Do you feel continuously stressed, controlled, and drained of mental energy throughout your day? Has your day become a vicious cycle of tasks that never get done, new tasks piling up, and just no time to get everything done? It’s pretty likely that you’re suffering from decision fatigue.
You see, the problem isn’t that you need more detailed to-do lists or schedule your day better, or even delegate tasks.
When you get to the core of what is really going on, the problem is typically the inability to make quick, effective decisions that get things done!
Decision fatigue is your number one enemy and the number one productivity-killer.
If you are a victim of decision fatigue, then these 5 simple but powerful tips will quickly put you back in control of your day — and your sanity!
1. Practice binary decision-making
Binary decision-making means thinking in black and white. This method is the best way to eliminate stressful indecision and dramatically speeds up decision-making.
Once you have all the options in front of you, simply classify them under two headings: “important” or “not important.”
Of course, not all options can be totally seen as important or not… but forcing yourself to even just asking yourself this question will help you avoid that gray area of indecision that can keep you scratching your head for ages.
You can then take the “important” options even further and turn them into “very” and “not really” until you finally have two or three to make your final choice from. How time-saving is that?
Note: The key here is that binary decision making needs to be done quickly. When describing your options, take only a few seconds to decide whether each is important or not. Thinking and pondering for ages really defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
However, once you have two or three final options in front of you, you can take a bit more time to weigh each one’s end result.
2. Limit the number of daily decisions
Naturally, this is easier said than done, right? Actually, it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. It can also help cut down decision overload significantly.
The secret is to decide on a number of tasks that you will commit to per day and eliminate the unnecessary ones so that you aren’t bombarded all day long.
For example, let’s take food. Research tells us that we make about 226 decisions every day about food. What to cook, what to order, where to eat for dinner, what to buy at the grocery store… it sounds like small decisions, but it is these kinds of mundane decisions that clog our brain and cause decision fatigue.
You can eliminate this kind of decision overload by making a weekly or monthly meal plan, coordinating food shopping lists with this meal plan, scheduling one or two days for ordering out, and so on.
You can apply this same strategy to other areas in your life, such as your wardrobe, morning routine, and shopping habits.
Next, decide how many decisions you will want to deal with every day, say, 10. That way, you can tackle the important decision that requires real thought and effort and quickly and efficiently get them out of the way.
Mark Twain said it best, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
3. Don’t multi-task
New studies show that multitasking is actually harmful to productivity. Dividing your attention between several tasks and priding yourself on being a super-charged multitasker can drastically affect your decision-making — for the worse.
Think about it; what kind of decisions will you make when your mind is distracted by a dozen other things? Instead, set aside time for decision-making and nothing else. Focus your full attention on what needs to be done.
Don’t check email, don’t work on spreadsheets, and turn off your phone.
Without distractions, it will be easier to assess outcomes and quickly make an efficient decision. This is actually a future time-saving strategy as well, as it eliminates the stress of fixing or remaking decisions that were not made right the first time.
4. Get difficult/dreaded decisions out of the way first
Difficult decisions are not going to go away so, the sooner you make them, the better. Tackle important or “dreaded” decisions first thing in the morning when your mind is at its most alert and focused.
Once you have gotten them out of the way, you can be sure that you will have a much smoother, hassle-free day, otherwise, the weight of those decisions will keep nagging at the back of your mind and will become extremely stressful if delayed.
I guess Mark Twain’s quote suits great here, too, don’t you think?
5. Price your decisions
Putting a price-tag on your decisions is the best way to get your priorities clear.
For example, the decision to buy a new car can be worth $50, whereas the decision to quit your job and go into business on your own can be worth $10,000 to you.
Putting a price on your decision regarding how much it is worth or its impact is the best sign of which decisions you should tackle first and how much time you should spend on it.
Fix a price range of $1 to $10,000 to evaluate your priorities. A decision ranging between $1 — $10 is pretty normal in terms of impact and should be taken in minutes or even less. A $10,000- decision is life-changing. Therefore, it might need more time and thought.
6. Create a Non-To-Do List
Instead of creating a long list of things that will make you feel like you’re a super-achiever but instead will only end up overwhelming you, and where you will keep adding on things that will never be handled, create a non-to-do list for yourself. This list will include 3–5 things that are usually distracting you and robbing you of valuable time.
Things like social media, never-ending Netflix binges, hour-long phone calls about nothing, and so on.
Your new non-to-do list will keep you on track and will give you back the valuable time we are all guilty of flushing down the drain.
Decision fatigue is a common problem in the lives of most people today. It’s a part of our fast-paced, digital world.
And yet, most people will try to remedy this by scheduling, structuring, multitasking, and various other methods that just don’t work.
So, get smart and beat decision fatigue for good the right way by adopting these 6 powerful tips into your day from now on.
I hope these tips will help you to have a more stress-free and balanced life. Let me know what you think and which of the 6 tips you’d try out first.