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HOW TO STOP MAKING BAD DECISIONS

Think about it. Do you feel tired at certain times of the day? look at your work load, roll your eyes and wish the day was over. To push on can lead to bad decisions or emotional decisions that are not thought through. If you are in business for yourself this can be costly.

DECISION FACTS

  • Did you know the average person makes 35,000 decision a day? – 227 of those decisions on food alone.
  • As your responsibility at work and at home increases, so does the choices you are faced with every day.
  • A child with no responsibilities makes on average 3000 decisions per day.
  • Simple things like what to eat, clothes to were, what to buy, what we believe, how we vote, how we spend our time, what we say and how we say it. No to mention the thousands of decisions needed each day to govern our children, all lead to “Decision fatigue.”

THE EFFECTS OF DECISION FATIGUE

According to research, there seems there is a limit to the number of good decisions people can make in a day.

I laughed when I read that Steve Jobs, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg all are known to reduce their choice of clothing down to 2 outfits to limit the number of their decisions made in a day. It sounds crazy to me, but there is scientific evidence that supports that when you are “Decision tired” everyone is afflicted with the following symptoms, which I like to call the Zombie Effect.

  • Have a reduced capacity to make trade-off decisions

A trade-off of two choices is an advanced energy-consuming form of decision-making. Once you are mentally depleted, you become reluctant to make trade-offs or become inclined to make bad decisions. When tired, a late afternoon trip to the supermarket can cause more decision fatigue with poor people rather than the rich. Because each purchase requires more mental trade-offs in regard to their financial limitations. By the time they get to the cash register, they have less willpower to resist the impulse buys at the cash register.

  • Decision avoidance

Happens when you have reached your quota of decisions made for the day. This decision avoidance technique is subconsciously used to bypass trade-offs and often leads to a default decision which is just keeping the status quo. (In other words, no decision is made). This makes me think that politicians suffer from BIG TIME decision fatigue.

  • Impulse purchasing

Supermarkets are very aware of decision fatigue so they place candy and snacks next to the cash registers to take advantage of this. I don’t know about you but if I shop in the afternoon on an empty stomach with a list of 5 items I need. I always walk out with more than double of what was on my list, even when I cannot afford to. The extra is usually junk food or stuff I don’t really need. When I get home and have a cup of tea and a break I often think to myself “Why the Hell did I buy that? I have 6 of those in the cupboard.” But I was too tired to remember.

  • Impaired self-regulation

Decision fatigue also leads to personal and social problems such as

  • Bad debt
  • Underachievement at work or school.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Lack of Impulse control. An example of poor impulse control is people in high office often fail in their private lives due to decision fatigue, by making disastrous decisions at home after a long day of decision-making at work.

One research study in Wikipedia found that the decisions Judges make are strongly influenced by how long it has been since their last break. “Finding that the percentage of favourable rulings drops gradually from 65% to nearly zero within each decision session, and returns abruptly to 65% after a break.”

This is kind of scary if you are innocent of a crime and the Judge is too tired to make a decision that will affect the rest of your life.

ME PERSONALLY

I did not know anything about decision fatigue, but in reflection, I have to admit that I am sharper in the morning. I work quickly and get more work done between 6 am to 12 noon. Later in the day, it is normal for me to make irrational trade-offs in the decisions I have made.

I feel exhausted just thinking about all of this. Could it be that all of these decisions we make each day effectively stop us from reaching our goals in life?

After all the research reading I have done on this subject, I am frighteningly aware of how much Decision Fatigue I am suffering from. So, perhaps those crazy people who have lists for everyday decisions are not so crazy after all. Perhaps that is why they are high achievers because they have routine decisions on paper so their choices are pre-made. Leaving them mentally sharp to make the big decisions about their business or careers.

HOW CAN WE MINIMISE DECISION FATIGUE?

By setting up a daily schedule for different tasks, we can

  • Sit down and think about the times of the day when we are mentally sharp. Then schedule all the big life-changing decisions for this time.
  • If you do not work for yourself and it is not possible for you to manage this, then develop a “Pros and Cons” list to help you to make better decisions late in the afternoon. This way you can minimise tired or emotional decisions.
  • Make a set routine for everyday activities to minimise your decisions.
  • If your work situation is in rostered shifts. Delegate decisions to the next shift manager with a list of decisions you did not have the time or the mental energy for.

If you are involved with something like accounting. I bet if you check the work done from the previous day while you were tired, you will find mistakes that normally you would not make. Unless you are self-employed or live in Spain, Power Naps or Afternoon Siestas are frowned upon. (The Spanish are so wise about this kind of thing) Work schedules will minimise bad decision-making.

I know I suffer from all the decision-making side effects listed above and I am going to make a daily schedule of mundane decisions to free up my mental exhaustion. What I used to call my “Nanna Naps” I am now going to call my incredibly important “Power Naps” to increase my decision-making ability.

Do you suffer from poor or impulsive decisions too? or am I alone in this and quite crazy?

I would love to hear what you think about this subject.