As I mentioned in this post, I’m not very decisive. While I’m great at split-second decision making (think: barking orders during emergency situations or finding the best course of action when work events go awry), life’s more mundane questions, like what to eat for lunch or wear to a friend’s wedding, can leave me perplexed.
While I may consider myself an extreme case, I have a feeling I’m not alone. You may notice a few signs of decision fatigue in your own life as well. Perhaps you come home from a long day of work feeling completely exhausted. You can’t quite decide what to do so you sit on the couch watching TV instead of going to the gym. You have no idea what you want for dinner so you go get takeout instead of cooking. That’s decision fatigue! Whether sick of choosing or just overcome with options, your brain defaults to the easiest decision possible.
Over the years, I’ve figured out a few ways to cope with decision fatigue. I have found that organizing my life in a way that eliminates decisions is tantamount to increasing my productivity. You may find you’re the same…
When it comes to deciding what to eat, I’ve found that making these decisions “in bulk” is the best way to not succumb to restaurants in the 5 o’clock but no idea what to eat for dinner madness. Set aside time to make a meal plan each week. If you’re feeling extra on top of things then do a bit of meal prepping, too. You could go all out and package up 21 meals into neatly organized tupperwares or simply take a bit of time to get ahead. Wash and chop up produce. Cook a grain. Boil some eggs.
Check out this post to learn more about sticking to a certain theme for dinner each night of the week. This way, even when you slip, and find yourself with out a plan or anything prepped, you’ll at least know “It’s Thursday so we’re having stir-fry.” (Or whatever you selected.) Another approach you could try if that feels a bit too limiting is the 14-day dinner menu.
Another decision I must make on the daily (sometimes multiple times a day…UGH!) is what to wear. Ever notice how super successful folk tend to wear the same things all the time? They might be on to something! While I don’t plan on rocking jeans and a black turtleneck every day a la Steve Jobs, developing a capsule wardrobe is a great way to limit the scope of my options. Do a little closet experimentation and see if you can come up with a capsule that suits your lifestyle.
Another possibility is to organize your clothes based on when you would wear them. Dedicate a drawer to workout wear, a section of your closet to office apparel, another for running errands and weekends at home, and a dedicated place for more formal attire. Identify what you’ll be doing and then head to the corresponding area to grab your outfit.
If buying and trying lots of clothes and keeping up with fashion trends is something that’s important to you, consider coming up with some outfit equations or cheat sheets that may work to speed up your getting dressed process. Then you can put together different combos like skirt + cardigan + tights + boots + boho earrings + scarf lickety-split!
Conversely, if choosing which items of clothing to add to your wardrobe is contributing to your decision fatigue, consider looking into services like Stitch Fix. I LOVE Stitch Fix because I don’t have to stand in a store and ruffle through racks trying to decide what to buy! They simply send me 5 items of clothing they think I’ll love, based on my style surveys and Pinterest boards, and then I either keep them or I don’t. I’ve also eased my clothes decisions by choosing to focus on building this 50 piece capsule wardrobe.
If you suffer from decision fatigue I HIGHLY recommend you start keeping some sort of a notebook or planner system. Spend some time with this little guy every night before you go to bed. Write down all the things you’d like to accomplish the next day. Before I found a notebook system that worked for me I would start each day with my mind SO FULL of all the things that needed to get done. I would repeat them over and over and re-order them in terms of importance and then repeat them again. Basically, struggling to decide when to do what. Take it from me, just write it down. I can still work out the order the next day, and migrate things that don’t get done, but having that rough sketch the night before saves me so much brain space.
This one may seem pretty obvious but I think it’s worth mentioning. Set up direct deposit so you don’t have to decide a good time to take your paycheck to the bank. Work out an amount you feel comfortable allocating for savings and schedule automated transfers from your checking account to a savings account. This way you won’t have to decide (as often) when and how much to set aside. Switch things like utilities, internet, and cell phone bills over to autopay so you don’t have to decide when to pay what bill and whether to mail a check or pay online. Easy peasy!
Instead of saying, “I’d like to explore my city more” or “I need to exercise” or “I want to spend time with my friends” and having to DECIDE when in your busy life you’re going to do these things…make COMMITMENTS. Set your priorities and then schedule your priorities. Learning to do this was a HUGE first step for me in investing in myself. Set up a recurring movie night each week with your friends. Declare #adventuresaturday and explore something new with your sweetheart (See picture above!). Set Monday, Wednesday, Friday as your workout days. Invest in your hobbies for an hour each day after dinner. Wanna grow your side hustle? Head to a coffee shop every Sunday, put your phone on airplane mode, and dig in.
Keep up a routine for long enough and it will soon develop into a habit. And you know what that means? It no longer took any thought. No decisions, no fatigue, no brain space.
Just life lived.
Do you suffer from decision fatigue? Have you made any lifestyle changes to limit the amount of decisions you have to make? I want to hear about them!
14 thoughts on “How to Eliminate Decision Fatigue and Get More Done”
I just dig all your advice so much! This is a good one. Totally going to share it around to friends. Decision fatigue is a big ol’ problem for me in graduate school. This has inspired me to get back to my bullet journal.
So happy it resonates with you. 🙂 I love bullet journaling! I don’t do all the components but it’s definitely a great framework for finding a system that works.
I need to put this into practice when it comes to food! We usually sit around thinking until it gets late and end up having to go through a drive-thru or ordering take out somewhere terrible for you. Funny enough, for my creative endeavors I do have a “system”. I have project ideas written on pieces of paper in a mug. When I want to do something but don’t know what, I simply pull out a slip of paper! Its silly, but makes it fun.
That is SUCH a good idea, Sabrina! Totally going to borrow this approach in 2018. 🙂