Episode 136: Decision Fatigue

7 Essential Decision Fatigue Solutions

Decision fatigue is a real thing… one I’m sure we’ve all experienced. Being able to identify when this is happening is key to getting in front of it.

In fact, recently I faced this as multiple life events, business projects, team and client scenarios all compounded, demanding my attention and requiring decisions from me. 

The more decisions I made, the more difficult the next decisions became, and eventually I had a backlog that was holding up my team, that was draining my mental energy, and I was feeling stressed.

It’s not the first time I faced decision fatigue, so I recognize those signs. And if you’re feeling stressed, unproductive, and impulsive, then decision fatigue may be at play for you.


In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • The importance of identifying when you’re feeling decision fatigue
  • 7 decision fatigue solutions
  • Examples of how I used these solutions at a recent photo shoot

Being a business owner is a rewarding but demanding role that requires making numerous decisions on a daily basis. However, when the volume of decisions becomes overwhelming, it can lead to decision fatigue. Now, this is a state where the quality of decision making deteriorates. I have personally experienced decision fatigue many times, I'm sure you have as well, and I know fully well what it feels like to experience the impact on productivity and just how I feel in general. In fact, recently I faced this as multiple life events, business projects, team and client scenarios all compounded, demanding my attention and requiring decisions from me. The more decisions I made, the more difficult the next decisions became, and eventually I had a backlog that was holding up my team, that was draining my mental energy, and I was feeling stressed. From all of the day-to-day decisions to the high-stakes strategic choices, that cumulative effect of everything was really draining me. It was really impacting me. And that along with the decreased productivity, feeling impulsive rather than strategic, helped me to realize what was happening. Those are telltale signs for me. It's not the first time I faced decision fatigue, so I recognize those signs. And if you're feeling stressed, unproductive, and impulsive, then decision fatigue may be at play for you. So if that's the case, listen up. Now, at the time that I was feeling decision fatigue, I had an upcoming photo shoot. And I want to put this out there that while photo shoots themselves aren't something I typically struggle with or they're not something that caused a lot of stress. There were a lot of decisions that needed to be made about the photo shoot on top of everything else that I was dealing with and it just felt more overwhelming than normal. And so I'm going to use some examples from the photo shoot and the decisions that I needed to make related to the photo shoot, as I go through and share some practical strategies to overcome decision fatigue, okay? So these are all real examples. These are real strategies that I've used, and I think the photo shoot is just a great example. This doesn't mean all photo shoots are stressful. Again, it's just the fact that I had so much going on that compounded. The photo shoot just happened to be in the midst of all of it. So the first thing that I've done and that I recommend that you do when you're feeling decision fatigue is to delegate decisions. You need to identify which decisions you can delegate to someone else. You're going to want to seek input and recommendations from your team. If you can't fully delegate the decision, they can at least give you some recommendations and allow them where possible to make decisions completely with Dynance. Delegating decisions not only lightens your load, but it's also going to empower your team to take ownership and contribute, which is something I definitely recommend no matter what. Whether you have decision fatigue or not, delegating decisions is a great thing. In this case, There are a few ways that I delegated decisions. For example, I relied on my photography team to select the locations for the shoot. They give an option for us to select them or for them to select them. I let them handle that completely. I also, when I started receiving questions from models around their outfit choices, I sent them my brand guide. I actually had a team member send them the brand guide so that they could see the colors to choose from. And I just stayed out of it and trusted that if they brought several outfits, we would be good to go. So I delegated that, didn't even bother there. At the same time, on the personal side, I delegated several decisions to my husband, to my kids. I stepped out of anything that wasn't necessary in the moment and made sure that I was freeing up my mental energy to make the important decisions. Okay, so I delegated all of the decisions that I could. The second thing I did was determine real timelines and then prioritize. So you need to evaluate the urgency and importance of each decision that needs to be made, distinguishing between anything that's self-imposed, because we all give ourselves these deadlines and they're really not real deadlines, they're self-imposed deadlines. And then there are those that are firm constraints. They have hard deadlines that can't move or shift. I differentiated what was a real deadline versus what could be pushed, and I adjusted accordingly. That meant that I made some decisions about the upcoming photo shoot that were really not as big of a deal, but pushed decisions about an event for clients that was a few months away. There was no reason that I had to make those decisions before the photo shoot. We had them in a project plan, so they came up and they were ready for me to make according to that schedule, but that was a self-imposed deadline. We had flexibility and I was able to push that to the next week. So I waited until the photo shoot was done and then I tackled those decisions. This approach allowed me to focus on the most critical decisions, the most pressing or urgent decisions, and alleviated some unnecessary pressure. So I definitely recommend evaluating timelines to see what's a real timeline or not and then prioritizing accordingly. Third, Remove variables and simplify. When you can automate decisions or simplify decisions, you can significantly reduce decision-making fatigue. I want you to identify areas where you can eliminate choices or automate routine decisions. So I'm gonna give you a couple of examples here.

I always order Panera for lunch on photo shoot days. I order the same thing every time no matter what. That's just my go-to lunch to order on photo shoot days. So there's no need to look at all the options, look over the menu to decide what I need to eat, plan how to get the foods, because they'll deliver, like we just always do the same thing. So automating that decision meant that I never have to make that decision again. You can do this with many decisions in business. You can decide 1 time for all of the scenarios that are similar in the future, okay? The second thing you can do to simplify is making 1 decision that reduces the options for the next series of decisions or it simplifies things for you. An example here with the photo shoot. I needed a minimum of 15 outfits for the day. I chose this time to wear 1 pair of pants and 1 pair of shoes that I could wear for nearly all of the outfits.

I had a few dresses that I saved till the end, but all of my tops, all of the blazers that I packed could work with that 1 single pair of pants and shoes, so I wasn't changing all of that. I will tell you that early on, I changed out every single aspect of an outfit. I would change out my shoes. Sometimes they wouldn't even be seen in the photos. I would change out my jewelry for every single scene to be different, and I just learned over time most of that doesn't even matter. Just changing out my top is enough of a difference to get a different look and feel and to get a good variety. Okay, so I make that simpler for myself. That often meant that I could just swap out my shirt right where I was. I didn't have to go find a restroom to change in because I could have on a tank top underneath and then just literally change my shirt wherever we were and keep shooting which led to getting more photos as well. Okay so there's a little tip for you. Overall the goal here is to again remove the number of variables, simplify, automate wherever you can to make the same decisions over and over again and make it simple for yourself to make future decisions, okay? The fourth strategy is evaluating the cost of an alternative decision. Sometimes a decision seems like the right decision for 1 reason, but then you need to really evaluate the alternative cost, okay? What I mean by this is consider the consequences and trade-offs of a different decision. Assess the potential benefits and drawbacks, both short-term and long-term. So I'll give an example here. 

When choosing accommodations for where I was going to stay for the shoot, the shoot was out of town, I weighed the lower cost of 1 option for where to stay against the convenience of a hotel located near the shoot's first location. At first I was tempted to book the 1 that was a lower expense and yet I began to evaluate the impact of that location on transportation, on my time, on overall ease and I ended up opting for the nearby hotel to optimize my schedule and reduce all of the challenges that logistically would have come up. There's a lot to carry when you have to have 15 outfits and props for a photo shoot and so the fact that I could stay in the hotel that was literally right next door to the first location, which was more than half of the day of the shoot. Plus that meant my car would be parked right next door because they had a parking garage and they had a valet that I could use to bring the car to me and to park the car when I was done with it meant a lot less carrying of all of that stuff and especially in a busy downtown location sometimes parking garages are blocks away. So I evaluated the cost of the alternative decision and opted for the 1 that made decisions in the future easier, that reduced stress, right, in the future, okay? Fifth is self-care. When you're feeling decision fatigue, you need to recognize the importance of taking care of yourself. You need to step away, rest, engage in activities that are going to recharge you. This is all essential. So for me, an example of this was despite having unfinished work, I decided to prioritize self-care by checking into the hotel.

And instead of working, I ordered room service, I read a book, and I just enjoyed a peaceful evening in my hotel room alone before the day of the shoot. Remember taking care of your well-being enables you to make better decisions in the long run. I always feel so much better after taking some downtime. By not forcing myself to try to get things done that evening, I felt so much better the next day, and I was more productive when I did come back to my work a few days later. Okay, sixth is confirming your motivation. What I mean by this is that when decision fatigue sets in, it's crucial to examine your motivation and ensure that decisions are based on facts rather than thought errors or impulsive feelings. During the photo shoot, fatigue made me consider skipping the location for the last scene. It was further away, we were near the hotel already, and this 1 location was going to be more than a 30-minute drive in 1 direction and then back just to capture a handful of shots on the shot list. Okay? I was very tempted to just skip it completely, but by objectively assessing the situation and weighing all the facts I realized that I didn't have to sacrifice a last scene and that I could also not drive 30 minutes. So I realized there was actually another option. I didn't have to completely skip out on the last scene and cut it from the shoot. I could just change the location to something nearby. And in fact, when looking at all of the facts, that would provide more variety without sacrificing our goals. Because rather than going to another coffee shop, there was actually an incredible outdoor space where we could get a different vibe. And then also we'd have that shorter drive back to the hotel. So win-win all around. Motivation wise, I really was feeling tired. I was really ready to wrap up the day but in the moment when I looked at my motivation.

I made sure that I made decisions not just based on impulsive feelings but what would work best long term and the facts of this situation okay. Number 7, last but not least, get decision support. Don't hesitate to seek support from someone that you trust who understands your vision, your goals, your values. Whether it's a friend, a family member, a team member, maybe a mentor or a coach, discussing decisions with someone else can provide valuable insights and alleviate pressure to have to make all of the decisions alone. For me, I had a few critical strategic decisions that I needed to make around the time of the photo shoot. And so what I did was I booked an extended one-to-one strategy session with a trusted mentor of mine to get another perspective and to get feedback on the decisions that I was leaning towards making. Having that outside support, that decision support is so incredible because it helped me see a few things that I wasn't considering and also gave me confidence that I was on the right track. So that's a really powerful move for you if you're feeling decision fatigue, leverage decision support. All right, As a business owner, decision fatigue is an inevitable challenge that can impact your effectiveness and your overall well-being. But by recognizing the signs and implementing these practical strategies such as delegating decisions, determining timelines, removing variables, evaluating alternatives, practicing self-care, confirming motivation and seeking decision support. You can counteract decision fatigue and make better choices.

So when you're feeling decision fatigue, come back to this episode. Use the strategies that I've shared. I know that they've helped me and I know that they will help you. Decision fatigue isn't something that you have to suffer with. You can use these strategies to alleviate the stress and to set yourself up to make better decisions.

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