How to avoid making decisions

decisionsYou and I are constantly making decisions, from what (or where or when) to eat, what to wear, when and how to finish this project, what to write about – the list goes on and on. And I don’t know about you, but I am worn out mentally.

I want to share with you something I tried this weekend that I think is going to work for me to reduce the number of decisions I have to make during a typical day. And it started with a homework assignment.

As part of the Brave New Year course (affiliate link) that I am taking from Chris Brogan (and I admit it’s one of the best courses I’ve taken), we are learning ways to overcome our fear and lead braver lives. But it’s not as simple as flipping some kind of magical switch and “boom” we are brave.

No, it takes a lot of hard work and self-examination, as well as quite a bit of habit-building. I began what I hope will become a new habit this weekend.

Chris shares with the class how exhausting it can be to be constantly making decisions, then challenges us as homework to choose five areas of our lives in which we experience “decision fatigue” and develop some ways to overcome that.

What an eye-opening exercise! The simple act of thinking through those situations in my life where I have that “oh this again” kind of feeling was overwhelming. There were more areas than I realized, and some which I would guess you share. Seeing that number, it’s no wonder I’m worn out mentally all the time. And when my mind is tired, I absorb less information, I avoid making other more important decisions, and generally become less effective as a leader and a person.

Ever have one of those days when you’ve been working hard, and you come home to the decision of what to have for dinner, and you become paralyzed by the decision? And that can lead to making unhealthy choices if you don’t have a plan.

Or have you had to stay up too late to finish laundry or do those errands that you forgot you needed to do and for which you didn’t plan ahead?

This weekend, I put some things I place to counteract that decision fatigue, make me more effective and  help me become better at focusing on those things that require mental sharpness.

  • Weekly review – Friday is my rest day from running/exercise, so I am deciding to spend Friday morning (when I’m fresh) on my weekly review to examine all the open loops in my life to make decisions for the next week.
  • Meals – Part of the weekly review will be to plan meals for the week and create a grocery list in Evernote.
  • Clothes – I hate deciding what to wear every morning – so I will take time on Sunday afternoon to plan the outfits for the week and make a list in Evernote (and make sure all are ironed and ready).
  • Blog topics – I will spend time the last week of the month planning my blog calendar for the next month. I will schedule a day near the end of the month to take a walk and take pictures for inspiration. If needed, I will schedule time during the month to take additional pictures based on the topics I choose.
  • Errands/chores – it is sometimes difficult to schedule the regular errands/chores around appointments on my calendar. So on Fridays, I will look ahead and schedule regular errands or chores around the commitments currently on the calendar.

At first, this will involve putting a LOT on my calendar, but that seems to be my way to make sure things get done. I need the reminders popping up to keep me on track. In time, I expect it will become more natural, and I won’t even have to think about it anymore.

I already feel lighter since when I get ready this morning, I don’t have to stand in the closet mulling over options – I have something picked out already. And I cooked yesterday so I have meals for the week – no standing there with the fridge door open searching for food. I guess I didn’t realize how I dread making such simple decisions, but when you couple that with all the other commitments in my life – it is just too much.

The true test, of course, will be in several weeks, to see if I have managed to create new habits. Sharing this with you holds me more accountable, though, so I suspect I’m on the right track.

So now I want to ask you – how do you avoid decision fatigue in your own life?