Do you ever struggle with decision fatigue?
Sprinting around the Farmers market, one hand steering the trolley, doing my best to avoid colliding with the masses of dawdling shoppers, swinging my left hand so that my activity tracker registers my step count, scanning the vibrant displays of produce, shopping list clutched tightly I am suddenly viscerally aware of how energy demanding this supposedly simple task is.
I have a long ‘to do’ list for the day, grocery shopping is just one of the tasks and I’m determined to keep to my schedule. I realise in this moment that the food market is full of distractions. I’m sure that’s part of their marketing plan. This particular food market has a one-way flow. And there are no shortcuts to the check-out aisles.
I know through experience, that if you get halfway round and discover that you forgot to pick up bananas (which feature near the entrance), you have to swim against the stream to back track.
Amongst the cunningly displayed tempting food stuffs there is not only distractions to avoid, there is overwhelming choice.
So much choice equals too many decisions to make, and I’m only shopping for food. Local vs imported. First rate vs seconds. Pick your own or chose a pre-packaged bundle, check use by date, will everyone in the family like this, if I choose this what will I need to accompany it, do I have time to prepare this, which one is the best value for money, …….the choices seem endless.
This constant decision making is a challenging process. No wonder the experts talk about decision fatigue.
By some estimates adults in Western cultures make 35000 decisions a day. Every decision requires time and energy. Ideally, we want to funnel our decision-making energy into important decisions, not ‘waste’ it on inconsequential choices.
The genius of routine and/or habits can be very useful in this scenario. Habits save enormous amounts of decision making. Freeing up mental energy for other activities. The challenge is to ensure that our habits serve us.
Here’s how I’m challenging myself to utilise good habits, build some more and reserve energy for significant choices.
I know that I’m at my most productive in the morning. I’m great at morning exercise. I’ve been journal writing in the morning for over 5 years now. My intention this year is to pursue creative endeavours and important projects as part of my morning routine. Before the inevitable tsunami of emails are checked. Before my mind gets sucked into the vacuum of seemingly urgent demands and energy draining minor decision making chores.
I like the Eisenhower Matrix as a tool to help prioritise time for important tasks. This includes tasks that may not be urgent however action on them is critical for reaching your goals. If you would like to learn more about this handy tool check out https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/
Mostly, decisions we make ‘on the fly’ in the food market are not life defining decisions.
If our decision-making capacity is limited, let’s use it for the important things and use it wisely.
What time of the day do you do your best work?