Combat Decision Fatigue in Five Easy Steps

June 25, 2019 Uncategorized 0 Comments

combat decision fatigue in five easy steps

One of the biggest attentional challenges facing company owners and managers is decision fatigue.


For those unfamiliar, the concept of ‘decision fatigue’ refers to exactly what it sounds like: As we make decision after decision in the course of our day, our ability to make good decisions declines.  This is why a sensible breakfast of grapefruit and quinoa often turns into a dinner of chili dogs and beer, and why grocery stores make so much money off of the overpriced bottles of soda sold at the checkout line. (Seriously.  They have a whole aisle devoted to those same sodas, except that in that aisle, you get to buy a 6-pack for the same price as a single soda…)


No matter how hard we try, decision fatigue is always going be a thing: Our brains are no different than any other body part, and just as your arms are going to be tired after 20 reps of bicep curls, your brain is going to be tired after making 9,000 decisions by noon.

However, just because decision fatigue is inevitable doesn’t mean it can’t be managed.  The following are all ways of mitigating the effects that it has on your company’s bottom line:

1.Make important decisions when you’re well-rested.

Yes, you do need to prepare a bid for that $3M airport project, and yes, you do need to decide on a new dog groomer for Fido.  And yes, considering the fact that Fido can no longer see through his fur, and is now bumping into walls, it’s probably best that you get both of those things done today.

However, one of those decisions has far bigger potential consequences than the other.

Start the morning with preparing the airport bid.  Then, Google your dog grooming options after the more important things have been taken care of.

2.  See if you can cut down on some of the less-important decisions.

Again, I’m guessing that Fido’s grooming isn’t that important–as long it gets done, everyone will be happy.

If so, see if you can outsource the task.

Your daughter Suzie is out of school for the summer.  She was just begging for money to go to the movies with her friends.  Let her pick a groomer and schedule a time to take Fido in.  Worst case scenario, you’ll end up overpaying by $10.

The less time you have to devote to unimportant decisions, the more energy you have leftover for making the decisions that matter.

3.  For the unimportant decisions that can’t be outsourced, go with the simplest option and move on.

Okay, fine, you couldn’t find anybody to go to the grocery store for you, so this means it’s up to you to pick up salad dressing.

Unless you’re just dying for a change, take the path of least resistance.  Buy the same ranch dressing you always do, and get on with your life. Maybe it is $.10 more.  Maybe it does have three more calories per serving than the competitor.  But you know what?  Life will go on.

4.  Plan daily decisions the night before.

Set out your shirt and pants for the next day before you go to bed.

Have that healthy lunch salad sitting in a Tupperware container, ready to go for the next morning.

That way, the first hour of your morning won’t be eaten up with 1,000 small decisions.

5.  Don’t make important decisions when you’re hungry or distracted.

I know this sounds obvious, but those Snickers commercials were right: You’re not you when you’re hungry.

You’re also not you when Fido is barking, Suzie is whining about what Katie said at lunch, that Snickers commercial is blaring, and you have 300 pointless email notifications popping up, informing you of such pressing matters as ‘I think the printer is sort of low on ink’, ‘Could you check with Mrs. Johnson about church tonight?’ and ‘INCREASE YOUR MANHOOD TODAY WITH XXXXXXTREME MALE’.

If you’re needing to prepare your bid for that $3M airport job, make sure you aren’t hangry.  Then shut your office door, silence your phone, and close out the email notifications. XXXXXXXXXTREME MALE can wait.

It might even gain another ‘X’ by the time you’re finished!

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About the Author

Tipper Coker

Tipper Coker

Lawyer. Vice president of business development. Hopeless nerd who's read far too many AIA contracts.

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