Decision fatigue

Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision-making. This is linked to the idea that human beings have a finite amount of mental energy for exerting self-control.

Each decision, no matter how minor, depletes some of the energy available for later decisions. As decision fatigue sets in, individuals may resort to either making reckless decisions or avoiding decisions entirely, leading to inaction. They may also become more susceptible to persuasion, making decisions that could be contrary to their best interests.

For example, judges have been found to make less favourable rulings as the day progresses, potentially due to decision fatigue. Similarly, shoppers may make more impulsive purchases after making numerous decisions about what to buy.

Effective strategies for mitigating decision fatigue may include prioritising important decisions, reducing decision-making tasks where possible, and taking breaks or engaging in activities that promote relaxation and mental rejuvenation.

In addition, developing effective decision-making skills and strategies can help to build resilience to decision fatigue and promote effective decision-making even in challenging or complex situations.

Decision fatigue

To reduce decision fatigue:

* Prioritise decisions: Focus your mental energy on the most important decisions, and avoid overthinking trivial choices.

* Establish routines: Create daily routines and habits that reduce the number of decisions you need to make.

* Simplify choices: Limit the number of options you consider, and avoid getting overwhelmed by excessive information.

* Schedule decision-making: Tackle complex decisions when your mental energy is at its peak, such as in the morning or after a break.

* Delegate when possible: Trust others to make decisions in their areas of expertise, and avoid micromanaging.
Decision fatigue can impact you by:

* Increasing stress and anxiety: Continuously making decisions can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.

* Reducing self-control: As decision-making energy depletes, individuals may struggle to resist impulsive or unhealthy behaviours.

* Impairing productivity: Decision fatigue can result in difficulty concentrating and a decline in overall performance.

* Hindering effective decision-making: Prolonged decision-making can lead to suboptimal or irrational choices.
While it is unlikely that decision fatigue can be eliminated entirely, individuals can take steps to manage and reduce its impact on their lives. By adopting strategies such as prioritising decisions, establishing routines, and delegating when possible, individuals can conserve their mental energy and minimise the negative effects of decision fatigue. Additionally, practising self-awareness and recognising the signs of decision fatigue can help individuals make adjustments to their decision-making process, ensuring more effective and rational choices are made.