Decision fatigue: The deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.*
Raise your hand if 2020 has felt like a long session of decision making?
Decision fatigue can lead people to avoid decisions entirely, a phenomenon called “Decision avoidance.*
Raise your hand if 2020 has caused you to have some decision avoidance in your own business?
Decision fatigue occurs due to the mental exhaustion we face from having to make too many decisions.**
With so many decisions to be made right now, most of which are completely new and ambiguous situations, it’s no surprise many of us are suffering from decision fatigue or decision avoidance. It’s hard to make all the decisions that need to be made, and it’s hard to trust our own decision making ability when we do.
Recently, I realized this was happening to me in my own business. I found if I was questioning my ability to know if it was safe to go into Walgreens for a pack of gum, how could I possibly trust myself to make a good decision for my business?
Decision fatigue is a real psychological phenomena that has been researched and studied. You are not crazy if you’ve been having a harder time making decisions over the past 6 months. The good news is that by recognizing it as decision fatigue—not simply an inability to make a decision— we can do something about it.
What do we do now?
Identify your best decision making time – Studies show that people make more sound and fairer decisions earlier in the day. So plan business brainstorm sessions or calls with your team for early in your work day. And maybe save a potential heated or decision-laden conversion with your spouse for a weekend … not after your kids are in bed for the night (and you’ve used up your decision budget for the day.)
Make a list of the decisions you have to make – Keeping all the decisions you have to make in your head leads to overwhelm, and for me – decision paralysis. Getting my choices out of your head and onto paper helps you look at them a little more objectively. When you can see them all in front of you, you may realize that some decisions are actually easy to make and you can save the others for when you are at your decision-making peak time.
Reduce the number of decisions you have to make – You’ve probably heard Obama only wore gray or blue suits. He said “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Meal planning, writing a week’s worth of social media or getting organized for your work week on Sunday all reduce decision making fatigue during the week. If you aren’t thinking about what you are wearing, eating or writing on Instagram, you can focus on making a decision about the direction of your company.
Get support – Two heads are better than one. If you are feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed with what the right next step is for you in your business or how you will adapt to all the changes in the world, seek help. Schedule a walk with a trusted friend, book a call with a business coach or set up an appointment with a therapist. There are just too many decisions to hold in a single brain right now, get help.
And finally … trust that you make good decisions. You are smart, pragmatic and you have made a million good decisions in the past for your business, for your family and for your community. There is no doubt that there are a lot of really important decisions to be made right now. But you make good decisions.
Trust that you will again … just maybe wait until tomorrow morning.