Combating Decision Fatigue

leadership mindset and goals neuroscience personal development Sep 05, 2021

Decisions, decisions, decisions……it seems like our brains are bombarded with decisions! 

According to an article in Psychology Today, the average person makes around 35,000 decisions a day, unless you are a Working Mom, then I would double that! (the second half is Doreen guessology :).  

Heck, a study by Cornell University revealed that we make 226.7 daily decisions about food alone! (Unhackable, Oberbrunner). This doesn’t even take into account the constant questions of kids and your parenting responsibilities!

Does anyone else feel stressed out as you see how much your brain is juggling?  

Can I say, you are not alone!  

The truth is, the more decisions you have to make, the more fatigued your brain becomes! Our brain only has a certain amount of energy each day, and when we have used it all up, our decisions get worse and we make mistakes. We make poor decisions because our reserve of energy has been expended.  With mistakes, comes stress, and stress amplifies poor decision making. The effects of this chronic draining cycle are fatigue and brain fog!  

When the stress of poor decision-making becomes too much, our brains shift into threat mode! When in threat mode, our bodies work hard to conserve energy, and shift all the oxygen away from the area of our brain that handles all the executive thought processing.  Translation:  You get reactive:  fight, flight, freeze or faint.  

Practically, fatigued brains will take the path of least resistance.  You will snap at your loved ones, you will become impatient with your colleagues, you will withdraw and lose your confidence, you will not be an effective leader or an influential mom. We get to choose the input that we allow to enter our minds.  We get to choose what we give our energy to on a daily basis!

What can we do to combat decision fatigue on a daily basis?

  1. Automate. Automating as much as possible in your life.  Automating might mean simplifying yours and your kids’ wardrobes, like preplanning what you wear each day.  If you are really ambitious, you can create a schedule of your 5 favorite outfits at the beginning of the week. Another automating feature is meal prep for the whole week!  Not only does it save brain space, but you eat healthier and it makes dinnertime go smoother.  Several moms I know do salad in a jar, food prep parties (30 minutes), so that they can have a variety of options.
  2. Close the Tabs.  Daily we get to choose what gets our attention.  Just like our computer runs slower when we have too many tabs open, our brains use energy when we have too many tabs open. (Unhackable, Oberbrunner).  I like to do a brain dump every morning.  When I say brain dump, I mean get all the thoughts and the goals that are running around in your brain on a piece of paper.  Once they are on the paper, they are safe there.  Our brains use energy trying not to forget things also!  Yup!  Once they are on paper, I like to sort them into categories.   Kary Oberbrunner says when we sort them into categories such as Do it, Delegate it, and Dump it, we are making decisions and closing the tabs.  Closed tabs in our brain equals more energy for us throughout the day to do what’s in front of us, and then energy to spare when we get home to our families.
  3. Remove distractions.  We’ve already talked about how multitasking (switch tasking) affects our productivity and our thinking. (refer to Becoming an Unhackable Mom article). I love putting my phone on airplane mode and really focus on the project in front of me.  It’s amazing how much you can accomplish without the distractions.

 

What is your biggest contributing factor for decision fatigue? 

What small step would you like to try this week to combat decision fatigue?