Decision Fatigue

What, Why & How

One of the hidden benefits of minimalism and hygge is a reduction in decision fatigue.  Yes that is a real thing, and yes it happens to you. In fact, it happens to just about everyone, every single day, from the most influential people in the world to a small child wandering between toy store shelves.

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The key, which the most successful and powerful people in the world have found, is to recognize it, acknowledge it and combat it.  From the moment that you wake up in the morning, decisions are being made, snooze button or get up? Shower? Green shirt or blue? Breakfast? Coffee?  Research shows that we make upwards of 35,000 decisions every single day, some of them are significant, but most are trivial. When the time comes to make an important decision you need to be at your best.  In order to be at your best, you need to gauge your decision fatigue. In order to gauge your decision fatigue you first need to know what causes it.

Causes

The primary cause of decision fatigue is – get this – decisions.  Who could have imagined that? 35 thousand decisions a day. You do 35 thousand anything a day beside breathing or blinking and you will be exhausted.

Other causes include:

Low glucose levels – A poor diet affects every facet of your life.  Glucose levels play a large role in decision making and self-control.  Low glucose will reduce your patience and cause you to make more intuitive rather than deliberate decisions.

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Income level – This may sound odd, but studies have shown that income level and decision fatigue are closely aligned.  Having a smaller income increases the significance of smaller decisions. Often decisions about the purchase of food and everyday items will be weighed more heavily due to the money trade-off that is associated with it.

Children – Children = Questions, lots and lots of questions.

Time of day – This may go without saying, but I will say it anyway.  First thing in the morning and right after lunch is when we are at our best and our decisions are at their most trustworthy.  Adversely, when you get hungry before lunch and the late afternoon into the evening should not be prime decision time if you want to be of sound mind.

Effects

When all of these factors combine you open yourself up to some regrettable purchases and bad habits.  As well as putting yourself in a position to fall victim to marketing ploys.  

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Most notably, supermarkets capitalize on decision fatigue.  Candy and snacks are placed in the checkout aisle because after wandering up and down the aisles you have made hundreds of decisions already and are more susceptible to a bite size snack purchase.  Cookies and candy are placed at children’s eye level because a tired parent is more likely to fold to a child’s wants in order to placate them quickly and easily.  

Research has found that consumer emails sent out between 8 and 10 p.m. is more likely to create revenue because marketers have associated decision fatigue with impulse buys. 

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Fast food restaurants placed along your daily commute are counting on your avoidance of making yet another decision.  It is much easier to pull into a drive thru, than it would be to decide what to cook and take the time to cook it.

The path of least resistance is the go to for someone who has surpassed his decision stamina.  Sticking with the status quo as well, feels like the easy choice when faced with a hard decision at the end of a day.

Remedies

You know what it is, you know why it happens and you feel the side effects in your wallet and belly.  What are you going to do about it?

It all starts in the morning, the less decisions you have to make before your day truly begins the better.

Routines – Establish a routine wherever you can.  If you have a set routine every morning, options and decisions become obsolete.

Wardrobe Hygge-lism – See my article on a minimal, hygge wardrobe to eliminate the choice of what you will wear on any given day by clicking this link.

Meal Plans – A meal plan will reduce so many decisions, save you so much time and so much money that you will never go without one again.  You will never have to decide on what meal to cook after a long day. What you need to purchase at the grocery store will be precise. Impulse buys in the grocery market will cease to exist.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Adding a disproportionate level of importance on a small decision will wear you down quickly.  

Diet/Snacks – A good diet and healthy snacks will balance your glucose levels and allow you to stay on top of your game longer.

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Schedule – If you have a meeting heavy career, only schedule them for mornings and directly after lunch, avoid late afternoon and end of the week meetings as often as you can.

Unplug – As the afternoon progresses to evening, unplug from technology.  Put your phone away, close out your email and drop off social media. Not only will this allow your mind to relax, it will allow for more quality time with the family and the absence of blue light will start to prepare you for a good night’s rest.

Minimalism – The minimalism lifestyle is simple and easy.  You only have what you need, like and use.

What ways do you recognize and combat decision fatigue?  How has it changed your daily life?

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3 Comments

  1. ourcrossings

    Great post and great tips! I also believe that by consciously starting to practice thinking that you are going to find the good in life’s craziness and unpredictability no matter what, you free yourself from the pressure of needing to make a right decision. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

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