Did you know?
As adults, we switch between tasks more than 300 times per day. We make roughly 200 decisions based on food consumption alone. We also send up to 40 messages and sift through approximately 130 emails. That’s what Microsoft touted when it debuted its To-Do app in 2017, claiming that individuals navigate a lump sum of 35,000 decisions daily.
So, if your brain feels “maxed out” by the end of the day, it probably is, and if you’re not careful, that’s when decision fatigue creeps in.
Coined by Roy F. Baumeister, social psychologist and author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, decision fatigue occurs after a string of decision-making results in low self-control and willpower. When we lack the will, our brain takes an automatic shortcut in favor of short-term gains.
Much like the “autopilot” function in a car, the idea of cutting corners and running an occasional red light comes with consequences. In broader terms, emotional problems, underachievement, lack of persistence, and absent-minded communication is common when we act on sheer impulse.
How to Feel Less Like a Human Doing and More Like a “Human Being”
Being requires being in touch with what is important to you and not just reacting. The difference between reacting and responding is that one is deliberate and based on intention, needs and values and the other is autopilot.
Sometimes, vegging out on the couch can be just what the doctor ordered. And conserving your energy to override decision fatigue.
And these three strategies can help too. They will leave you feeling much more in control (instead of on cruise control).
Engage a Coach
Imagine if you could have a sounding board? How about a neutral, nonbiased party who could help you unscramble your thoughts and finally prioritize them? A coach can help you see the horizon clearly including options to consider, perspectives to try on, and even pre-planning best and worse-case scenarios.
Someone who has your back. Someone who can help you stay aligned with your own true north, even when you feel like you are spinning, and your true north has been de-magnetized.
Establish a Workflow of “Routine” Decisions
Pay attention to your energy peaks and leaks and make decisions during your more focused hours.
According to clinical psychologist, Chantal Hofstee, “A lack of routine equals an energy leak in your system. You can combat this by structuring your day to avoid making important decisions at the end of it.”
Cook and meal prep for the week ahead. Lay out your clothes for work. Jot down your grocery list, errands, and projects on Sunday nights. This may put a 20 to 30 percent dent in the decision-making hamster wheel. It’s quite the load off, and in getting ahead of menial tasks, you leave space for larger decisions and life’s inevitable curveballs.
Some of our best decisions come when we’re in a relaxed state- when hands are busy, but the mind is free. Driving, doing the dishes, and things that don’t require intense concentration. This flow state gives us access to other parts of our brain that lead to more creative and reliable responses. If you know a big decision is coming up and you’ve set aside time to work with a coach, or to quietly reflect on that decision, you’ll inevitably reduce stress and increase productivity.
Fuel for Thought – Feed Your Mind and Body
Hunger makes us act swiftly without much thought. We neglect the fact that our bodies need food and a reduction in our glucose levels can lead to a shutdown. Empty fumes won’t compensate – so pay attention to your body’s systemic needs, and you’ll minimize crash landings (a.k.a. poor decisions).
Other forms of fuel – exercise, meditation, and listening to an uplifting podcast – can bring about a significant shift. Because when we’re feeling present, we disrupt a flurry of thoughts and concerns. These outlets permit us to pause, almost as if we turned a switch. They’re healthy “brain snacks” leaving us fulfilled, rather than fearful.
You can’t reach a good decision unless self-care is front and center.
Here’s one smart decision you CAN make today.
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Want to meet us in person? On Friday, September 7th, 2018, we’ll be hosting a workshop for the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on cultivating personal communication strategies. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, we’d love to see you. Contact the Chamber of Commerce to learn more.
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