Death by Decision Overload

How many decisions do you think you make a day? 50, 60? From deciding whether to hit snooze or not, which outfit to wear, hair up or hair down, silver hoops or gold studs, fruit and toast or cereal and yogurt, I’m sure we’ve made at least 100 decisions by the time we head out in the morning.

Now, what about when you get to work? Hundreds more, in fact I’d bet thousands more. The number of decisions we have to make each day is never ending (and exhausting)! By dinner time, the idea of deciding one more stinkin’ thing drives this girl straight to a glass of chardonnay.

Oftentimes, you don’t even realize how exhausted your brain has become, fallen victim to the overwhelm of so many choices day in and day out. Decision fatigue is a silent robber—it steals your mental energy and, over time, wrecks havoc on your productivity. See, when the amount of decisions we need to make gets too big, it can actually paralyze us into non-action.

Sound familiar? Next time you start to feel the load of choices starting to choke you, here’s a few tips to keeping it all together:

Be alright with “good enough”

Did you feel that?! I just give you permission to stop agonizing over making “perfect” decisions. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, worrying about making the perfect decision just leads to more stress, while accepting a “good enough” decision activates a part of the brain that makes you feel calmer and more in control.

So give yourself a break and learn to be okay with ‘okay.’  The quest for perfect usually means we haven’t even taken the first step. As a sort of mini-mantra, I find myself saying “Done is better than perfect” over and over again. You should try it. 

Make Habit a Habit

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
—Brian Tracy

You probably don’t have to think about how to drive every time you step into your car, or how to log into your computer when you reach your desk. That’s because these are habits, things you’ve done hundreds of times. Doing habitual activities puts you into autopilot mode, which means that your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to decide what to do.

Start creating good habits to lessen the amount of stressful decisions you need to make each day. Here's a couple I do right out of the gate to get my morning off right:

     1.  Choose your clothes. Walk into your closet right before bedtime and pick out your next day’s outfit. At the bare minimum, narrow it down to 2 things. I guarantee this 60-second action will save you stress (and multiple outfit changes) in the morning. Or you can 'Steve Jobs' it and save even more stress...just wear a black turtleneck and jeans every single day.

     2.  Pre-make your lunch. Me, I love salad in a jar. It's simple and fast and kept me from eating crap at work because I didn’t have the time to pack a lunch. Having a routine around food is one of the easiest ways to lessen your stress, especially if you battle making bad food choices like I do.

Trust others

In the beginning of this solopreneur adventure, I was doing everything myself. Writing, designing, researching content, marketing, business development, editing videos, you name it. I had hundreds of things to do which meant hundreds of decisions to make.

Then I had the brilliant idea to get a bit of help (I know, seems obvious!). I outsourced my web design. I got some help with social media and content. I brainstormed with other trainers and coaches on business challenges. My decision to get help was more about me trusting someone else than it was about finding the right person to do it. I finally learned to trust.

“Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”
—Isaac Watts

I can’t even tell you what a difference it’s made. Having less to deal with means that I have more time and brainpower to work on the most effective, impactful things for my business. As I handed off chunks of work, a whole slew of decisions I needed to make went away too. Maybe for you this means hiring a tutor for your child or ordering Blue Apron meals once in a while.

Kick busyness to the curb

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
—Socrates

Last week I talked about how busyness is the death knell of effectiveness. And this is coming from a gal who jam packed her calendar for years! Remember, busyness does not equal progress.

It’s true, after all that time I finally realized that no breathing room means no time for my brain to relax and recharge. Part of the overwhelm we feel with so many choices to make each day can be reduced by scheduling in a little down time.

Hit the gym, go for a run or spend a couple hours at iSpa. Whatever you makes you feel more relaxed, those activities are critical to keeping you sane.

Friends, being exhausted from decision overload seem just to be part of life. You might not be able to escape making so many decisions, but you certainly can do something about reducing it.

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