We all have to make decisions. Hundreds of them every day. The more roles we have in life, the more hats we wear, parent, employee, business owner, partner, team member, the bigger that number. Whilst the number of decisions may have been big before, Covid just added an extra layer to most of those decisions.
You may well be wondering why can’t things just go back to the way they were? Why can’t things just be simple? You’re not alone. If you’re feeling the weight of all of the decisions, if you’re feeling under pressure, overwhelmed, you may well be feeling the effects of what’s called decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is simply becoming exhausted from constantly making decisions. I first came across the term decision fatigue after reading an interview with Barack Obama back in 2014 in Vanity Fair of all places. The concept immediately struck a chord, but also put things in perspective. I may have plenty of decisions to make, but someone with that weight of responsibility takes it to a whole different level. Here are a couple of subtle shifts we can all make and a couple of tips from Obama.
How to reduce the number of decisions we’re making:
- Automate repetitive tasks. Automating means you make the decision once and then use it as a rule. Every time you apply that rule, you have saved making a new decision. Money is a great place to start. I help clients set up their banking so that it happens automatically – the same day every month, the same things happen without making more decisions. Bills are on direct debit, credit card balances are cleared, mortgage repayments are made and investment accounts are topped up. Sure, it needs to be checked, but that checking can be done periodically and it’s quick and easy.
- Use simple tools. Technology is a really simple way to cut down on decisions and Apple have clearly been onto this for some time. My iPhone already reminds me to switch on my alarm at the right time on the right day. One less decision one less thing to remember. Have a look at the Shortcuts app. A bit fiddly to start but it strips out repetitive tasks by creating rules.
- Outsource your pain points. This often comes down to affordability, but if you can, it’ll give you time back and lessen the load. I recently outsourced the pain of trimming an 8 foot hedge. Did I feel a bit less manly? Maybe, but I got over it remarkably quickly once I realised I cut out a whole series of decisions getting the right tools, thinking about safety and how I was going to get everything to the tip.
- Plan it out. I walked into a friends place for a BBQ and saw the week’s menu written up on a whiteboard. A set of decisions, made once , applied across the week. For Obama it was working out what he was going to wear. He settled on grey or blue suit, white shirt, dark tie.
Go easy on yourself. We have all taken on more than we bargained for recently and something has to give eventually. Sometimes you need to channel your inner Elsa and just let it go. Perhaps just a couple of small things, less important things, to create that bit of extra space and relieve pressure.
Given where this article started, I’ll leave the last word and some uncommon sense to Obama “You have to exercise or at some point, you’ll just break down.”