3 Tips to Overcome Decision Fatigue
Do you find that your willpower is declining earlier in the day than it used to?
We find this is especially common among busy women who are moms, go to school, and/or work full-time.
You don’t have to fall into any of these categories to experience a decline in willpower, but these are some of the circumstances our clients are going through.
It seems that decision fatigue is affecting people now more than ever.
If you aren’t sure what that is, decision fatigue is when the quality and quantity of decisions you make decrease after a long period of decision-making. You’ll likely find yourself experiencing this when you have a lot of decisions to make over a short period.
As a result, you become mentally exhausted and start making poor decisions.
This can happen in many different contexts, such as at work, when shopping, when deciding whether to exercise, or when making food choices.
Decision fatigue can negatively impact your progress and overall well-being by making you decide to do things like skip your workouts and eat fast food instead of the healthy meals you planned.
What Does Decision Fatigue Look Like?
Chances are you have to make tons of decisions at work, make decisions about how to best care for your children, make decisions about your education, or whatever keeps you busy in your life. Not to mention all the other mundane decisions you make throughout the day.
The more decisions you need to make, the worse you’re going to be at weighing all the options and making a smart choice.
Look at some study results on decision fatigue:
“Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time” (Hadar & Sood, 2014).
No matter how rational or “in tune” you are, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a mental price. And unlike physical fatigue—which we are consciously aware of—decision fatigue often happens without us knowing.
How to Combat Decision Fatigue
So how can you actively counteract decision fatigue so you aren’t skipping your workout to get takeout at 6 p.m.?
Here are three easy steps to help you make healthier decisions and stick to your wellness goals.
Simplify the choices you make throughout the day.
For many, this means following a workout program written in advance. (or better yet—hire a trusted professional to write them for you!)
Or it could mean planning meals on Sunday and eating the same breakfast every day.
Or maybe just following a schedule as closely as possible.
Simplify your life as much as possible so you can reduce the number of decisions you have to make each day.
2. Be honest
Set honest priorities for your day.
Create a short, important to-do list with realistic and achievable tasks.
You’ll find that you accomplish a lot more and feel much better at the end of the day when you are realistic with your expectations from the outset.
A recommendation we give our clients is to write down each day:
- Three things you must do
- Two things you should do
- One thing that would be nice to do
This way, your to-do list is more manageable and causes you less stress.
3. Start early
Make the important decisions or do the essential tasks when you believe willpower is high.
Decision fatigue makes us feel out of control. Figure out when you have the most willpower and use it to your advantage.
For example, you may prefer morning workouts because that is when you feel most in control.
Work With a Coach
Understanding willpower and how decision fatigue affects your ability to make choices can go a long way!
The team at KJO Coaching is highly skilled at helping people like you achieve their health and fitness goals by helping them overcome challenges such as decision fatigue.
We will teach you to develop healthy habits that will lead to long-term results.
Click here to learn more about working with our team.
You can also get a head start on making positive changes to your health through our FREE self-sabotage workshop.
In this 5-day workshop, you will learn the “why” behind your cravings, all-or-nothing thinking, and other psychological that keep getting in the way of your health and fitness goals.
Get access here.
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Hadar, L., & Sood, S. (2014). When Knowledge Is Demotivating: Subjective Knowledge and Choice Overload. Psychological Science, 25(9), 1739–1747. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614539165