Decision Fatigue. Yep, it’s a thing.

Difficult choices of a businessman due to crisis

Wifey: “What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “I don’t know, whatever you want.”

or

Me: “What do you want to watch?”
Wifey: “Whatever. You decide.”

The above are fairly common occurrences in our household, and I would imagine in many others. There’s been plenty of instances where we’d frustrate each other because neither of us could make a decision for such seemingly simple decisions. So why is it that I can’t just make a decision around what I want to eat or watch at any given time?

Because by the time I get home from work, I don’t want to make any more damn decisions. I’m decisioned out. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned that decision fatigue was actually a “thing”. Decision fatigue is officially described as:

In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.

Just think for a second how many choices are available to you in this day and age when it comes to anything in life. Food, medicine, technology, it’s massive. We’re forced to make a tremendous amount of decisions in quantity and quality every day. It takes it’s toll.

In my case (and many others), decision fatigue can actually lead to decision avoidance. All day at work I make decision after decision, and by the time I get home, I just want to turn my brain off when it comes to having to make any sort of decision no matter how simple it may be. Not only that, but the quality of the decisions made can deteriorate over the course of a day. Case in point is this crazy study about how prisoners who were scheduled earlier had a higher percentage chance of early release.

It all can seem easy to just write off as bullshit, but I actually think there is a lot of truth to how this all works out. Once I learned about psychology and research behind how decision making effects our lives, I immediately began to think of what I could do to better handle it all. Everyone will tell you rest, eat well, exercise, etc. All the things we should be doing anyway. I’ve taken it a step further at work be better delegating decision making. You have to trust your team, and the people you work with and extend decision making power as much as you can. I’ve found by doing so, it lessons the amount of decisions I have to make in any given day and increases the quality of decisions I make.

Below is a great TED talk called The Paradox of Choice that dives a bit deeper into all of this in an interesting way and is worth the watch.

 

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