Beat the Decision Fatigue

When my daughter was a year and a half and I was pregnant with my son, I worked full-time graveyard shifts at a hospital and full-time days at an elementary school as a health clerk. I was tired--the kind of tired that no amount of caffeine can cure.

One morning, I was running late for work and I couldn’t even pick an outfit for my daughter to wear to daycare. I was so exhausted physically and mentally that I could not even tell which shirt matched which pair of pants. I eventually put her in the car wearing only her diaper, stuffing several pieces of clothing in the diaper bag, and let my sweet nanny decide how to dress her.

It was bad.

Fortunately, this was not a life-changing decision and my daughter probably won’t even remember it.

You probably haven’t experienced this exact situation, but you may be familiar with these feelings. Does hearing a simple phrase like ‘What’s for dinner?’ cause your insides to twist? Then you may be experiencing decision fatigue. Many moms experience “decision fatigue” which describes the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It is one of the leading causes of irrational trade-offs in decision-making.

So, how do we avoid this type of burnout? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make the important things into a ritual/habit. If you always go to the gym at 6:30 AM, you don’t have to make that choice repeatedly. Or if you start going to bed at 11 PM, your brain doesn’t have to decide every day.

  2. Make as many small choices ahead of time as possible. Lay out clothes the night before. Meal plan at least a week in advance.

  3. Schedule doctor, dentist and therapy appointments at the previous appointments when they ask you.

  4. Turn off notifications on your phone that will take your attention away from what you are doing. Schedule a time to check your email or social media.

  5. Decide what is essential in your life. Make a list of the top ten. Then let the rest go.

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