Decision fatigue: what it is and 3 ways to reduce it

Our topic today is decision fatigue. Which is exactly what it sounds like: a feeling of depletion that comes from making too many decisions. Video below or scroll down for the text. Highlights:

  • What decision fatigue is
  • 3 tips for reducing decision fatigue
  • An extra tip for overcoming analysis paralysis

What’s the different between minty white and whitening with mint? Why are there 30 different kinds of toothpaste from the same brand????

This morning I wondered what to talk about on today’s video.

After evaluating a bunch of ideas, I had this feeling of tiredness. Already. At 7:30 in the morning!

Ah. Decision fatigue! I’ll talk about that.

In the shower, I started second-guessing myself: “maybe I don’t want to talk about decision fatigue…maybe I should talk about something different!”

This is decision fatigue in action.

Every decision we make takes energy. It tires us out, it reduces our willpower…and leads to bad decision making.

Decision fatigue affects everyone – but it’s especially hard on those of us who tend to overthink, have trouble making decisions and experience analysis paralysis.

Captain Obvious has the solution: reduce the number of decisions you need to make – so you can save your energy for the important ones.

Here are 3 ways to do that

1. Create habits: do things on auto-pilot

Make your marketing as habitual as brushing your teeth

Habits remove the decision entirely. Do you decide to brush your teeth?

I’ve been walking for 4 years – even though I fell off track for about a year – picking it up again was relatively easy.

I no longer “decide” to go for a walk – I just find myself putting my shoes on and going.

Some of best habits you can create in business? Marketing habits.

Do something to promote your business every day.

2. Decide once: create policies, procedures, checklists

Now that I only eat foods beginning with the letter Q – it’s so much easier to decide. I sure hope quinoa stays trendy.

Find yourself making the same decision over and over again?

How do you handle re-scheduling? Payment plans? When a situation comes up once – decide how you’ll handle it – then commit it to policy.

Next time it happens? All you need to decide is whether or not to follow your policy. 🙂

You call also do this in your personal life. 20 years ago, I decided not to eat meat.

This single decision saves energy every time I go out to eat by reducing my menu options in most places to a handful of items – sometimes just one. “Don’t tell me, let me guess. Patty’s going to have the veggie burger.”

Create procedures and checklists. Once you figure out how to do something, document the steps and do it that way all the time.

This way you don’t need to think and remember each step. (Bonus: you also won’t miss any steps!)

3. Create a plan: make higher level decisions all at once

Deciding on a single path removes a whole lot of decisions all at once.

When you choose your course of action ahead of time, you don’t need to make a bunch of individual decisions on a daily basis – you simply execute the plan.

If your marketing plan says that you’re going to directly contact potential clients through LinkedIn and by building relationships – you know what to do each day: go on LinkedIn, find potential clients and reach out to them.

A good plan will make a lot of your decisions at a higher level. By choosing a course of action, you eliminate ALL of the detailed decisions that exist on the other paths.

If your plan specifies “market through LinkedIn” – you won’t be pulled off track trying to decide which Facebook marketing course to take. It’s off the table because it’s not part of the plan.

Of course, for some of us, it’s hard to DECIDE on a plan!

I’m going to do a 30 day experiment to see if I like doing 30 day experiments…

Have analysis paralysis around making a big commitment?

Try a 30 day experiment. Make a 90 day plan.

If you’re a questioner, this will help give you clarity.

Right now I’m halfway through a 6 week Facebook Live experiment.

I know that content marketing needs to be both frequent and consistent. My initial idea was to do a Facebook Live video every day…for forever.

Which is a daunting commitment – especially when I had questions that I couldn’t answer: would I like doing these? Would people respond? How much time would it take?

Thus the experiment. By the end of 6 weeks, I’ll have a LOT more data to work with and I can make a new decision about whether or not to continue.

Summary: reduce decision fatigue by reducing the number of decisions you make

A quick Google search shows a ton of results saying that we make 35,000 decisions per day. (I decided NOT to try to track down the original research. Even if the number isn’t 35,000 – it’s high.)

Decision fatigue interferes with reaching your goals, reduces your willpower and leaves you feeling worn and depleted at the end of the day.

3 ways to reduce the decisions that you need to make:

  • Create habits: execute on autopilot
  • Decide once: create policies and procedures
  • Make a plan: make higher level decisions that make lower level ones easier (or even eliminate them entirely.)