Yes, it’s a thing! When I heard this, I was like “Wait, what?”. You mean it isn’t just me? Then I went to my google machine…
As it turns out it is a very real phenomenon causing people to become mentally taxed and tired. According to the NY Times article on the subject, the more decisions you make throughout the day the less quality decision maker you are because of the mental fatigue you experience from it. The article goes on to say:
“…your brain eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain. You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move.”
We all LOVE options, right. Having choices is great! With technology and the internet, we now have more choices than ever! For example, ordering out used to be a decision between Pizza or Chinese when I was growing up. Now you can get just about anything using Door dash or Uber Eats. The choices can contribute to overwhelm and stress!
As a new studio owner and serial entrepreneur, I make most of my decisions riding solo - this has been the #1 energy vampire of my adult life. Don’t get me wrong being your own boss is great, but keeping yourself disciplined and motivated is hard! It involves many small but important decisions about how you will spend your time, which tasks are should be done when, and how you want to run your business. I was overwhelmed and underprepared.
More often than not, I would find myself thinking about a decision I needed to make (like all day) but not actually deciding; the mind goes off on tangents and I am easily pulled into other directions. I was overwhelmed.
Add to that, I am a master power napper. Making decisions had become so cumbersome and exhausting I found myself so drained that the common answer became to take a nap. I would tell myself that if I can sleep on it than I will figure out what to do when I am fresh. WRONG.
Change needed to happen. For my own sanity and for the sake of those around me. No one wants to hear how tired you are…like all the time. Seriously. I got sick of hearing it in my own head.
For work, I asked for help with time management from a seasoned coach. It forced me to finally sit down and make a list of all of my tasks. Then put them into quadrants – Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, Not Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Not Important. At first, they were all urgent! It occurred to me that is another reason I was always exhausted; my perception that everything was urgent made making decisions about what to do next almost impossible. From there coming up with a weekly schedule and batching like tasks together so I am organized and focused. It all seems so elementary now that it’s done. Having someone holding me accountable was key though.
On Oct 1st I started my 2nd Whole 30….no I am not going to try to sell you on this elimination diet. Although it’s got me feeling pretty damn good these days. The thing I have noticed is that because of the lack of choices (and other things), I am at ease like I have never been before with food. Brief overview of Whole 30: it’s an elimination diet; no dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol, legumes, and all additives for 30 days. After 30 days reintroduce them to see how they make you feel and if you have any sensitivities. It definitely takes work and planning. This is my second time around and I have found it to be more liberating than stressful. (keep in mind there is a very detailed book involved that guides you the entire way).
Sometimes it takes not having to make decisions to realize how much they were using up so much of your time and energy. In hindsight I am seeing all of this.
What do you have trouble making decisions about? Do you experience mental fatigue as discussed here?
Ask yourself these questions and don’t worry about the answer. It is likely that the answers will come because the seed is planted. Becoming aware of what needs to change is the first step. Once you do, here is a quick guideline to shifting that decision fatigue and becoming the dynamo you know you can be!
1. Identify 1 area of your life where decisions fatigue you.
2. Write down all the tasks involved.
3. Plan what order tasks need to be in to make the task most efficient.
4. Stick to the schedule or plan. (Most important!)