Decisions fatigue is very real and effects millions of people across the nation. Decision fatigue is basically a psychological term for the side effect of making too many decisions. Our brains are not machines and even if they were machines, the same would happen. Machines use RAM (Random Access Memory) to handle tasks. Ironically, if you continue to open up programs on the machine, you’ll start to see “memory fatigue” in the computer’s performance. The computer will slow down and handle tasks inefficiently.
Humans are the same. Our brains still use energy for making decisions. We actually burn calories the harder we think. Think about smaller tasks that you can do without thinking about them much. Task like clipping your nails or drying your hair. You can easily talk on the phone or watch TV doing those, but what about tasks like driving through city traffic?
Some tasks require us to use more decision making power than other tasks, just like light or heavy computer programs affect a computer. If we spend time making decisions over a long period of time during a single session, eventually we will develop “decisions fatigue”. This will cause us to being making less and less effective decisions as time passes.
Multi-Tasking & Decisions Fatigue
Multi-tasking is public enemy number one. It’s really simple. Your computer can handle running one program better than it can running two programs. Same with our brains. If you find yourself multitasking, it’s usually because of poor time management. Just like a computer using a lot more RAM to run multiple programs, our brain uses a ton more energy processing more than one task at a time.
Along with multitasking, just doing too much in one day can wear you out. Not even physical labor. Making a lot of phone calls, managing an office or even making appointments can be tiring. People usually feel it, but think something is wrong because “I sat around all day, I shouldn’t be tired!”. Unfortunately, they don’t realize how much actual energy is involved in decisions making. Just like computer programs and phone apps however, not all decisions use the same amount of energy (RAM).
How to prevent Decisions Fatigue
The best way to avoid decision is by planning your day out the night before or the morning of. Even taking out your clothing the night before and picking out breakfast will greatly improve the quality of your day.
It’s the small, background decisions that take the biggest toll because they accumulate without us realizing. Like background programs or apps that run on computers and phones. They use a lot of resources so when we actually want to use the bigger apps, we can’t run them optimally. Same with our brains and making bigger decisions later. If we don’t automate or at least make the smaller decisions a non-issue, then we will have a harder time making effective decisions later on in the day.
Tend to the smaller decisions earlier in your day. Preemptively plan to relieve yourself of the stress and energy of making too many on the fly decisions in one day. Your body and brain will thank you for it!