Do you often feel exhausted before you even start your workday? It’s not surprising, considering how much effort it takes just to get out of the house in the morning. Before you’ve walked out the door, you’ve probably already made dozens of decisions like:

Should I have cereal for breakfast or a smoothie?

Do I want to wear pants today or a skirt?

Will I need to bring an umbrella?

Is it cold enough to need a jacket?

Should I have a second cup of coffee before I leave the house?

Having the ability to make so many decisions is both a blessing and a curse.

Studies suggest most Americans make up to 35,000 decisions every day! Unfortunately, the human brain only has a limited capacity for decision-making. When that limit is pushed, there’s a high likelihood of making poor decisions or avoiding decision-making altogether. The resulting stress and exhaustion is a common problem known as decision fatigue.

Signs of Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is often so prevalent that you may assume the symptoms are just a part of your personality. Some of the primary signs that you’re suffering from decision fatigue include:

  • Difficulty making even the simplest of decisions
  • Constantly putting off making decisions
  • Feeling irritable when people ask you routine questions
  • Dreaming about shirking all of your responsibilities
  • Feeling like you don’t have enough mental clarity to weigh out pros and cons
  • Inability to move onto another task after making important decisions
  • Feeling like you don’t have enough energy to finish out your day

Recognizing decision fatigue and taking steps to mitigate it will help you avoid potential negative consequences. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

8 Powerful Tips for Overcoming Decision Fatigue

There’s no way to avoid all decisions, but you can make adjustments to minimize how many you must make. This will help ensure you have the energy to focus on making good decisions when they truly matter.

1. Keep it Simple

There’s a reason why many of the world’s most brilliant and successful people wear the same outfits day in and day out. You couldn’t imagine Steve Jobs without his signature black turtleneck and jeans. When asked about the grey t-shirts he reportedly wears every day, Mark Zuckerberg told interviewers he doesn’t want to waste his time with “silly” decisions like what to wear.

You can follow in their footsteps by thinking about the decisions you make each day and choosing a few to eliminate. Eat the same thing for breakfast every day or adopt your own signature clothing look and stick to it. Removing these decisions simplifies your life and frees up your brain power for more important things.

2. Plan Ahead

If you’re not going to wear the same outfit every day, you can still make things easier by laying out your clothes, accessories, and shoes before you go to bed. Studies show that we’re most productive during the first two hours after we wake up, so reducing early morning decisions is important for preserving brain-power.

Make meal-time less stressful by planning out your menu once a week. If you have some disposable income, a meal-delivery service like Home Chef or HelloFresh can make this easy and fun.

3. Use Habits and Schedules

You already have some habits built into your daily routine that no longer require decisions or debate. Each morning you do things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, and brushing your teeth without even thinking about it.

Try adding more daily habits like exercising at the same time each morning, starting every day with a smoothie, or assigning household chores to a specific day of the week. Studies show it takes about 21 days of repetition for something to become a habit. Once this happens, you’ll have one less daily decision to make.

4. Minimize Shopping

When you consider how many decisions you have to make during a single trip to the grocery store, it’s no wonder many of us find shopping exhausting. From selecting the perfect avocado to deciding whether to stick with your favorite brand or buy what’s on sale, you can feel completely drained by the time you reach the check-out aisle.

Save yourself the trouble by using a grocery delivery service like Shipt or Instacart. Add items to your list as you think of them and schedule your delivery for a specific day and time each week. For household staples, take advantage of services like Amazon’s subscribe and save. When the items you need automatically show up at your door, you can focus your energy on other things.

5. Make a (Short!) To-Do List

Making a to-do list before you go to bed helps ease your mind so you can get a good night’s sleep. The key to limiting decision fatigue lies in keeping your list short. Write down the three most important things you need to get done the next day and leave it at that.

Sticking to just three items helps avoid the stress of wading through too many options, trying to decide where to start. When you’re able to get through your list each day, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and increased self-confidence.

6. Automate Your Fitness

Plan out your exercise for the week and add the dates and times to your calendar. When you view scheduled exercise as an important appointment, you’re less likely to waffle when it’s time.

If you can afford it, hiring a personal trainer is an excellent investment. You’ll be given specific days and times when you need to show up at the gym, and you won’t have to think about what to do once you get there.

7. Learn How to Handle Invitations

When you’re invited to do something, either commit to it or say no right away. If you really don’t want to do it, be honest and upfront about your feelings. Telling somebody you’ll think about it when you really want to say no just leads to wasted energy as you spend days trying to come up with an excuse.

If you say yes to an invitation, lock it into your calendar and stop debating it. Once you embrace the fact that making decisions quickly is necessary for your mental health, you’ll eliminate a major stressor from your life.

8. Stop Second Guessing Yourself

Constantly re-evaluating the choices you’ve already made is a sure way to exhaust yourself. Beating yourself up over whether you’ve made the right decision often brings more stress than the potential repercussions of the decision itself.

Once you’ve decided on something, don’t linger on the possible drawbacks. Either focus on the benefits or stop thinking about it altogether.

The Bottom Line

The sooner you take steps to reduce decision fatigue, the better off you’ll be. Implementing the tips above will help you simplify and automate your life while creating some healthy habits along the way. You’ll have more confidence in yourself, feel more comfortable with the decisions you’ve made, and garner more respect from those around you.

Now that you have the tools you need, don’t wait to get started!

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