(psst: enable images to see this pic!)
It’s the new year, which means resolutions, goals, and introspection galore. If you’re anything like me, you’re loading up on the feeling of a fresh start but also cautious about burning out quickly. I’ve been reading Do Less: A Minimalist Guide to a Simplified, Organized, and Happy Life the last few days and it's actually pretty great—and very practical, unlike many minimalist manifestos I've seen. I came across a passage that spoke particularly loudly to me, which described the idea of decision fatigue. I think it's something most of us can relate to both within and outside of our jobs.
Too many decisions = bad choices
The more decisions we have to make in a period of time, the more difficult it becomes to process them. We have a finite supply of energy, willpower, and brainpower to devote to decisions. Studies have shown that continuous decision-making increases psychological load and leads to difficulties in processing factors that go into decisions, and thus less well thought out decisions are made. That might mean you're more apt to make a bad project choice later in the workday, or you stop following your diet because you can't decide what to make and ordering a pizza is easier.
Avoid overwhelm by eliminating and planning
Luckily, there are lots of ways to overcome decision fatigue temporarily, or avoid it all together. Since our willpower works similarly to a muscle, taking a break, eating, or resting can help us start fresh with our choices. Doing things like planning meals, outfits, and priorities the night before, eating nutritious snacks, and doing our most important tasks first thing in the day can all help combat decision fatigue on a daily basis.
And if you're not able to walk away for a bit, this article
has some great tips about actually dealing with decision paralysis in the moment.