Decision Fatigue | Why You Can’t Make Decisions

From: How to Sell Online  with Alison J. Prince

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Decision Fatigue | Why You Can’t Make Decisions

Have you ever wondered why it’s so dang hard to make decisions sometimes? 

Well, there’s some good news, and there’s some bad news.

The good news is there is an explanation as to why you struggle to make decisions sometimes. It’s called decision fatigue. More on that soon.

The bad news is our brains are only capable of handling a certain amount of decisions each day and you might be using yours on deciding on things like what’s for dinner.

Let me pause here for a second…

The dinner question. If there was a scale of the most dreaded question of moms, I think that one would top the charts. Anytime I hear it, I think my brain implodes a little bit. Are you with me on that?!

So, about the number of questions you can make each day – this isn’t just something I’ve made up. There are some smart scientists that have done studies and estimate that we make 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s so crazy to me! Would you have guessed it was so high?!

The more decisions you make, the less effective you get at making them. That’s why when 5 o’clock rolls around you get that dinner question, you want to curl up in a ball and cry. You’ve spent your whole day making a bazillion decisions, and now your brain is fried. 

Top leaders such as former United States President Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg have been known to look for even the most basic ways to reduce the number of decisions they have to make each day. Each of them have limited their outfits down to just one or two options. When they open their closet, they just reach in and grab. No trying on 10 different outfits and then comparing shoes and accessories. They keep it simple because they want to save their brain power for the important things that will surely come their way during the day. Maybe easier said than done if you are a fashionista but you get the idea.

How Our Brains Make Decisions

Making decisions takes energy so the more you make, the more it takes out of you. Prince Ghuman, a neural marketing guru outlines that our brain operates in two modes when making decisions.

  1. Reactive: This mode is mostly automatic and makes decision-based on intuition and what is happening to you or around you. This is like driving to the store and switching lanes based on the cars around you or stopping at that stop sign. You really don’t spend a lot of time and brainpower on these – they just happen.
  2. Deliberate: This mode makes rational and analytical decisions. These are the decisions that your brain really has to work hard for and it has a finite capacity to do. This could be about your online store, what to wear, or what’s for dinner. Which of these do you want to spend your finite supply of decision-making ability on?!

So, now you know that you are making 35,000 reactive and deliberate decisions each day but the scary part is, other studies show that your brain can only make 75 of those deliberate decisions each day before it runs out of steam

Are you draining your brainpower by making too many unnecessary decisions each day?

If you’re like me, that’s a big ole’ YES!

  • Brown or black belt?
  • Necklace or no necklace?
  • Bring an umbrella or not?
  • Drive or Uber?
  • Reorder products or not?
  • Funny movie or scary movie?
  • Pizza or Chick-Fil-A?  (just kidding, that’s not a decision)

You get the point, though. Our decision-making bandwidth can quickly get used up by things that don’t really matter.

The important question becomes… How do you decrease the number of decisions you are making, thus decreasing decision fatigue, so that you can focus on the things that matter – the things that really move the needle in your business and your life.

How To Reduce The Number Of Decisions You Make

The first thing you can do is take notes from the powerful leaders that I referenced above and reduce your wardrobe options. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I keep things simple with my outfits and it’s because of exactly this. I don’t want to waste 10 minutes every day deciding on what to wear. If you see me anywhere, I’ll likely be wearing an empowering shirt (I call them my superhero capes) and some shorts or a skirt. Simple, quick, and effective.

Tip: Clean up that wardrobe and get rid of unnecessary things and look for simple solutions to your daily outfits so you can “grab and go”.

Another area you can make some progress is food. Researchers say that we make 226.7 decisions each day on what we are going to eat. I totally believe it. Think about all the decision making that goes into one dinner for your family – what is the meal, do you have the ingredients, what time should you start cooking, who’s going to help with what, etc, etc. That’s a lot of brainpower just to put one meal on the table for your family. Look for ways to streamline this process and take away all the unneeded decisions.

Tip: Look into meal delivery options in your area to have food delivered to you so you don’t have to go to the grocery or spend time cooking. 

Why You Need To Create New Habits

Yea, I know – you hear it all the time. Create a habit to lose weight, eat better, sleep better, etc. But the facts are the facts. Creating (good) habits can totally transform your life.

To create habits, you have to make it easy for yourself. Let’s take the example of saving $5 every day. This is a great habit to have if you can do it subconsciously but if you have to go out of your way to remember it every time, you will forget it – no doubt about it. 

So, how do you make it easy?!

Automate it!

Tip: Set up an account at your bank that automatically moves $5 every single day from your checking account into your savings account. Then forget about it. 

There are tons of great habits that you can easily implement whether it be for your life, family, or business.

Drinking water was a big one for me. For years I struggled to drink the proper amount of water. I mean, I wanted to, but for some reason, it just rarely happened. That was until I found the trigger that helped make it effortless. That trigger for me was the perfect water bottle. Now I carry it around like I do my cell phone and I routinely get 1-2 gallons of water per day.

Working out is another big one for a lot of people – and it was for me too. I wanted it badly but always found the excuse for not going – too busy, too tired, etc. Then I found a way to create a habit and for me, it was as simple to stop thinking about it. Yea, my habit was to literally not think about it. When my alarm goes off, I kick those thoughts of hitting the snooze button out of my head and get on with living a healthier life. 

How To Create New Habits

Getting the idea to create new habits is the easy part, but implementing might leave you either not starting or constantly back at ground zero. That’s because there are strategies to making your habits stick.

The people that you see with unbreakable habits didn’t get there overnight. And I sure know that I didn’t get there overnight, nor am I perfect with maintaining them. But even if I do fall off the wagon, it’s so much easier for me to get back on because I understand the foundational elements for creating habits that stick.

If you’re ready to create your own unbreakable habits, be sure to check out this episode of the How to Sell Online podcast, because we are diving into all things decisions, habits, and how to create a better and more efficient life! 

See you there!

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