— January 4, 2019
As a leader, it falls to you to make countless decisions every single day, including decisions both major and miniscule. The cumulative effect of all these decisions can frankly be exhausting. Over time, you may develop an acute case of decision fatigue—exhaustion at all the choices you have to make each day, which can make it harder to continue making wise ones.
If you feel like you’ve come down with decision fatigue, I’ve got some good news: There are steps you can take to combat this feeling. Let me offer just a few specific suggestions.
How to Overcome Decision Fatigue
Use lists to make fewer decisions. A lot of your daily decisions can actually be avoided if you make a list and stick to it. For example, rather than walking through the supermarket trying to decide what you should buy, simply adhere to a grocery list. Daily to-do lists can have the same positive impact.
Delegate. Hopefully, you’re surrounded by team members you trust—and if so, that means you have people to whom you can delegate decision making, especially on comparatively minor matters. Save your own decision making energy for the really big and impactful items.
Time your decision making. There is a lot of research to suggest that the best time to make big decisions is in the morning, which is when most of us have the most energy and the highest degree of decision-making tolerance. If you know you’ve got to make a decision about something, try to do it earlier in your work day.
Limit your options. For example, trying to decide between 100 different pieces of software can be maddening—so why not research two or three options, compare price points and overall value, then make a decision? Don’t allow yourself to become swamped by infinite choices.
Develop routines. Finally, one way you can minimize the decisions you have to make is by developing rituals and habits. For example, develop a routine of going to the gym every day at 8—and then, you no longer have to decide on each day’s workout time. Decide you’re doing to eat a salad for lunch every day, and then stop fussing over what to pack for your daily meal. Nobody likes to fall into a “rut,” but having certain rituals can really be helpful.