How to Avoid Decision Fatigue: A Technique for Better Decision-Making

Last updated: November 21, 2022 4 min read

Think about all the decisions you make daily, both minor and significant. It is estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions daily.

Now imagine the cumulative energy it takes to make all those decisions. Can you see why you become so exhausted by the end of your day?

Did you know that successful business leaders make fewer trivial decisions daily? They do this to optimize their cognitive decision-making power.

Based on proven studies, they have found out that the brain becomes exhausted over time, having to make many decisions daily, especially after taxing activities like preparing your taxes or reading a dense report.

So, spending less time making insignificant choices, like deciding what to wear or eat in the morning increases or reserves the brain's power to make more meaningful and important ones.

The theme here is a term coined as ‘decision fatigue.’ According to Dr. MacLean, a psychiatrist, it is “the idea that after making many decisions, your ability to make more and more decisions over the course of a day becomes worse.

These decisions, however mundane some may be, take time and energy to make and thus deplete us or cause mental and emotional stress, also known as ‘ego depletion.’

As a busy founder or leader, you may make more decisions than the average adult daily, thus being a victim of this type of fatigue.

The capacity of your brain to make well-thought-out decisions is limited, and scaling back on trivial decisions can help you manage this power well.

In this article, I will reveal to you a simple technique many successful leaders use to preserve their cognitive powers for more meaningful decisions.

But before that, let us look at how decision fatigue may show up in your life.

What Decision Fatigue Looks Like

This type of fatigue can manifest itself in several ways. Here are some common ones:

1. Impulse buying

2. Inability to make decisions, think clearly or focus

3. Feeling overwhelmed by options

4. Frequently procrastinating

5. Avoiding tasks that require decision making

6. Migraines, poor sleep pattern, tiredness

7. Feeling dissatisfied with your ultimate choices

Routinize your days, Routinize your life

Believe it or not, we all have daily routines that we practice, whether profitable or not. What you always do first (consciously or not) when you wake up in the mornings and what usually follows afterward can be considered a routine.

What happens is that over time this routine comes naturally without you having to think about it, thus sustaining your capacity to make better decisions for more essential tasks.

The point I am trying to make is that making fewer decisions is the key to crushing decision fatigue.

Having a routine for any and everything helps to declutter your brain and enables you to decide on a thing in advance instead of in the thick of the action. When a routine you have established becomes second nature, it actually means less work for your brain.

During routines “the brain can almost completely shut down. … And this is a real advantage because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else.” — Charles Duhigg, Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Even the 44th president of America, Barack Obama, routinized his life. In his own words, from an interview with Vanity Fair Magazine, “You'll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can't be going through the day distracted by trivia."

When you start by establishing routines for your days, you ultimately routinize your life. The return on investment for this not only improves how productive you become but also the general quality of your life.

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How to cultivate a daily routine

Some things to consider when trying to create your own unique routines for both personal and professional life are:

1. It is important to consider your priorities. What is important to you now and what can wait until later? Which tasks are less essential and which ones require more of my focus and attention?

2. Organizing your tasks will help you to see where most of your time and decision-making are invested in.

3. Use a smart daily planner for more tedious tasks that require more brain power

4. Try to maintain the same routine for your mornings, what you eat daily, your workouts, and what you wear if possible. The less time and mental energy you spend on these trivial tasks, the better.

5. Schedule a time for each task you have organized.

6. Include extra time intervals between tasks for unforeseen occurrences.

Using a smart, daily planner

One of the main advantages of using a smart planner to routinize your tasks is that it makes suggestions based on your activity and preferences.

So instead of you getting worked up mentally about what tasks to carry out, the planner decides for you, saving you valuable time and energy.

A smart digital planner in your arsenal would be the perfect tool to completely organize your day into routines by efficiently compartmentalizing everything for you.

Obligations like preparing ahead would be a breeze as you would be provided with a comprehensive view of tasks and meetings in the weeks and even months to come.

Less time and energy would be invested in deciding how to manage your files and data and you will not have to struggle to remember things as it would be your personal assistant, taking care of the mundane responsibilities so you can focus on more important ventures.

Additionally, the stress that comes with backing up or losing important data is eliminated with a digital planner. It basically does the heavy lifting in decision-making for you, leaving you more organized, less stressed, and burned out.

At Vineforce, we built a smart digital planner designed to help you cut down on "trivial decisions" by suggesting things to add to your day based on what it knows about you, allowing you to capitalize on owning your mental capacity/stamina for better things.

If this sounds like something you may be interested in, click here to sign up today.


Your brain can take only so much and no more when making decisions.

Structured routines/practices over time make it easier for the brain to operate on autopilot, so less 'fuel' or brain power is used up for simple repetitive tasks so that you won't become fatigued and have more stamina to make more substantial decisions.