As we near the end of the year you may be feeling the weight of another year of decision making and mental load. To top it off we are in the year of 2020, the year none of us saw coming that has put us in a position of making difficult decision after difficult decision and crossing our fingers that the choices we’ve made are not only the right ones but that they won’t be overturned by forces outside of our control.
Decision making is a part of our everyday lives, especially as adults and decision fatigue is very much a reality. It occurs when your willpower or ability to make good choices deteriorates after an extended period of decision making.
We’ve heard the theories of why people choose to wear the same clothes every day, eat the same lunch or stick to a specific daily routine. One less small decision throughout the day can mean you have enough in the tank to make positive choices even at the very end of the day.
If you’ve read any of our previous blogs you’ll know we are all about routine, and those routines enable us to streamline our days to reduce the mind-numbing avalanche of mental load that comes with multiple small decisions.
When it comes to making decisions there are a few techniques I have learnt along the way that I use often to keep things as simple as possible.
The Eisenhower Matrix
I love a good to-do list and use ASANA as a project management tool to track all of the categories of things I’m working on and the tasks involved. The Eisenhower Maxtrix is the methodology I use to decide what makes it on the list and when tasks are scheduled to be actioned. It also helps me identify what needs to be delegated and of course what needs to be deleted if a task has somehow made it onto the list but no longer meets the requirements of importance.
Never choose 7
Years ago I heard a theory, originally used in recruitment to select suitable candidates for a position. If you had a shortlist and had to make a decision on a specific candidate you would rate them 1 to 10, but you would not be allowed to use the number 7. 7 is that number we use in ratings when we are undecided and potentially being over-generous with our score. If it’s a 6 or under it’s a no if it’s an 8 plus it’s a yes. Keep it simple, and use this as a quick decision-making tool to get you through those indecisive moments.
See your time as an asset
You know that feeling when you realise you have an event or meeting you committed to tomorrow but you don’t want to go anymore or don’t have time to attend. That happens often for all of us. The key is keeping that in mind when committing to events. When you are invited to something, ask yourself if you would move things in your schedule to attend if the event was tomorrow. If the answer is no, you are likely to be just as busy when the event date arrives and may find yourself frustrated that you committed to it in the first place.
Your time is an asset, don’t waste it doing things you don’t need or want to do.
Do the hard stuff first
Thinking of a traditional day where you wake up in the morning, start your day at work or school and have a plan for what you have to do. My suggestion to make the day as fun as possible and to reduce decision fatigue by the end of the day, do the hard stuff and make the hard decisions as early in the day as possible.
It will give you a feeling of accomplishment early in the day which will push you through and give you momentum as the day goes on to keep making positive choices.
Listen to your body
Are you hungry, or in my case hangry (hungry which makes you angry)?
Are you tired?
Do you need a big glass of water, or maybe a coffee?
Do you need some fresh air or to step away from your screen?
Listening to your body and identifying what may be adding to your indecisiveness and fatigue is a big part of reducing decision fatigue. It may not be the right time to make the decision, and though I won’t ever encourage you to procrastinate it’s always best to listen to your body and work out if you need something before you can make the right decision.
Best of luck as we soldier on and enter the last few weeks of 2020. Remember you’ve got this! And you are capable enough to make the right decisions to serve you into the new year, just don’t make them while you’re hangry 😉