-thru on the way home instead of cooking, decision fatigue is the reason why. You are experiencing two factors of decision fatigue. The first is you’re missing the fuel to make a decision because you are hungry. Studies have shown that judges make a more favorable decision for the defendant first thing in the morning and after lunch.
The second factor is you’ve used all of your good decision makings earlier in the day, and now you are choosing the path of least resistance. If you are trying to feed your body and mind healthier food, try meal prepping. You can start with very small steps. One of the easiest methods is using a crock pot to make delicious meals.
The key is creating a routine 🙂
3. Make BIG decisions in the AM
If you have a gut-wrenching choice up, wake up earlier to make a commitment to your decision. First, grab a cup of coffee. Find a comfy spot, make a pro’s and con’s list and reaffirm your commitment. Once that monkey is off your back, you’ll reduce your decision fatigue for the rest of the day, and have confidence in what you are doing.
Those are just a few ways to start turning conscious decisions into low-bandwidth subconscious decisions. Let me know about your top ways to reduce decision fatigue!