What to do when Decision Fatigue sets in.
I read somewhere that the average person makes 35,000 decisions per day. This seems a very unlikely number so it must include some very small ones like which foot to put forward first. Whatever the actual number, modern life provides us with so many choices/options/alternatives that we are sometimes overwhelmed by them. This leads to the state of decision fatigue or analysis paralysis. Overcoming Decision Fatigue then becomes a skill that modern man needs to develop in order to survive in the 21st century.
Every day you are bombarded by hundreds of alternatives coming at you from every direction. Should you take the elevator or escalator? Is coconut oil healthier or olive oil? Which brand of detergent is better?
Bigger decisions require you to weigh pros and cons. Is it better to stay with your company or become an entrepreneur? Will moving to a new country be a good thing for your family? Should you invest in the stock your neighbor is recommending?
On and on it goes. You keep trying to field options and alternatives as they come at you. Sometimes you feel lucky to have so many choices but at other times you feel that you are going crazy. You can become so overwhelmed by this pressure to choose between various things that you can go into a state of complete mental shutdown or analysis paralysis.
You might have experienced this feeling of panic or overwhelm that sometimes comes from the pressure of too many choices. Although such a situation is best avoided by consciously limiting options so that you have minimum Decision Fatigue but sometimes this is unavoidable. It is good to have some countermeasures or remedial techniques at hand for overcoming Decision fatigue:
- Take Five
When overwhelmed by decision making, it is best to take a break from the situation if possible. Say, you are making travel plans. There are so many choices to make: where to go, how to travel, which hotel to choose? There is so much work involved in the decision making that it sometimes becomes a burden rather than a pleasure to plan a vacation.
When things reach this point, this is the time to take five.
Just put away the brochures and itineraries and do something different. Taking a short break from the task at hand might be the stimulus you need to get going again.
- Hang Ten
If you have a high pressure job, constant decision making can take its toll not just on your anxiety level but also on your health. High blood pressure, heart disease or stomach ulcers can all result from the stress of constant decision making.When this “pressure cooker situation” develops, you can save your sanity and your health by taking a little time off.
Come on, put your feet up, read a book, watch your favourite show, light a few candles, put on some music—whatever it takes to wind down. Taking the time to relax recharges your mental batteries and rekindles your analytic skills.
- Keep Snacking
Low blood sugar can accelerate the onset of Decision Fatigue. This explains why we make wrong choices when hungry. When the state of overwhelm or ego depletion comes upon you next time, try combatting it with a healthy snack. A handful of nuts, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit: none of these will sabotage your diet but can work wonders in overcoming Decision Fatigue.
This is one of the situations where eating is actually good for you (just don’t snack so much that you go into a food coma). A drop in blood sugar can cause a drop in performance.
- Get Moving
When faced with so many options that you feel you are being sucked into a vortex of choice, get moving. Go for a short walk, or a work out at the gym.
If you can’t leave your office or any other stressful situation, try walking up and down a corridor, or stand up and do a few stretches. It’s amazing how stretching your limbs drives away feelings of panic and overwhelm.
Exercise releases endorphins (feel good chemicals) in our body. These combat depression, anxiety and stress.
- Sleep on it
If a major decision like a career move or a risky venture is sapping your energy, just shelve it for the moment. Get a good night’s rest and review the situation when you wake up. It is true: things do look brighter in the morning.
Replenishing energy and recharging your mental batteries rejuvenates your powers of decision. This allows you to make better choices for yourself at home and at work.
What are your favourite strategies for overcoming Decision Fatigue? I would love to know.
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