Decision fatigue: what it is and how to deal with it

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Joe Dispenza
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Decision fatigue: what it is and how to deal with it

Decision fatigue is mental overload that appears after making many decisions. It occurs when you need to make a thoughtful and informed decision. How can we reduce it?

Last update: October 24, 2021

Decision fatigue is the mental overload that appears after making many decisions. We spend most of our day making decisions. Some easy, some more complex, but always decisions after all. And deciding takes a lot of mental energy.



But what happens when we don't realize we have to make so many decisions? We end up activating the "autopilot", that is decide without thinking, another feature of decision fatigue.

What is decision fatigue?

Let's talk about a mental fatigue that yes it occurs when we are overloaded because we have made many decisions. This causes stress and makes our decisions neither thoughtful nor optimal. A fatigue that we often find difficult to identify.

Also called decision fatigue, it's a concept that has had some success in recent years and has become popular. It is characterized by deterioration and fatigue that lead us to choose without adequate reflection, through an "automatic pilot" that appears due to this mental exhaustion.

This picture is comparable to physical exhaustion, which can be at the center of stress, regrets and behaviors related to procrastination.

Consequences of decision fatigue

Decision fatigue brings with it a number of consequences. In addition to mental fatigue itself, it can cause the following:

  • Difficulty thinking carefully.
  • Make decisions "without thinking" or quickly.
  • Act and decide with the "autopilot" activated.
  • Not being aware of your decisions.
  • Repent of bad decisions.

How to deal with decision fatigue? First steps

There are two key steps that can help us deal with decision fatigue. Once that's done, it's time to learn how to prevent it.



Analyze the decisions to be made

The first step to addressing decision fatigue is analyze all the decisions we have to make. It is important at this point to identify whether it is up to us to make decisions or not. Let's ask ourselves: "Is it my responsibility or someone else's?"

Transfer of responsibilities

If the decisions we "need" to make are not up to us, it is time to report them to the person in question. Let us therefore learn to delegate. We make the decision (the reader forgive the redundancy) not to take on the responsibility of others.

How to reduce decision-making fatigue?

Once we have identified our real responsibilities, that is, what we really need to decide, and once we have delegated tasks when necessary, it is time to reduce mental fatigue. How can we do it?

Establish an order of priority

We have now identified our tasks; it is time to give them due priority. We can transcribe them on paper, in three different columns: "Urgent", "important", "it can wait".

We list all your activities in each of these columns according to their order of priority. This will help reduce decision fatigue because we will start "parking" tasks that are not that urgent, thus reducing the feeling of stress.

Practice self-care

Reducing decision fatigue is not just about identifying the decisions you make and their priority. It also has to do with self-care.

To reduce this fatigue it is therefore also essential take care of your lifestyle habits. This includes eating well (in a balanced way and avoiding unhealthy snacking between meals), getting enough sleep (sleep hygiene is very good) and maintaining a stable routine and schedules.


Who is most likely to suffer from decision fatigue?

People who are in professions where many decisions have to be made throughout the day (especially complex or important decisions) are more likely to suffer from decision fatigue. This includes, for example, doctors, entrepreneurs, managers, etc.



On the other hand, people who tend to ruminate a lot may be more prone to this type of fatigue. Because? Because rumination exhausts them (requires a large investment of energy); if we add to this having to decide, the feeling of mental exhaustion multiplies.

The importance of paying attention

While there are people who are at greater risk of suffering from decision fatigue, the truth is that we can all suffer from it on occasion, or more than once, in a lifetime.


You can prevent it by paying attention to its early symptoms, which usually include mental fatigue, but sometimes physical fatigue as well.

On the other hand, learn a identify our real responsibilities, prioritize tasks, planning our time and putting off less important decisions can help us reduce this mental overload.

And above all, take care of yourself! It will help us to recover the energy to continue working in our daily life.

“Self-care is not a waste of time; self-care makes the use of time more sustainable. "

-Jackie Viramontez-

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