Researchers are discovering a growing phenomenon any dedicated shopper knew about ages ago: decision fatigue (check out Roy F. Baumeister's Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength). "It’s that moment when you’ve been scouring the mall for a good price on jeans for your kids, checking mall prices against prices on-line on your cell, and suddenly, something inside you seems to collapse, and you’re in 'Whatever you want' mode," explains Nelson. "You’ve hit a mental and emotional wall. You’ll do anything just to get relief from the overload of information so you end up spending far more than you anticipated on clothes that you’re not entirely sure your kids should be wearing. You’ve fallen prey to decision fatigue."
A typical day in most people's lives involves an unending series of little decisions. Here's some examples. Stop at the yellow light or go through? Pick up the dry-cleaning now or let it go until tomorrow? Check out that article on Google or trust your memory? Program "NCIS" or "Jersey Shore"? Yell at your son to clean his room or forego the fight in the interests of a peaceful morning? Trust the climate control at work or take an extra sweater just in case? Eat a yogurt for lunch to support your GI tract, or eat a salad instead because it has fewer calories? "And then there are the multitude of decisions we make each day at work. The specifics vary," says Nelson, "but there isn’t one of us who isn’t faced with 100 decisions before lunch. And that’s on a quiet, normal day.
"When decision fatigue hits, we tend to make poor decisions," notes Nelson. "We buy too much, eat too much, have an affair when we know we shouldn't, don’t get done what really should get done, and so on. Yet we can’t very well stop making decisions. Our world continues to get more complex, not less."
Nelson offers these simple suggestions to combat decision fatigue:
1. Breathe. Your brain needs oxygen to function properly. Take a moment every hour or so to close your eyes, clear your mind and take a few deep breaths.
2. Diminish the number of decisions you make by being better organized. Make a realistic “to do” list each day, and stick to it.
3. Keep yourself properly fed, hydrated and exercised throughout your day. The brain needs glucose as fuel, but too often, we alternately starve and stuff ourselves. Pace your food intake. Drink plenty of water. Exercise to get more oxygen to your brain. Exercise can simply be getting up from your desk each day and taking a quick, brisk walk for 10 minutes.
"Constant decision making is inevitable,"
For more daily living and career tips, go to www.NoelleNelson.com.
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Dr. Noelle Nelson, career & relationship expert & author of The Power of Appreciation & The Power of Appreciation in Business. For more relationship tips, go to anotefromdrnoelle.blogspot.com, on Twitter or www.noellenelson.com.