I can tell you how to deal with decision fatigue because I’ve learned from experience. At 6 a.m., the decision-making marathon began: I packed four kids’ lunches, carefully choosing which protein, fruit, and dessert would suit each child. Next, I decided what to thaw out for dinner, when to celebrate our daughter’s birthday, how to solve the conflict of the kids’ soccer practices—and all this before work began. By 5 p.m., when my husband asked what I had decided about the camping trip reservations that needed to be made, I just couldn’t. I’m pretty sure I glared at him and walked away.
As moms, we have to make decisions all day, every day, and decision fatigue is a real thing. So how can we keep going when we reach our limit? How can we keep from losing our temper or crumbling over where to go for dinner? Here are 3 C’s to help you handle decision fatigue.
1. Choose the first thing.
Let go of pressuring yourself to make the perfect decision every time. That’s key to mastering how to deal with decision fatigue. Trust me, I’m talking to myself here. I don’t just want to pick out a good pair of sunglasses—I want the perfect pair. I don’t want to decide on a decent birthday present for our neighbor—I want the perfect present. But this constant search for the “perfect” decision brings me to a point of decision fatigue much more quickly, and there I am, blankly staring at the shelves or endlessly searching online. To deal with my perfectionism, I’ve learned to choose the first acceptable thing I see and declare that it is good enough. Because it is!
2. Create a default.
According to Kendra Adachi, author of The Lazy Genius, you can “decide once” on a lot of things. Make the decision just one time, and later you can trust it and default to that decision for days or even weeks to come! For example, last spring I made a list of 10 meals that my family loved and rotated this list for three months. It took no brain power to do the meal planning and grocery shopping. And you know what? My family didn’t even notice that I had those 10 meals on repeat. You can do this for whatever daily tasks stress you out. It may seem monotonous, but taking the guesswork out of those little decisions will reserve your brainpower and energy for other things.
3. Categorize this decision.
It’s funny how it’s often the tiny decision that pushes us over the edge. One secret for how to deal with decision fatigue is to recognize when it’s happening and put the decision at hand into one of two categories: life-altering or small. If it’s small (and it almost always is), you can see it for what it is and choose with confidence, knowing it doesn’t really matter in the long run. If it truly is big and you are having that much trouble deciding, it’s best to put the whole debate on pause. Plan to return to it later when you are feeling more clear-headed, or you’ve had a chance to ask for advice or pray about the decision.
What’s underneath decision fatigue?
Sometimes decision fatigue occurs simply because of the sheer number of decisions you’ve had to make, and you’re tired. But other times, there’s a subtle fear underneath each decision, poking and prodding. What if I make the wrong decision? Is there’s something better? What if they don’t approve? And fear is the worst kind of energy-sucker!
What helps me silence these fears is to choose faith instead. Do you trust in a power higher than your own? When I trust that God is ultimately controlling my path, and I trust that He’s already seen all the decisions I’ll make in my lifetime, I can breathe again. My decisions don’t have the power to throw God off His plan for me and my family. And when I make a poor choice (and I will, because I’m human), I can even trust that God can use it for good in the long run.
What helps you handle decision fatigue?