Decision fatigue is a common challenge amongst ADULTS, let alone Business Owners but it’s a silent killer! We don’t even know we are struggling with it until someone points it out!
What is it?
You know that feeling when you’ve made so many decisions throughout the day that your brain feels like mush? You feel incapable of making another decision, even small things become overwhelming and all you want to do is curl up in a ball?
Yeah, we’ve all been there, and it can seriously affect our productivity and overall well-being.
Luckily, there are ways for you to combat decision fatigue;
- Prioritize Like a Pro: First things first, focus on what truly matters. Take a moment to identify the most critical decisions you need to make and tackle those early in the day when your mind is fresh. This way, you won’t get bogged down by less important choices later on. This can take some practice but in the long run it really helps. It’s why having some form of “to do” list is useful so that you don’t risk forgetting or missing things!
- Embrace Routines: We all want to be spontaneous and creative, but having some routines in place can be a lifesaver. When you automate certain daily tasks or stick to a regular schedule, you don’t waste mental energy on repetitive decisions. Let your brain relax a bit! One of the best things we have done in our house (my husband and I) is write weekly meal lists ahead of time. Each Friday we plan our meals for the week ahead and write them on a whiteboard on our fridge. Not only does this mean we only buy what we need when we go shopping, it also means that at the end of the working day when we are both tired, we don’t need to ask nor answer the dreaded question.. “what do you want for dinner”?! We also like to meal prep at the weekends ahead of time too – we make portions of overnight oats for breakfasts and batch cook things we can have for lunch.
- Limit Options: Having choices is great, but having too many can be overwhelming. Whether it’s picking a new software or deciding on what to talk about next, narrow down your options. Trust me; it’ll save you from the agony of analysis paralysis. While too narrow a niche/area of expertise is limiting, having to broad a subject matter is unhelpful. The options are endless so you will spend ages trying to decide on one. Find that sweet spot in your business of being enough of an expert to stand out, without limiting your potential customers to a handful.
- Delegate Wisely: As business owners, we often want to have our hands in everything. But, it’s essential to delegate responsibilities to SOMEONE. Ideally this would be a team member as you should be outsourcing as soon as possible BUT it is possible to delegate to future or past you, and it’s possible to get help from others on a limited basis. One of the best things I did for myself, reasonably early on in my business, was outsourcing my canva designs. I could spend HOURS messing around on Canva and still never get great designs. So I bought some social media templates from a graphic designer, later I bought workbook templates of etsy. These mean that all I need to do is input info into my templates, instead of designing new ones every time. The bonus is that it keeps my visuals consistent too! (Thank you past me!)
- Stay Organized: Keep your workspace neat and tidy. Clutter can add to decision fatigue because it constantly pulls your attention in different directions. A tidy environment can lead to a clearer mind and better decision-making. Whilst that’s not always the answer we want, speaking as a chronically messy person, there is something truly calming about a tidy workspace that really helps you to focus.
- Take Breaks and Breathe: In the hustle and bustle of running a business, it’s easy to forget to take breaks. But stepping away from the desk, going for a walk, or simply taking a few deep breaths can do wonders for your mental clarity. I really like the Pomodoro Technique for this; set a timer for 25 minutes and use that time for focussed work. When the timer goes off, you have 5 minutes to take a break. Get up, move around, make a cuppa! Repeat this pattern 4 times (which takes 2 hours) and then take a longer break. Try to get outside at least during this longer break. Trust me, the difference fresh air can make is enormous!
- Sleep Matters: Quality sleep is essential! When you’re well-rested, you’re more focused and better equipped to handle decision-making challenges. If you’re feeling run down, overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day, the worst thing you can do is keep working. Even when you’re under the pressure of a deadline. The best thing you can do is step away and take a break – come back refreshed. You’ll not only be quicker, you’ll also do better quality work.
- Tap into Technology: We live in a digital age, so why not leverage technology to our advantage? Use tools like decision-making apps or project management software to help streamline your choices. A really simple tool you can use is Trello – you can do so much with even the free version! It allows you to write to do lists, add deadlines, tag helpers, get notified when you’re about to hit a deadline and so much more.
- Learn from Mistakes: Decision fatigue can lead to poor choices. But don’t beat yourself up about it! Instead, view mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning. Reflect on what went wrong, make adjustments, and move forward. Don’t let a mistake from your past, limit your opportunities in the future. You are more than the mistakes you’ve made so don’t dwell on them!
- Slow down to speed up: When we are under pressure, we tend to go head first into things and hope for the best. This often leads to us doing unnecessary work or making things harder for ourselves. While it feels counter-intuitive to do so, slow down. Really think about and assess your options before you start doing the work. What’s the quickest and easiest way for you to achieve the end goal? How can you do work once, but capitalise on it again and again?
Remember, combating decision fatigue is all about finding what works best for you and your business. Take it one step at a time, and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for every small victory along the way.
Now, go out there and make those decisions with confidence! Your business will thank you for it.
- Schwartz, B. (2004). The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. New York: Ecco.
- Ma, Q., & Wu, T. (2017). Decision Fatigue, Mental Fatigue, and Effortful Choices. The Economic Journal, 127(605), 838-858. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12413