What you’ll learn in this episode:
Decision-making can take up a lot of our time and energy, especially when there are so many that have to be made at once.
This is decision fatigue.
I’m sure you’ve noticed with all the extra stressors lately, that your decision-making is deteriorating. The energy required to make important decisions is lacking somewhat.
There are a number of things that you could do to free up brain power so that your decisions retain their top quality.
Today, I’m going to detail the steps needed to not only maintain high quality decision-making, but also to structure your life in such a way that you only make the decisions that are absolutely necessary.
Here’s a glance at this episode:
- The more decisions you make over time, the lower the quality of your decisions becomes. Making fewer decisions gives your brain some space to make better decisions.
- Change when you make important decisions. Higher energy = higher decision-making power.
- Decide which decisions to make. Work smarter not harder.
- Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day. That’s one less decision to make every day. It doesn’t have to be a big decision to have an impact.
Mentioned in this episode:
Work/Connect with me:
[00:01] Jessica: Well, hello, everyone. Welcome back to Part 2 of the decision-making podcast series.
[00:07] Last week, we talked about decision-making, and we talked about how we make decisions, what’s holding us back from making decisions, and how do we make decisions more easily and more quickly? This week, we’re going to talk about decision-making from a slightly different angle, we’re going to really focus in on the concept of decision fatigue.
[00:26] I think decision-making for entrepreneurs, and, frankly, for all of us, is a really crucial skill that you need to have in order to move forward in your life and make progress in a way that is easy and actually feels good.
[00:40] Decision fatigue is one of these things that comes up very often for entrepreneurs, and it comes up from the fact that you’re building a business and making decisions is part of the entrepreneurial journey, but I have seen this come up for my clients and in conversations with others much more right now because as we record this podcast, in September of 2021, we are in an unprecedented time of having to have dealt with the COVID pandemic over the last year and a half, and continuing to have to deal with the pandemic, and, thus, there have been a litany of decisions that we have had to make and are continuing to have to make on a daily basis. So, this concept of decision fatigue is now, more than ever, top-of-mind for everyone, and being able to navigate around this and be able to make decisions and make them in a very intentional way, the timing of those things in an intentional way, and deciding about what we’re going to be making decisions about, is, I think, more important than ever.
[01:48] So, to kick us off, I want to jump into, “what is decision fatigue?” For those of you that may have not heard this term before, I wanted to define it for the purpose of this podcast and for all of you. So, essentially decision fatigue is this concept that the more decisions that you make overtime, the lower the quality of the decisions that you make. So, essentially, as you force yourself to make more decisions overtime, the quality of those decisions begin to deteriorate. So, I want to suggest that in order to keep the quality of your decisions high, you need to be mindful of how many decisions, and when you make those decisions, so that you can really be fine-tuning and deciding how you’re going to, and when you’re going to make those decisions so that you can make quality decisions, when you need to.
[02:51] Starting with how many decisions that we need to make, in the last podcast episode when we were talking about decision making, I shared that, on average, adults make 35,000 decisions everyday. This is a huge number. To me, it suggests that there is no time in our day that we are not wracking our brain to make decisions, and most of those decisions that we’re making are on autopilot, because we’ve made them so many times they’re not conscious decisions, but they’re sucking up energy in our brain to make those decisions, even if they’re not conscious. On top of that, we are making tons of conscious decisions, which are taking up time in our day because we are actually deliberating, oftentimes, over those decisions, and we are consciously having to choose different things that we’re deciding, and that is taking up time and energy. So, when it comes to the number of decisions that we’re making, I think the first point to really consider is how can we make these decisions in a streamlined fashion so that we can make them with ease, we can actually make them with ease and in the smallest amount of steps possible.
[04:18] I’ll give you an example of where this came up in my life and how I dealt with it. As I mentioned, we’re in the middle of this Covid pandemic. Decision-making around where can we go, what do we need to be doing, do we need to be masking, what is happening with our kids, can we be traveling, is daycare open? The amount of decisions that we had to make were staggering. For me, personally, I’m a mom of young children. Going to school or sending them to daycare was a big, big piece of this Covid experience, especially as an entrepreneur who’s working from home, my husband also works, how we were going to take care of our children and who was going to be responsible for that, is a big piece of our day. They’re not old enough to take care of themselves. We have to divide our time and energy in order to do that. For any of you who have children or ever been around them, just spending time with children in a litany of making decisions. So, in Covid, we really had to make a bunch of decisions around where they were going to go and what they were going to be doing, and as the pandemic went on, it was constantly changing. I felt like every single time we made a decision, there was another one right behind it as it related to my kids, especially around their schooling – were things going to be open? Were they not? Every time we thought we had made a decision and got to that homeostasis, there was another decision that needed to be made around their schooling, around going to school, around going to daycare. At some point, we got to this place where we decided that we could either keep chasing these decision and making these decisions, and trying to navigate through those, and it was taking a ton of time and energy to really figure that piece out, or we were going to try and streamline these decisions so that we didn’t have to make as many decisions as often and with such urgency as we were around our kids school, going to school, going to daycare.
[06:36] One of the decisions that we made for our family was that we decided that we were going to keep our kids home, and we were going to homeschool them going forward in this year. In the moment where we decided that, which I want to say as a side note dovetailing back to the podcast last week, it was a difficult decision for us in those moments. We really had to sit and think about it. We went through that thought process a lot. I think we actually made a decision relatively quickly and in a streamlined manner, and in a way that felt really great, but it was one of those places when when were standing in indecision and we really had to work through that. When we decided that we were going to eventually keep the kids home and homeschool them, it actually allowed us to drop making so many other decisions. So, when it came to “how are they going to navigate the bus?” Or “how are they going to navigate lunchtime?” or “do they need to wear a mask to school or not? Has the school made a decision about that or haven’t they?” All of those decisions just fell to the ground and we were able to streamline so much of our decision-making because we need one decision that we knew was going to focus in and constrain all of the things that we were going to do going forward. This also really focused in and streamlined so many decisions that had to make about our day and our businesses, and just the cadence of what we were doing, because once we decided that we want to keep the kids home, and then we made the decision on how we were going to support that infrastructure, we were able to then streamline so many decisions about how we were going to go through our day and what that was going to look for us in our businesses, in our meetings, etc.
[08:42] So, one of the first things I want to offer to all of you is: how many decisions are you forcing yourself to make in a day? Are there places in your day where you are unintentionally just pushing yourself into decision fatigue? Not even that you’re doing it on purpose, but you’re really wading into these waters where you are needing to make decision after decision, after decision, on a consistent basis that is causing you to push yourself into this fatigue, and where could you stop right now and pause, and think about “if I just made this one decision, I could streamline all of these other things”? Where could you do that? I’ll tell you, another place where this comes up for me in my personal life a lot is around meal planning. I can’t tell you how revolutionized my life was when I figured out that I could cook things, my husband and I could make a meal, and we could have leftovers for days, and all of those other decisions around what we’re going to eat – gone. I actually did this recently with my children, where we decided to come up with a menu of what they were going to eat for all three meals for the week, and we literally took 15 minutes, and I said we’re going to die right now we’re going to fill out this grid and we literally just filled it in and then it was done, follow the plan for the rest of the week. There were no more decisions. It was the craziest experience. It was like just go to where it’s hanging on the refrigerator door, today it’s Wednesday, it’s lunch, pick it – done. Oh, my goodness, the amount of time and energy I got back from just that one decision streamlining the whole thing. Where in your life are you making tons of decisions where you can streamline them? I will tell you, personally, in my business, with my clients, streamlining their offers, streamlining what they’re going to put out there in their business, making the decision to cut out all these other decisions that they have to make, is life-changing for them.
[11:15] The fastest way I see people make money is: making a decision that they’re going to just decide to do one thing, and they’re going to focus on that one thing, and they’re going to creative around that one thing. That one decision, streamlining that, cutting all those other things out and all those other decisions out – game-changer. So, if you’re listening to this, pause it, and I want you to think, where in your life can you streamline your decisions? Where can you pull yourself out of decision fatigue almost immediately or really dial that back because you’re streamlining the decision that you are making in your life? So, that is number one – where can you intentionally make less decisions.
[12:03] The second point I want to bring up with this concept of when are you making the decisions? Many of us are familiar with this idea that we have certain energy flows that are, at different times of the day, that are better or worse for us to make decisions. One book that I read that totally changed my life and the way that I think about my day is the book, When, by Daniel Pink. I highly recommend it. Run out and get it if you actually haven’t read it. I listened to it on audiobook. I think it’s fantastic – he reads it and he’s hilarious. So, this concept of when you do things, and your energy throughout the day, and how that looks, is also super important when it comes to making decisions, and this concept of decision fatigue.
[12:50] I will share with you that one of the earliest lessons that I had around this concept of when, and when you should make decisions, and how to think about that, I was probably in middle school, and I decided back then, I won’t give you the exact year but you’ll know if you’re in this generation. There was a time when having really short bangs, you know bangs on your haircut was the in thing and I decided I really wanted to cut my bangs, so I got this crazy idea, of course, at 10 o’clock at night, and I decided I was going to cut my bangs, so I did and guess what happened – they were way too short. They really came like the middle of my forehead, and of course you cut them when they’re wet and then they dry, and I was horrified. I will never forget my mother saying to me, “don’t ever make any important decisions at night and definitely don’t cut your bangs at night.” I was so relieved when I went in to school the next day and someone else, unbeknownst to me, had also decided to cut their bangs really short, so I had this huge sense of relief that I wasn’t the only one with really short bangs that were sticking straight out. Horrifying. But anyway, this point of when you make these decisions, and the idea that your energy fluctuates, is really important, so knowing when to make these decisions, knowing how to stagger these decisions so that you have the energy to put toward the most important decisions, and do that in a way that you can then support yourself energetically, and really work within this constraint of decision fatigue. So, with this idea, the more decisions that you make overtime the quality decrease, is it would behoove you to consider what decisions are the most important decisions, and you want to make those decisions first. You don’t want to be making them at midnight after you’ve made 35,000 other decisions in the day, and you’re exhausted, right? So, what are your most important decisions that you can frontload? Whatare those things that you could put in to the front of your day, where you have the energy and you are not lacking in the fatigue of having made so many decisions, that you can make these decisions early and you can make them easily, and you can make with high quality. When can you make those decisions and what decisions can you pull forward? You want to be making your most important decisions early. You want to be really saving that best energy so you can make the most quality decisions around the things that matter in your business, and in your life, the most.
[16:03] The last thing is really around what decisions are you choosing to make? One one hand, it’s how many decisions that you make. Can you streamline the number of decisions that you’re making? It’s also about when you make those decisions and understanding this concept of decision fatigue and working within that constraint, and then the third piece that I think is so important is deciding specifically what you want to be making decisions about, and what maybe you don’t. There are so many places in our lives where we can outsource decision-making to someone else. We can even barter certain things like, for instance, I mentioned on the either on the last podcast around my husband and I making decisions, and we make a very differently, and one of the things that he cares more about and actually enjoys making decisions around, is what we’re going to have for dinner. If we’re ordering out, what things we’re going to get from the menu. I actually enjoy eating it, and I love that he loves to make those decisions, but he enjoys doing that. So, if we’re going to barter something, I would love to give him that opportunity to make those decisions because he loves it, and then I’ll take on something else. I like to get to the nitty gritty about other things that he probably wants to do with. So, where can you really farm out that decision making or where can you literally decide “that’s not something that’s important to me. I’m not going to deliberate or, obviously I’m going to have to make a decision, but I’m not going to deliberate on, or really give it a lot of time and energy, to make decisions about this.” I often see that people, where they spend tons of time deliberating and using up all of their decision energy is, fairly often, on things that don’t really matter, and they’re not moving the needle. Sometimes that’s habitual – we just have gotten to this pattern that every time we do XYZ, we end up thinking it through, researching it, and doing all that, or maybe we just do that with a lot for things, because that’s the habit we got into – we need to research it or learn something more about it, or whatever, that we don’t stop to really think about “is this the thing that I want to be spending my decision-making energy on?” If I have X amount of energy to make decisions, do I want to be spending it on this? Many times, when I’ve asked myself this question, the answer is no. It’s no. Let me just tell you how liberating it is to let it go once you figure that out.
[18:54] So, my first question to you is: what are you spending the most time making decisions on? Do you want to be spending the time making the decisions on those things? If the answer is ‘no’, what do actually want to be spending your time on? This is such a huge question for our business but, even so much broader than that. When we look at where we’re spending our time, what we’re doing our time, and all the decisions we have to make around those things just in a day, and we really look at them and see if they are aligned to the things that we actually want to be making decisions about and spending time on, oftentimes when they’re not and we look at that intentionally and we realize that we can shift that, we are literally shifting our whole life. And this happens a lot. I just want to say, if this is resonating with you and you’re thinking about it you’re like, “yeah, when I’m sitting here thinking about my day, a lot of the things that I spend so much time doing are not the things I actually want to be spending time thinking about and deciding on”,just know you’re not alone. A lot of times, we end up going through our days and even making decisions on autopilot. It just happens, and the wonderful thing about that is we are humans and we just decided we want to do, so we can decide right now and make this decision that we’re going to choose what we’re deciding and what our decisions are, intentionally, and go into our day and totally [inaudible] that, and really create our day in line with what we want. For me, personally, when I really start to think about “where do I want to be putting that decision energy? Where do I want to be spending that brain power, and the decision making power in my day, intentionally?” So much opened up for me. It actually impacted my business in such an amazing way, I really started to look at the things that I was spending so much time thinking about and deciding on, and I started to look at those, and I really critically looked at whether or not they were moving the needle and whether or not they were filling me up, and whether or not those were the things that I wanted to be doing in my business, where they in my zone of genius or not? Once that started to shift, and how I spent my time in my business started to shift around the decisions I was making, I actually had so much more time and even that decision muscle that I was really building, I actually pulled over into my personal life. My ability to make that decision, to support myself and my decision, to avoid that decision fatigue, or make sure that when that decision fatigue is coming, I can make sure it’s on the things that I don’t really care that much about, my whole personal life started to shift to. The way that I spend time with my children, things I could do with them at the time, the things I was choosing to think about in relation to them and my husband, totally shifted. Actually it felt so amazing to be able to think about and make decisions about those things that I never had the time or energy for before, and that was such a gift for me. It was such a gift for me on so many levels. I think when it comes to decisions, many times we have the thought that we have to decide these things, we have to make decisions, I have to figure out how to do this. There’s all this “have, have, have” , like I have to do this, and what I realize is that when I started to embrace this idea of decision fatigue, when I understood that the quality of my questions could change over time, I actually embraced making decisions. It became such a gift that I was able to – I would get to make these choices, I would get to making decisions, and not that I had to do it but that I was able to do it. Today, I’m going to be able to do XYZ thing, and I’m going to be able to decide what I want to do, how I wanted to teach this certain piece of the curriculum in homeschool to my kids, I get to decide if I want to go for a walk or not, or how I wanted to construct my day. It became such a gift that I got to make these decisions because I was choosing which one I actually spent my time on, and I was really frontloading that in my day, and I was really getting intentional with how my energy moved and how I was going to be able to capitalize on on that in a way that allowed me to make the most decisions and to really streamline things that I was making decisions on and work within that decision fatigue. I think this is, like I said, so important for all of us right now because, first of all, we we don’t have these pockets of our life that are in isolation – we’re one whole person. If only I could take my business and my life and put it in a box over here and it would never touch anything else, and it would just live in this compartment, life would be totally different, but that’s just not reality. It’s not. So, we are really in this where we are making these choices and within the current circumstance of our life right now in the pandemic with everything that’s going on, this concept of decision fatigue is more ever-present and, in a crazy way, because so many things have shifted for us, I think the silver lining of COVID is that we have been able to intentionally think about our choices. We have been able to think about the decisions that we make. Even in some ways, we are forced to pause and reflect on those decisions and really decide the things that we want to be spending our time on, the things that we don’t want to be spending our time on, and how we want to even decide how to decide going forward. I think for me, personally, that’s been one of the silver linings of Covid, is that I’ve got to choose my decisions, I’ve gotten to also pause in my business and in my life to decide how I wanted to do that and to move through it in a way that actually, I think, serves me and serves my goals and really is in alignment with the bigger purpose of my life and the reason that I’m in business, and the reason that I do the things that I do.
[25:48] In summary, in order to keep the quality of your decisions high, you need to be mindful of how many decisions you’re making, when you’re making them, and about what you’re making the decisions about. Where can you stop today to look at the decisions that you’re making? Where are you making decisions that you don’t need to make? Where can you streamline those? What can you take out? Where can you really constrain those decisions? What things can you do that are going to take some of these other decisions off the table? I mean, one of the biggest ones I also have heard people talk about is this idea of streamlining their outfits. People get dressed in the morning, it takes a tonne of time and energy. This is the whole Steve Jobs wearing the black turtleneck and black pants all the time – he wore the same thing because that literally took all of those decisions off the table. Deciding you’re going shopping one store or you’re only going to buy food from one store – I’m just going to shop at whole foods. Think of all the decisions that fall away when you decide that. So, where can you constrain? Second is when can you make these decisions? When can you decide that you’re going to take your most important decisions and you’re going to move those into your day with this decision fatigue in mind? Last, but definitely not least, what do you want to choose to really be making decisions around? Yes, we have to make decisions all day long. Clearly. We’re making many of those unconsciously, but when it comes to the conscious choices that you make, what do you want those to be about? If you have a certain amount of energy that you can give to making decisions, what do you actually want those to be on? Those should be the most important things in your business, the most important things in your life, the things that are going to move the needle, and they’re done with the energy that you have so that you can make the best decision possible, and not when you’re hitting that decision fatigue at the end of your day or after you had to make so many decisions over a short period of time or over time that you’re just literally fatigued out from making the decisions.
[28:03] So, if you have listened to this and it is resonating with you, if decision fatigue is something that you are struggling with, especially if you are struggling with it in your business, we want to hear from you. Please go to the link in the show notes and book a call and talk to us. As I mentioned, the 10K accelerator program is something that we are focusing on right now. These topics are the things that we focus on in that accelerator. Decision fatigue for entrepreneurs is real. Because entrepreneurs have to make so any decisions as it relates to their business, and, especially, for solo entrepreneurs, people being able to navigate through this is something that they need to learn how to do, and, oftentimes, they’re struggling with. If you are that person that is struggling with it, we want to talk to you, because we have built this program to help support you in making decisions, in making the money that you want in your business, in constructing the business that you want, but, most importantly, in doing that in a way that feels good and feels like it lifts you up and it’s empowering, and it’s keeping you sustained energetically, and part of that is the way that you make decisions. It’s navigating through the process of decision-making and this concept of decision fatigue. So, you do not need to go through it alone. There are people that are there to help you. We are one of them, and we have baked that right into our accelerator program and we want to help you through that, so do not hesitate to book a call with us. I promise you, you will walk away enlightened and with information about yourself that you probably didn’t know before, and you will have clarity around your next steps, about what direction to go on, and how to be able to make decisions with ease and in a way that is energizing and feels good.
So, with that, I wish you all a beautiful week, and we’ll see you next week. Take care.