Decisions require mental work and our capacity to do this mental work is not unlimited. When we are drained or stressed our willpower to make good decisions becomes depleted, resulting in decision fatigue. This is why we commonly act more impulsively and indulge more during times of stress on things like sweets. An article titled ‘Quick: End Decision Fatigue Before It Drains Your Productivity Reservoir‘ by Fast Company outlines several studies that demonstrate how the quality of our decisions declines over the course of the day from court judge rulings to university students. Not only does decision fatigue affect the quality of our decisions it is actually physically exhausting. Given our increasingly busy lives it makes sense to take a hard look at how and where our best mental energy is being spent.
Overcoming Decision Fatigue
1. Plan Ahead
We have all heard the adage ‘Do not leave for tomorrow what can be done today’. This holds very true for decision making. There are a lot of decisions that can be made ahead of time to make life simpler when the day arrives. Outfits can be chosen the night before, breakfasts can be planned, scheduling errands, and many more day-to-day decisions can be done before bed so you don’t waste the refreshed will power on small mundane decisions.
Research indicates that our decision making capabilities are at their best in the morning. So it only makes sense that you would want to make your most important decisions as early in the day as possible. Tasks that are particularly error-prone or choices that require critical thinking are best done first.
3. Take Breaks
Research has found that our focus and willpower becomes somewhat replenished after meal breaks. So it makes sense to schedule tasks that cannot be done in the morning for right after lunch where possible. Taking small breaks of 5-15 minutes throughout the day can also help renew your decision making abilities as well and prevent you from becoming drained.
4. Delegate & Eliminate
Examine the decisions you find yourself making throughout the day, both big and small. At the end of the day examine what you’ve done and decide
a) whether or not the decision was necessary
b) whether or not the task or decision can be delegated to someone else on your team
Take advantage of opportunities to automate routine tasks in your day to day life. This can include very simple things like setting up pre-authorized debit for bills. If you have a good idea of how much you regularly consume you might consider having it automatically delivered on a schedule that you have predetermined. There are many grocery delivery services that offer this as well as options for items available on Amazon.com. Decreasing the number of decisions you have to make at home will allow you to be more productive at work.
6. Use Software
In cases where there are routine repeatable tasks in a business there is an opportunity that those processes can be automated. This is termed Business Process Automation. There are many apps available to automate and streamline a myriad of activities for both personal and business use. Where the right software hasn’t been built yet there is always the opportunity to have custom software developed.
We hope this article helped you think of some ways to reallocate your willpower and make the most of your time and energy.
Do less. Be more. Contact us at Gravit-e to find out what we can build to help you streamline your business to increase productivity and decrease decision fatigue.