How to Make Better Choices and Live a More Fulfilling Life
As I was researching for my new book, The Time-Optimized Life, I came across the concept of decision fatigue. According to The American Medical Association, they define it as:
Making decisions day in and day out—whether they are as easy picking a route home from work or as difficult as navigating a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic—can be exhausting and cause people to feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. This is known as decision fatigue, which is a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions. You have probably experienced decision fatigue during the pandemic because it has added new layers of complexity to the daily choices we are confronted with. 
While there is still some debate whether decision fatigue is a medical condition, I know I have experienced it many times. Here are some examples.
- Buying a house under construction and having to make all the color and finish decisions in one afternoon.
- Having to preemptively evacuate with my kids across the state because of a potential hurricane while my wife was out of the country.
- Working with my siblings, caring for my mom before she passed away.
- Making last minute changes to a business plan, under a tight deadline provided by the boss.
Decision fatigue is born out of stress. Its side effects will be impulsivity, avoidance, and indecision. It can manifest from personal or professional circumstances. When it is allowed to grow and become more frequent, we then have a lifestyle problem that can happen at any age and stage.
To conquer lifestyle decision fatigue requires you to make a critical decision and that is you are trying to make too many decisions at once. That is easier said than done when your brain might be in a fog, or all kinds of choices are coming at you from all different directions. Here are some tips to gain back the right focus.
Up your personal care game
Changes are you are not taking the best care of yourself. Increase sleep, exercise consistently, eat the right foods, and yes…take breaks during the day. The more you take care of yourself, the better your brain is going to function. Making decisions will come easier.
Detox from your screen use
Our phones, tablets, computer screens, and televisions are gateways to mindless activity. How much time do you waste on social media? Do you find time gets lost when you spend too much unproductive time on your devices? You then come back to reality and see that more real-world decisions need to be made. Limit the screens and you’ll be better ready to decide.
Know what the heck you are doing
I work with clients on their use of time. When I ask to see their calendars, I see a lot of open spots. Time that is not planned. When you do not have a plan for your day or week, you open yourself up to periods of “time vacuum” where circumstances run you and not the other way around. Get details around your activities and you be more decisive and reduce others from invading your life with their need to make decisions for them.
When you are feeling well (because you are responsible for you), reducing screen time (because you want to live life more in the tangible world), and your schedule is planned (because you seek predictability) the word fatigue drops off from the decision. Life is not a series of impulsive choices, procrastination, bouts of anxiety, and periods of stress. Your lifestyle is more time-optimized.
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 Sara Berg, MS, “What doctors wish patients knew about decision fatigue,” https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/whatdoctors-
wish-patients-knew-about-decision-fatigue, (accessed October 5, 2022).