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"Your decision-making ability declines throughout the day. So, if you have something important to decide, do it early." Robert Cialdini 

Are You Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed?

Each day is filled with countless choices, from deciding what to wear, to choosing what to eat, and each decision eats away at our most valuable asset - mental energy. We’ve got plenty of free time in our lives, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but our mental energy is finite and each day it must be protected.

Are you feeling the weight of decision-making? I know I am. I go through phases especially at the end of tough days where I simply don't want to make any more choices. I feel easily overwhelmed and even when others offer to help me, I often can't stand the thought of having to engage my mind and pass the work over. I've covered this subject before but I feel it's too important to not re address.

Decision Fatigue

So, what exactly is Decision Fatigue? It's the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It's not just about making poor choices; it's about feeling mentally drained from the constant barrage of "should I or shouldn't I?" that each day brings. This phenomenon can significantly affect your daily productivity and overall happiness.

Here are six examples of decision fatigue in daily life:

  1. Struggling to decide what to watch on a streaming service after a long day.

  2. Feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails in your inbox and not knowing where to start.

  3. Indecision when selecting a restaurant for dinner due to the vast number of options available.

  4. Difficulties in choosing between multiple similar products while shopping online.

  5. Taking longer to make decisions towards the end of a workday.

  6. Being more impulsive or giving in to temptations when mentally drained from making decisions.

I genuinely feel that the modern world impacts us quite significantly in this area. Modern living has introduced a more complex and interconnected environment, increasing the frequency of decisions and potentially exacerbating the experience of decision fatigue. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

  • Subscription services: With the rise of subscription-based models, individuals now have to choose from a wide variety of services, and with our money on the line this can mean a helluva lot of research too.

  • Digital communication: The advent of social media, messaging apps, and email has led to an influx of constant communication, requiring individuals to prioritize and respond to multiple messages throughout the day.

  • Smart devices and the Internet of Things: As technology advances, the number of smart devices and IoT-enabled appliances continues to grow, forcing users to make numerous choices about how to integrate and use these devices in their daily routines.

  • Scheduling and prioritizing tasks: Figuring out the best way to manage work, family, and social commitments can be challenging.

  • Online shopping: Browsing through multiple websites and comparing products and prices can create decision fatigue.

  • Social media: Choosing what content to consume, engage with, or share on various social media platforms can lead to mental strain.

  • Television and streaming services: Selecting a movie or TV show from the vast array of options can be overwhelming.

“Nothing can save you from your fatigued mind.” Isaiah Hankel

Managing Decision Fatigue

A simple example of how some people reduce their decision fatigue is that you will notice them wearing the same outfits, which stems from mental exhaustion caused by constant decision-making. Notable figures such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama have popularized this practice to minimize trivial choices and conserve mental energy for more decisions.

The connection to decision fatigue lies in the notion that our cognitive resources are limited, and every decision we make, no matter how small, depletes these resources. By removing the daily decision of choosing an outfit, individuals can preserve their mental energy for more pressing matters and potentially reduce the experience of decision fatigue.

Studies suggest that we all face hundreds to thousands of decisions daily, and each choice we make, no matter how small, chips away at our mental energy. research has shown that judges tend to be more lenient right after a break than at the end of a long session, for example. Decision fatigue is a real thing.

Think about directing a film, for instance. From casting actors and approving costumes to choosing shooting locations, deciding on camera angles, and editing scenes – every single decision plays a role in shaping the movie's artistic vision and quality. As the director navigates through pre-production, filming, and post-production, decision fatigue can kick in, leading to exhaustion, lack of focus, and difficulty in decision-making. This can ultimately impact the director's ability to stay true to their creative vision and make the best choices for the film.

To tackle this, directors often delegate tasks to trusted team members like assistant directors and production designers, allowing them to concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the film. Setting a clear vision and plan from the start can streamline the decision-making process throughout production, enabling the team to better understand the director's needs and easing the acceptance of their offerings.

Experts such as Dr. Roy Baumeister, a respected psychologist, compare mental exhaustion from decisions to muscle fatigue – the more decisions we make, the more our decision-making abilities weaken. Recognizing this hidden impact is vital for managing our daily well-being and keeping our minds sharp.

"Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference." Michelle Richmond
Transform Your Life with Simple Strategies

By effectively managing decision fatigue, you can significantly enhance your daily life and boost your overall happiness. Imagine a life where each decision doesn't leave you feeling drained but empowered. Simplifying your choices doesn't just ease mental strain; it can lead to more satisfaction and a profound sense of control over your life.

Managing decision fatigue involves implementing strategies that help reduce the number of decisions you make and conserve mental energy. Here are five ways to manage decision fatigue effectively:

  • Prioritize tasks: Tackle important decisions during your peak energy levels, and save less significant choices for later in the day. I've covered this in various shows. Check out my episode on the focus funnel to help you put your time where it really matters. Don't allow yourself to be constantly distracted by the stuff that doesn't matter. Use that higher level thinking I like to talk about.

  • Delegate and automate: Offload tasks or decisions to others when possible, or use automation tools to streamline repetitive choices. I'm trialling AI software at the moment. it's not been plain sailing by any means but it's something that I can lean on occasionally to help me out.

  • Limit options: Narrow down choices to a manageable number to avoid overwhelming yourself with too many options. I've been doing this with my filmmaking kit recently. I now feel that I have a manageable amount of things to get to know and to use should I go to make another film.

  • Take breaks and practice self-care: Give yourself time to rest and recharge throughout the day to maintain mental clarity and energy for decision-making. I regularly take social media breaks, taking sometimes months off at a time. This makes a vast difference to my ability to deal with life. You should consider it too. if you can’t take a month off try taking every morning off or limiting the amount of time you spend on social media.

By incorporating these strategies into your life, you can better manage decision fatigue and maintain focus on your most important tasks and goals.

Take Charge of Your Choices

"When you’re overwhelmed, take a deep breath, assess the situation, and prioritize what needs to be done first. Then, make a plan and tackle one task at a time." Oprah Winfrey

Start implementing these strategies today to combat decision fatigue. Begin with one small area—like meal planning, simplifying your wardrobe, or reducing the time you spend ion social media or YouTube —and notice the difference it makes in your daily life. Remember, the goal is to minimize the mental load so you can focus on what truly matters.

Please check out my friend Stephen's new show the FIGHTS WITH FRIENDS PODCAST 

In next week’s show I'll be looking in detail at The Power of Habit in Creative Success. It's a great way to reduce decision fatigue even further. If you can establish consistent habits for daily tasks, such as eating similar meals, wearing similar outfits, or following a regular exercise schedule, tit will definitely minimize decision-making. Habit is a powerful tool to get into. Tune in next week to find out more.

Don't forget to subscribe and share this podcast if you found these tips helpful. Together, we can navigate the complexities of modern life with greater ease and success. Take charge of your choices now for a more focused and fulfilling tomorrow.

Let me end today with another quote from Isaiah Hankel, who said, "Mental energy is the world’s hottest commodity. People are going to try and steal it, drain it, and suck it up every second you’re awake. Yet very few of us protect it. Very few of us know how."

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shooting, protect your mental energy and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity and Success.

Overcoming Decision Fatigue: Regain Control and Balance for a Happier Life
The Exhausted Mind: Managing Decision Fatigue (Podcast)


Executive Producer at Disruptive Film and Audio Productions Ltd.


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