What is Decision Fatigue? Sharing My Experience & How I Combat It

As a classic over-thinker, I researched what exactly Decision Fatigue is and ways I can ease my mind. Here's what I've found so far + what's worked:
All About Decision Fatigue & How to Combat It. #wellness #selfcare #brainhealth #productivity #productivityhack #decisionfatigue

Typically, I am really good at making decisions, especially of the split second variety. I trust my instincts, but when I don’t, I always take the time to do my research, bounce ideas of friends and family, and take my time. But now with our wedding less than 60 days away… I have found myself in the deep dark hole of decision fatigue. As a classic over-thinker, I spent some time looking up what exactly it is and ways I can ease my mind. Here’s what I’ve found so far!

All About Decision Fatigue & How to Combat It

But first, what is it?

Simply put, decision fatigue is a syndrome identified by social psychologist Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, based on the Freudian hypothesis of ego depletion. It means that after making so many decisions (no matter the size), you become completely exhausted. For me, when I reach my breaking point with decision making, I literally just give up… which then leads to making poor choices.

I’m sure SO many of you can identify with me on this. Over the course of a normal day, I make way too many decisions to count, especially as a small business owner. Here’s some of what I contend with on a daily basis: whether to sign a contract, whether to work with a brand, which speakers to rent for the wedding, what to eat for lunch, how to respond to tricky DMs or comments, what to make for dinner, which photo I should post to social media, which blog post to work on for tomorrow… and on and on and on.

When I’m utterly inundated and exhausted, all of my self control flies out the window. Those are the nights when I eat cereal for dinner, standing up in the kitchen while crying about how stressed out I am. Basically, decision fatigue is a double whammy because it then leads you down a path of poor decision making, which then makes it even harder to make good decisions! What a vicious cycle.

So, how do you combat decision fatigue?

Working through my decision fatigue is something that I’ve been exploring more and more. Here are some suggestions that I’ve come across in my research and what has worked for me:

When overwhelmed, go with the simplest option.

Let’s say you don’t know where to start with your to do list. I suggest doing the easiest, most straightforward task possible. This could mean taking something to the post office, making lunch, or simply getting dressed for the day.

Figure out when you are most productive.

For me, this is the morning. I know that I am more productive and, therefore, more able to make important decisions. This means that after about 2 pm every day, I give myself tasks that don’t require too intense of choosing. For example, I’ll edit photos (after I have culled them earlier in the day) or clean the house.

Be real with yourself.

As an extreme overachiever and type A personality, I basically pile on all kinds of responsibility and tasks. But here’s the thing: that doesn’t always serve me. Sometimes I have to take a step back and check in and ask: am I being realistic with this priority? Maybe something can slide to be done next week or even tomorrow. By being honest with yourself about priorities, you might by surprised by what isn’t actually THAT urgent.

Embrace momentum… within reason.

This is one I struggle with in a BIG way. I have a habit of building up the momentum of getting stuff done, but then not eating. I’m working on it! But basically, what I suggest doing is start with something small and then build, and then take advantage of the momentum. Ride that wave of productivity while you have it.

Be kind to yourself.

It’s obvious that your brain has had enough when you get to the decision fatigue breaking point. Sometimes you just need to give yourself the grace to take some time off. I don’t do this often, but for me being kind to myself means laying in bed watching beauty YouTube. It’s sort of like recharging my batteries with my mindless guilty pleasure.

When all else fails, nap.

I’m not even kidding. I am a HUGE proponent of napping. It helps me to reset my brain and my day, plus I feel so productive afterwards. Definitely make sure you set an alarm and only lay down for 30-60 minutes max. Most people will say less than 30 minutes, but I love a long, luxurious nap.

What other tips have worked for you when it comes to combatting decision fatigue? I’d love to know!

Also, looking for more wellness and self-care posts? Check out these:
Photography by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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