Recently a friend was telling me how she is so tired of making decisions. Her husband had offered to take her out for dinner (Full Life Score!!) and he said “where would you like to go” (fair question) but she felt overwhelm… couldn’t decide where she wanted to eat or what she wanted to eat, it was later in the day and she was just spent.
I’ve found myself feeling this way – we make so many decisions in a day; some studies say in the thousands…some multiples of that; what to wear, what to eat, decisions around home, all the ones you make at work – then there are purchases, emails requests…it just goes on and on. Choice is great, and most of us have lots of it but at some point, out brains get filled to capacity and even deciding where we want to go for dinner (which makes life easier!) can be hard.
So are some of us just pre-disposed to feel decision fatigue? Or is it more universal? And what can we do to minimize it or be a little more resilient to it?
A study out of Columbia University found that judges were more likely to give prisoners a favorable ruling in the beginning of the day and after a food break, than at the end of the day. Speaking to the rationale that fatigue (from lack of food or just a long day of decisions) has an impact on our decision-making.
That’s why it’s important to make your most important decisions in the morning rather than at the end of an exhausting day when your energy has been depleted. Or to make them when you aren’t hungry.
How can we not get so overwhelmed with all the decisions we are faced with in a day and how can we have a Full Life vs a Busy Life, in this regard.
Here are my top suggestions:
- Make some decisions the night before – the ones that are repeated daily decisions, these are willpower- drainers! (setting your clothes out, deciding what you’ll have for breakfast, making your lunch..even part of it) Its amazing how much smoother our mornings go when just a couple of these decisions are done. I like to make a couple of decisions in bed before I fall asleep; and its been double successful in that I get a few decisions off the plate AND I set some intentions for the day in the process; for example “am I wanting to get to the gym?” If yes, then I decide what I’ll wear for that – 1 less decision AND I am way more likely to get to the gym!
- Start your day with a little meditation or even some deep breathing (especially if you are inclined to have anxiety or easily overwhelmed) – This ensures that you start your day grounded even if you haven’t had the best sleep. 5-10 minutes, in bed, as soon as you wake – just sit up (so you don’t fall back to sleep) and with your eyes closed either follow your breath, in and out, counting them or perhaps repeat a mantra like “ Feeling….Great” on the inhale and exhale… or even The Full Life Reboot episode #17 – I did a guided 5 minute heart centered breathing practice. This would be a perfect way to start your day.
- Make big important decisions early in the day (or consciously put them off until the next day, think “sleep on it”). If you can’t hold off a decision, make sure you are hydrated and are not hungry. I often talk about the Full Body Yes – This is great decision-making tool; If you have a big decision to make and you are feeling fatigued; you can close your eyes for a minute, take some deep breaths and ask yourself, ”Is this a full-body yes, Am I all in on this, will this decision serve me in the best way?” If you aren’t – then it’s a no. But be sure to make those big decisions early in the day when you have the fullest tank.
- And lastly, consider when you are asking decisions of others. Just like you, others will deplete as the day goes on and you may not get the answer, support, the feedback you are hoping for. Considering others state before making non-time-sensitive requests has been an excellent tool for me and the relationships I have with people I love. And hay, if you need something from your boss…don’t wait until the end of the day to ask! Get him/her in the morning or at least after they have had lunch 😊
Hydration and Nutrition help us in many ways and keeping decision fatigue at bay is just one of them so perhaps a great place to start is being sure to fill your water bottle in the morning and making sure you have a snack in your bag that has protein in it might just be a no brainer (I know..that was supposed to be funny..but true!)
OK peeps…that’s it for this week, From my decision-filled home to yours…Wish you a beautiful day and ….A Full Life!