Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Decision Fatigue, Part 1

signs point to yes
A magic 8 ball
Decision fatigue.

We've all felt it, but likely have not realized that it is a real thing. Decision fatigue is when your mind (and I think also emotions) get tired from making decisions.  What decisions? All those decisions that we make each day:
  • What time to get up?
  • What to wear?
  • Which emails to answer?
  • How to do ____, which clearly needs to get done?
  • What advice to give _____?
  • Whether to go to the copier first or go to the bathroom first?
  • Where to go for lunch?
  • Whether to talk to _____ or ignore him?
  • Turn left, turn right or go straight?
We make fun of people who eat the same thing for lunch every day or who only wear black, but they are eliminating decisions and helping their brains have more energy for other - and let's hope more important - decisions.

Yes, this about all of those projects that we're doing!

I've been working on a huge project, as well as being an academic program director, a professor, and a person with a life outside of work. I have found myself weary not because of the the work itself, but because of all of the decisions that the work includes. For example, my project includes a 200+ page document, which I'm editing. Every edit...every edit...is a decision. Yesterday that was easily over 100 decisions. Sadly, the chemicals in your brain are used the same for small decisions (put a comma there?) as well as large ones (what needs to go into the talking points?). And those chemicals need to be refreshed.

If you're like me and feeling fatigued from all of the decisions you're making, I want you to do three things and then be sure to read parts 2-4 of this series, which will be published later this week. The three things are:
  1. Acknowledge that the day is full of a multitude of decisions (as well as information to remember) and promise to learn how to lessen their impact.
  2. Update your to-do list with everything that you need to be doing. I co-mingle home, personal and work items on one to-do, but you might want to create separate to-do lists.  (Okay...yes, something there is a very home-orientated to-do list on the refrigerator!) As new to-do's appear, add them to your list. And...yes...get ALL of those project to-do's on the list!
  3. Find places where you can stop making decisions. Can you begin to create routines that eliminate decisions? No, you don't have to eliminate every decision, but you might be able to eliminate a few.

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1 comment:

Heather said...

I will follow these three steps and eagerly await the next posts in this series. I haven't experienced much decision fatigue yet in classes, but it's definitely a challenge as I try to achieve school-work-life balance.