We have to make decisions around 70 times a day – from what we’re going to wear, to accepting a new job. But there are helpful lessons from successful people on how to avoid decision ‘fatigue’.
Your days are filled with a constant stream of decisions. A study from Columbia University found that we’re bogged down by a good 70 decisions a day. Some decisions are minor, like what to eat, which route to drive to work, or in what order to tackle tasks. Others are more difficult, like deciding between two job offers, whether to move to a new city for someone you love, or whether to cut a toxic person out of your life. With so many decisions taking up each day, learning to prioritize them and make them effectively is essential to your success and happiness. While I’m familiar with many strategies successful people use for effective decision-making, what follows are the cream of the crop.
They turn small decisions into routines …
Decision-making works like a muscle: as you use it over the course of the day, it gets too exhausted to function effectively. One of the best strategies successful people use to work around their decision fatigue is to eliminate smaller decisions by turning them into routines. Doing so frees up mental resources for more complex decisions.
… and make big decisions in the morning
Another great way to beat decision fatigue is to save small decisions for after work (when decision fatigue is greatest) and to tackle complex decisions in the morning, when your mind is fresh. When you’re facing a stream of important decisions, a great trick is to wake up early and work on your most complicated tasks before you get hit with a bunch of distracting minor decisions (phones ringing, e-mails coming in).
They pay attention to their emotions
There’s an old saying: “Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions,” and it definitely rings true. Successful people recognize and understand their emotions (including their intensity and impact on behavior) so that they are able to look at decisions as objectively and rationally as possible
They evaluate their options objectively
When really wrapped up in a decision, successful people weigh their options against a pre-determined set of criteria because they know that this makes decision-making easier and more effective.
They sleep on it …
Sleeping on your decision ensures that you have clarity of thought when you approach it the next day. It also allows time for your emotions to run their course. When you act too quickly, you tend to react, but when you give more focus and time to your decision, you expose important facets of it that you didn’t see before.
… but not for too long
Successful people know the importance of gathering as much information as they can, but at the same time, they make certain not to fall prey to analysis paralysis. Instead of waiting for the moons to align, successful people know that they need to have a timetable to follow in reaching their decision. Once they set that date, they are motivated to do their homework and some soul searching in order to meet the deadline.