Too many decisions, so little time: the never-ending decision fatigue

Research states that a human being makes a jaw-dropping amount of 35,000 decisions every day! You may wonder how is that even possible. decisions need not be only related to crucial life-changing situations. Decisions range from deciding what we will be eating for breakfast to whom we will be making our life partner.

Like Pandora’s box, each day comes with a huge array of choices to be taken. Knowingly or unknowingly, we end up making such an exorbitant number of decisions every day. No wonder why our brains have so many folds and creases! 

While few people easily juggle between so many tasks, some people often become mentally exhausted due to constantly surrounded by choices. Eventually, such people end up in a deep abyss where their brain is no longer able to analyze and sift choices, let alone better ones. 

That’s when decision fatigue takes place. 

What is decision fatigue?

Decision Fatigue was a term counted by Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist. As the name implies, it refers to overt stress due to too many choices. 

Baumeister also stated that this fatigue necessarily may not result due to decisions only. People who have exhausted their will power also find themselves in trouble to make decisions. This phenomenon is called “ego depletion”. Baumeister added this phenomenon to the Freudian hypothesis. 

On average an adult has about 50,000 thoughts every day. That’s way too high. On top of it, we are forced to choose between as simple as the morning breakfast to what attire to wear at work. Too many choices easily drain a person mentally.

A common example is meal planning. Very often, mothers face this issue, as it’s an everyday thing. Deciding what to prepare for a meal is far more strenuous then actually preparing it, at times. 

How to deal with decision fatigue?

Follow these steps to divert from making poor decisions:

a) Magic number 7:

George Miller propounded Magic number 7 (+ or -2) theory. It states that the capacity of the short-term memory ranges between 5 to 9 options. Miller affirmed that our memory has various blocks that can store only a limited number of choices. If the options are contained within that number, an adult can make better decisions. If it goes beyond that, the value of the decision worsens, leading to poorer choices. 

Make sure the number of choices does not go beyond 5. It is the maximum number one can deal with.

b) Focus on your values:

As human beings, we have our own set of personal values that we follow in life. Think if the choices will align with your values or not.

Our values drive our decision-making skills. If we are confused about a particular choice, we can link it to our values and see if they match. 

c) Don’t spend too much time on low-stakes decisions: 

Low stakes decisions refer to those decisions that are of less importance. These decisions are minimal. They include the attire you have to wear for the office, the breakfast you have to eat, etc. 

Don’t let such simple decisions sap your energy. Prepare a day in advance. Eg: Arrange the items for tomorrow’s breakfast a day prior by night.

d) Try to minimize the need to make decisions:

One can minimize the need to make decisions by following a routine. It helps us be more efficient. Further, it saves time by reducing the need to plan. 

e) Make decisions when you are highly motivated:

It is never wise to make high-stakes decisions when we are sad and angry. Basically, we should refrain from decision-making whenever we feel emotionally high. the decisions we take at our lower times tend to affect the positive consequences. 

Making choices while motivated does not just save you from blunders, but also helps you yield the best results. Hence, decision-making should be done while our mind is in a balanced state.

f) Let your subconscious mind work on it:

Our subconscious mind is always working even though we don’t notice it. Research states that sleeping helps the inner mind process the information. While you have a hearty nap, your mind is constantly working behind and analyzing problems. You end up with better ideas that boost your decision-making skills. 

To sum up, life is all about making decisions. One decision can change your life, the way you never expected. How do you make decisions? 

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