Simple Changes to Decrease Decision Fatigue


How to decrease stress from decision fatigue

Every day, we are forced to make hundreds of decisions – what we eat, what we wear, how we balance our time and how we negotiate in the workplace. It can seem like we spend so much time making decisions that nothing gets done! After a day of making countless choices, we can suffer from the 21st-century dilemma of decision fatigue. The accumulative draining effect that making decisions has on us can have detrimental effects, including on our families, work performance and ability to study.

You are not alone in wondering how to manage stress or identify and deal with it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what we need to understand about ourselves when we experience decision fatigue and what strategies we can implement to stay fresh.

Why decision fatigue can be detrimental

When we make too many decisions, we are left taxed from the mental effort or frustrated by any negative outcomes. The resulting fatigue can lead to two dangerous decision-making habits.

1. Poor judgement

When we are tired, our judgment is decreased. This leads to bad decision making which can affect many areas. For example, you could rush an important work proposal, run late to an important family event, make a poor investment choice or choose an unhealthy option for dinner.

2. Accepting the status quo

Another danger of decision fatigue is that you shut down altogether. Although it can be wise to hold off on a decision that doesn’t have to be made immediately, accepting things as they are can be costly later. Ideally, you want to create enough time to make the important decisions needed in the day to support your personal, work or study life.

How can I fight wardrobe decision fatigue?

Finding the right clothes every morning can be taxing, especially when accounting for varying occasions. It’s common knowledge that Steve Jobs wore the same outfit to work every day to minimise choice – a dark sweater and jeans. It was an easy way to minimise decisions to make during the day. Many successful people have done the same thing. 

Here are some ideas for fighting wardrobe decision fatigue:

  • Create a capsule wardrobe or partake in the Project 333 Challenge.
  • Declutter any clothes that don’t fit, look good or feel good.
  • Create a personal uniform like Steve Jobs.
  • Plan what to wear the night before and wake up with the confidence that your first decision is handled.

How to overcome food-based decision fatigue

Arguably, a stressful and time-consuming task we face each day is deciding what to eat. Mastering this takes dedication, but if you stick to it, your brain will thank you and reap the rewards of less decision-making.

Here are some solutions:

  • Meal plan on Saturday, then shop and meal prep on Sunday. This will help you maintain a nutritious diet throughout a busy week.
  • Use pre-saved online shopping lists or a food subscription service like Hello Fresh.
  • Make large batches of food so you take lunch to work the next day or have leftovers throughout the week.


Beat decision fatigue with prioritisation and delegation

Making decisions is easiest when you are most alert. If you know you have a big day of decision-making ahead, confront your larger tasks first. As the day goes on and you inevitably feel decision fatigue taking over, plan for the decisions you are making to become smaller.

Ask yourself these questions to navigate what decisions need making now and what can wait for later:

  • Do I have everything I need to make this decision? If not, what is missing?
  • What are the consequences if I delay this decision? Permit yourself to sleep on it.
  • Do I have to be the one to make this decision? If not, delegate.

Give yourself more time

Sometimes the best way to get yourself to do something is to leave yourself no choice. If you are struggling to find the time to balance your work life with study or a personal project, then a change to your routine will help you find the extra time you need. Set your alarm an hour earlier to avoid peak hour delays and create extra time for personal endeavours like study or exercise before work.

You’ll find that this is an effective time management plan as it takes you away from any distractions that you would encounter at home.

Overcome decision fatigue with 15 minutes of mindfulness

Having a pause in the middle of your day to be mindful can allow decisions you’re juggling a chance to fall into their correct slots. Break your mindfulness time into two parts:


Whether the decisions you’ve made throughout the day seemed good or bad at the time, your opinion may change when you make time to reflect. Allow yourself to relax and pay attention to how you feel about the decisions you’ve made throughout the day. Understand why you made that decision and take note of what improvements may be necessary for the future.

When reviewing, it’s important not to judge yourself harshly – the goal of this activity is mindful corrections for future success.


Once you have reviewed your decisions, it’s time to let go and allow yourself to focus on what’s ahead. While it can seem wasteful to stop for fifteen minutes, many agree that the best way to continue with your day is to recharge with a guided visualisation or calm breathing. If you want to do a guided session, then look for body scans, grounding or breathing exercises that allow you to release tension. (There are many apps and podcasts you can take advantage of.) It can be useful to keep a journal nearby to jot down your thoughts at the end of the session.

Getting rid of decision fatigue

Overcoming stress created by decision fatigue is no small task, but with practice, it can be done. These techniques require initiative but are realistic, habitual ways for you to make better decisions about things that matter. If making changes seems overwhelming, try implementing one technique at a time, slowly working towards a more efficient and less fatigued you.

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