Do You Have Decision Fatigue?

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

We just finished a long day at work and somehow end up in the grocery store. It’s almost dinner time and you need food, but are overwhelmed with so many options. Now you’re aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles without the slightest clue what you need or want. No, nothing’s wrong with you.

You’re probably exhausted and on top of everything else are dealing with decision fatigue. We’re constantly making decisions throughout the day. They’re not all necessarily major decisions, but having to make a series of minor choices can still weigh on us. This is known as decision fatigue.

Simply put, decision fatigue is the mental exhaustion someone experiences after making a lot of decisions. That means the more decisions you make, the harder it becomes to make additional decisions. More often than not, you’re either giving up and stop making decisions completely or you’ll make impulsive or irrational choices. In addition to facing periods of making decisions one after the other, decision fatigue can also set in when you have an abundance of options.

So is there a difference between decision fatigue and indecisiveness? In short, yes. While decision fatigue is mental energy depletion that sets in after making a series of decisions in a fixed period of time, indecisiveness can be a character trait that results from chronic inability to make decisions, usually stemming from low self-confidence. Unsure if you or someone you know is experiencing decision fatigue?

Here are nine quick signs to look for. Number one, inability to think clearly or focus. Number two, frequent procrastination. Number three, avoidance of decision-making tasks.

Number four, irritability in a short temper caused, at least in part, by frustration with themselves. Number five, impulsivity. Number six, feeling overwhelmed and possibly even hopeless at times. Number seven, spending a lot of time making a decision.

Number eight, physical symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, headaches, and an upset stomach. And finally, number nine, a sense of dissatisfaction with any choice that is ultimately made. If several of those signs sound familiar, you may be dealing with decision fatigue. Here are some coping strategies to help you manage it.

Limit yourself to making no more than a few, like three or four, big choices per day. Make most of your important decisions early in the day, when you’re relatively charged with mental energy, and leave the lighter decisions for later on in the day. Plan your agenda a day in advance, so you’ll be better prepared with an early start the next day. Take regular work breaks to replenish your brain and arrange timely and adequate meals and snacks, along with, of course, in this heat, proper hydration all throughout the day.

If helpful, ask a supportive friend or partner to weigh in on your most difficult choices. When facing too many options, narrow down your selection to three. Don’t question yourself, and then from the final three, pick one. Avoid questioning your final decision.

Simply embrace your selection and move forward. If you get stuck, draft a simple pros and cons list, which can help facilitate objective and sound decision-making. Prioritize a list of tasks and create deadlines for yourself. Follow a set routine or structure, which helps to save time and bring a sense of consistency in your life.

Avoid impulsive decision-making. Postpone decisions if you must, rather than make a wrong move you might regret later. There’s a good chance that if you’re managing decision fatigue, you’re already pretty stressed. Reducing the anxiety and frustration caused by your inability to make decisions can go a long way toward improving your mental wellbeing.


Posted on

September 6, 2023