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35,000 a day is an estimate of how many daily decisions humans make. No surprise that at the end of the day, I’m tired. Not from exercise, work, or my list-induced panic attacks, but from finite energy of saying yes, no, or maybe and then being followed up with more.
Energy is finite, up to and including mental energy.
I work with school groups who come in for a 2-hour event: 15 minutes of instruction, a 15-minute activity, a 20-minute film, and 60 minutes of touring the exhibit hall. At most, I spend an hour and a half talking. Even that is an exaggeration, as I don’t speak the entire time. I’m a guide on the side kind of ranger, not a sage on the stage.
Yet by the end of each program, I’m exhausted. So exhausted you’ll find me sprawled out on the library floor during my lunch break taking a nap.
It’s a testament to my introverted ways and insight into how depleting a simple task can be. Decision fatigue is like that, small choices that pull a day’s worth of energy.
What is decision fatigue?
Medical News Today offers a tribute, “The theory surrounding decision fatigue is that a human’s ability to make decisions can get worse after making many decisions, as their brain will be more fatigued. […] It can help some people to think of the decision making ability as a finite source, such as a battery. Each decision reduces the charge of the battery, and the person has less energy available to make other decisions later on.”
Everything requires energy and there’s a cost to every choice. Every yes will require a sacrifice of more. Each no demands courage and accepting the fate of denial.
Decisions are like a trickle of water, slow, steady, and persistent. The same persistence that has smoothed stones, extinguished fires, and turned fanny packs from lame to bags of fame. Like anything small, cute, and in moderation, it’s healthy and promotes growth. While a heavy dose lead to disaster.
I demolish decision fatigue because it leads to decision disasters.
I’ve been kidnapped by decision fatigue and my budget is what gets busted.
Rarely, do I go grocery shopping after work.
Even though I feel stable enough to make good choices, having a list and all, I struggle.
Instead of being quick and sticking to the list, I linger and buy more of what’s not on the list because I’m hungry and tired. Instead of hearing a voice of reason and restraint, a siren sings to sugary binges because that’s what my mind craves in its weakened state.
Impulse buying, avoiding decisions, or choosing poorly are side effects of fatigue. Rarely, do I make the good choices after a day of decision fatigue.
An easy way to demolish decision fatigue is to shift into a higher mindset: enjoy decision-making.
As with most challenges, when a different filter is placed over the unsuspecting view, it shifts the rules.
I’ll admit, I have yet to master this trick. I may be a default optimist, but believing that I enjoy decision-making more than a piping cup of hot coffee while basking in a rosy Icelandic sunrise, is a challenge.
I’m a walking caution of progess.
Instead, I put physical barriers to remove options which include:
- Simplifying my wardrobe
- Wearing a work uniform
- Having a breakfast routine (eggs, fruit, and a slice of bread)
- Taking scheduled breaks
- Buying the same groceries weekly
- Having a morning routine
- Keeping my alarm on seven days a week
Ironically, many of these defaults are proud prizes of a minimalist lifestyle. A simplified lifestyle is more than decluttered space and an open calendar, it’s a buffer for decision fatigue too.
Demolish decision fatigue with little practices that build into better results.
Recently, I lived out of a backpack for ten days and everything was limited from shirts and socks to pants and panties. Initially, there were lingering concerns about having “enough”. As the travel began, that concern evaporated like heat over a milky blue hot spring.
Instead of pondering wardrobe decisions, I had space and grace to write journal entries, send photos to friends, and most importantly, sleep.
If fellow travelers noticed my limited wardrobe, they didn’t mention it. I’m sure they were more invested in their travel memories than what that one girl wore, day after day.
I know I was. I was more fascinated with how the northern lights swirled and danced, or the waves that bludgeoned themselves on banks of the black beach, or the dizzying heights of a waterfall, to care about my limited wardrobe options.
Having fewer decisions in one area energized thoughts, contemplation, and wonder for another.
Not a bad way to travel and an even better way to live.