Understand Decision Fatigue

It’s important to be aware of what state of mind you’re in before tackling a hard choice.

Decision fatigue happens when the mental energy required to weigh the tradeoffs of our decision becomes too much for us to handle. 

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Problem Solving

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

Jim Taylor

"The bottom line of decision making involves determining which potential decision will offer the best possible outcome based on what we know now."

Milton Friedman

"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas and subsequent actions."

You might think you need as much information as possible before you’re able to make a choice, but too much research can hurt as much as it helps.

Gathering too much data and asking for too many opinions can lead to mental overload, analysis paralysis, and ultimately making the wrong choice.

  • Select from only a handful of lunch options that you rotate each week.
  • Use a shipping service to get common items like paper towels directly to your house.
  • Consider asking the wait staff for dinner recommendations so you don’t have to stare at an overwhelming menu.
  • Connect the apps you use and automatically move information between them.

Before jumping to a conclusion, think about the long-term consequences of your decision.

We may respect those able to fling themselves into a hard problem and make a quick choice with seemingly little thought, but making a meaningful decision needs to be done with care for the long-term effects.

The power of the outsider comes from escaping the cognitive biases we all fall victim to. 

Main benefits:

  • Reducing your overconfidence about what you know.
  • Reducing the time it takes to make the decision.
  • Bringing light to our thinking errors.

Psychologists call this phenomenon Counterfactual Thinking and it describes how we dwell on the outcomes of actions we didn’t actually take.

At a certain point, you need to trust you’ve put in the thought and work to make the right decision and just commit.

Perhaps the easiest way to make sure we can face a hard decision with our full attention is to simply make fewer decisions.

Think of people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama, who limit their wardrobe choices to a few staple pieces, in order to save mental energy for important decisions.

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RELATED IDEAS

Nudging involves gently coaxing someone into a decision or behavior. The successful nudge is one that results in the desired choice or behavior without the person realizing any external influence.

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IDEAS

Organizational noise and decision making

Organizational noise comes in endless streams of information and communication. At the individual level, there is internal noise, which manifests from our biases, fears, and competing priorities.

Take daily breaks from the noise by engaging in meditation, exercise, and play.

When you consider your decisions, are you motivated by desire or fear?

  • If you are motivated by desire, you will tend to see the positive in every situation. You are motivated by goals and rewards.
  • If you are motivated by fear, you are motivated by something negative, like consequences for not doing something.

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