Episode #241: DECISION FATIGUE
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You are listening to episode number 241 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about decision fatigue. On to the episode.
Today’s episode is brought to you by my Inner Circle membership. And let me tell you guys, it is getting good inside the Inner Circle. So let’s talk about what is the Inner Circle. There are three levels of membership. $10 a month gets you into the Inner Circle and what’s available at the $10 a month is a monthly live Q&A, you get access to the Inner Circle group, you also get access to the resource library that I’ve started to build out, and you get a peek into the day in the life of what I do. Basically, every single day I give you a walkthrough of what I do almost every single day during the week so you can get a feel and a glimpse into what it’s like for me to handle a day job and run the businesses that I run. Level Two unlocks cool bonuses like a monthly co-working session. It happens on a Sunday afternoon or evening, a Boss Girl Creative mug, and also a template library, and masterclasses are going to be happening soon. And for every three months you’re subscribed at the Level Two membership, you will receive a complimentary one-on-one 30-minute coaching session with me, and it’s $25 a month. That’s Level Two. And then Level Three is for those that want to actually advertise to the Boss Girl Creative community. You have advertising through the website and through the podcast and through the newsletter and through the Facebook group and all the other things available in Level One and Level Two. So you don’t want to miss out. The Inner Circle is getting good. Pop over to bossgirlcreative.com/innercircle to join today.
Hey everybody, welcome to Episode 241. I am your host, Taylor Bradford. Welcome to the podcast. I’m excited that you’re here, that you pressed play. Before we dive into this week’s episode, which is all about decision fatigue. But before I do that, let’s do the community member spotlight. And this week, I’m featuring Rhonda Franz, and you can find her at rhondafranz.com. That is spelled R-H-O-N-D-A-F-R-A-N-Z.com. You can also find her over at Instagram under the same name @rhondafranz. Rhonda is a freelance writer and copy editor, and she’s going to be your best friend if you need her to do one of those things for you. Because she does her work, which is composing clear, creative content for your story, site, and brand. She handles edits on existing content, and she fixes misspelled words and takes care of that pesky punctuation so you can actually do your work. Go find Rhonda, go say hi to her. She is going to be your BFF as a copy editor, and a writer, and she’s an awesome human. I’ve known her for several years now. Rhonda, thank you so much for supporting the Boss Girl Creative community. And for being a longtime listener. I love your face. And I’m so glad that you’re here and you guys go say hi to Rhonda. Again over on Instagram @rhondafranz.
Alright, let’s talk about decision fatigue. Have you heard of it? Do you know what it is? I know you’ve probably heard of physical fatigue. That’s something super common, and we all kind of know what that is. But have you heard of decision fatigue? Let me give you the definition. It’s the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions after a long session of decision-making. Now, in a nutshell, that doesn’t mean we’re sitting in an office, and we’re in a meeting, and the meeting’s going on for four hours. I mean, that can cause decision fatigue. But ultimately, decision fatigue is you constantly making decisions throughout your whole day, and then getting to the end and just being exhausted because you’ve made so many decisions, and then your decisions become poor decisions because you are so tired. The lack of energy and focus leads to making poor decisions, that is decision fatigue, and you feel out of control. Like you stop doing the things you need to be doing and making the decisions you need to be making when you’re that exhausted, when you’re that tired, when you have a lack.
So I found an interesting statistic here. This is from Rescue Time, and it is a service that they provide that helps you kind of capture back some of the time that you might be squirreling away. And this has been a conversation that I’ve continued to have with you, which is also something that’s interesting in my own world because I’m time blocking and trying to capture back some of that time that I need rescued. And anyway, so this stat from Rescue Time, they analyzed over 225 million hours of working time back in 2017 and found that the average user of their product switched between tasks more than 300 times per day, solely during work hours. Y’all that is staggering. Three hundred switches between tasks just during the workday. That’s crazy. Talk about squirrel moments, talking about not being productive, talk about not making progress, talk about like all the things if you can imagine If you were to actually sit down and write out your day, like, I want you to physically do that for a day and see how you do, and write down everything that you do and at what time and how long it takes you, and you kind of see, it’s probably going to be staggering, just like that statistic that is so crazy. But unlike physical fatigue, which we are very consciously aware of, decision fatigue happens without us actually noticing it. You get to the end of your day, and you’re like, Where did the day go? I did nothing. What did I actually do? Like, I will have those days where my best friend will be like, so what do you do today? And I’m like, I don’t have any idea. No clue. And you don’t feel productive. You don’t feel like you moved your business forward. And my word of the year is to build, and if I’m not working on building something, I’m wasting time, and I don’t need to be wasting time I need to have super, super focus. And we all need super focus. Now we’re human duh. But oh my gosh, if we can just cut down on switching that many tasks, like today, for example, when I was working, so I’m still functioning through this time blocking and it is working. It helps me get the structure and helps me stay focused. But sometimes I can run off the rails, and the lines get blurred between a work block and a break. And I’ll run right through both of them. And when I really need to be focused on a specific task and then actually physically take a break from that task. Decision fatigue doesn’t just come from too many choices, though. When your willpower is limited, poor choices just might be around the corner if your focus is out of whack, poor choices are going to be just around the corner.
So how do we solve this? How do we limit this decision fatigue? I’ve got eight tips for you. And we’re going to dive right into those eight tips. So number one, you’ve got to simplify the choices that you make throughout your day. And I say this with a lot of love, because this isn’t easy, and it can be quite monotonous. And if you don’t like to be a square peg in a round hole, this might be a challenge. It’s sort of a challenge for me. So, for example, same work uniform. It’s no wonder why Steve Jobs always wore the same thing. It was one less decision he had to make. President Obama did the same thing. He either had a navy suit on or a gray suit on. Two decisions. A very quick one at that. Same workout clothes, same breakfast every day, same lunch every day, same dinner every day. Working from the same place every day, following a very similar routine every single day or the exact same routine every single day, having a weekly meal plan. Choosing simple options to cut down the overwhelm and that decision-making process. Simplify those choices. Make it easy on yourself. Set out your clothes the night before, so you’re not having to figure out what it is that you want to wear the next day or when you wake up. Simplify the choices you need to make throughout your day. Make it easy on yourself so that you’re not stacking up those decisions on yourself. You just have to pick the battles that make sense. So if fashion is part of your world, okay, so you know you got to look cute. But if it’s not a big thing, do like Steve Jobs wear the same thing, the same thing. When I am in the wedding world, and I’m on an event I’m in black, I always wear black, and I typically always am in some kind of a jumpsuit, whether it is in the summertime or the wintertime. That is my go-to uniform. It just makes it simple for me, and I don’t have to think about it, and it looks nice. Figure it out, simplify it. In order to be successful, you have to cut off one of your burners. What does that mean? James Clear. He’s got this four-burner theory. Imagine your life like a four-burner stovetop. You’ve got family in one, friends in one, health in one, work in one. In order to be successful, you have to shut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off two of them. Simplify things for yourself. Pick your battles. If you want to eat healthy every single day, eat the same thing every single day so that you don’t have to make a decision in a crunch time.
Number two: Set your most important priorities for the earliest part of your day because that is when you are the best at making decisions. You’ve had a well-rested sleep, hopefully. And there’s not the pressure of all the things happening in your day. And you get to the very end and man, you got to make this big decision. You got to complete this big project, or you have to mark off this thing off your to-do list. Put those things at the very start so you have the capacity to handle them and make the decisions you need to make so that you can move forward.
Number three: Focus on momentum and not your willpower. Chain similar tasks together so you build a momentum so you can keep going. I like how Ernest Hemingway worked. So he would always finish his writing day, mid-sentence. And this is what he has to say about why. “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day, you will never be stuck. That way, your subconscious will work on it all of the time.” That’s so incredibly genius. Stopping mid-sentence because you already know how to finish the sentence. Your brain will get you there when you pick it back up. Stop mid-sentence. Stop mid-project. Your brain already knows what to do, and it will keep working behind the scenes so that when you start again, you know exactly what you’ve got to do. It’s genius.
Number four: Lock in big decisions when your motivation and willpower are high. Most of the time, that is in the morning or right after lunch when you’re keyed back up.
Number five: Use the power of the afternoon nap. I used to do this all the time when I worked full time as a personal trainer in downtown Dallas. I had really, really long days and up at four in the morning, drive an hour to work, and have the first client at six in the morning, and I’m working until seven or eight o’clock at night and then repeating the process basically four to five days a week. It was exhausting. I crashed at about two o’clock every afternoon for a nap. I had to. I could not function without it. Especially when you are in a people service industry, when you have to be on all of the time, it is really hard for an introvert to recoup her batteries when she has to be on that much, when I had to be on that much. So I brought an egg crate foam mattress thingy, and I was either rolling that thing out in my car or on the floor of my office, depending on whether or not my officemate needed to work during my nap. I had my pillow, I had my blankets, and I had to have a nap. And I’ll never forget because there was a conference room that got that wasn’t used in the afternoon that it was called the Eagle’s Nest and I would go sneak in there, and they had a PlayStation, and I would bring Pirates of the Caribbean movie and pop that DVD in and just fall asleep to that movie every afternoon, like clockwork so that I could sleep. Like that background noise just really helped me. So random. I know, but I was really, really, really sad when they renovated the facility and I lost the Eagle’s Nest. So then I had to start sleeping, taking my naps on the floor, because before there was an actual loveseat that I could curl up on. But naps are a thing, and as long as you don’t sleep too long, it can be super beneficial for you.
Number six: Don’t make big decisions when you are hungry. It’s the same reason why it’s not smart to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Those are poor decisions. When you’re hungry, it’s poor. It’s terrible. There’s a reason why you don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Same thing, don’t make big decisions when you are hungry. There’s just other things going on in your world and in your body that’s pushing you to maybe making a rash decision because you are hungry.
Number seven: Aim for good enough and progress, but not perfection. I know we strive to continue to push our businesses forward. I know how badly we all want to get to the next level, but we can’t be perfect. We can’t wait until the thing is all wrapped up and pretty, and you can put a bow on it before you launch something. You just have to get it out there. That’s why a lot of coaches say, “Listen, do a beta program, build it as you go, open up your sales cart before you even have the thing built.” There’s a reason they say that because if we wait for it to be perfect, it will be too late, or we’ll waste a bunch of time waiting on it to get perfect. Aim for good enough and progress, not perfection.
And number eight: Remove your distractions. So you can use that program that I mentioned at the very beginning that did the study, Rescue Time. They didn’t sponsor this, but there are things out there that you can turn on your computer that can keep you focused if you are lacking focus. And when you start lacking focus, you start potentially making really bad decisions. And maybe not necessarily bad decisions like they are negative with an outcome, but you’re making decisions irrationally. Or maybe you’ve got too many tabs open. I’m not kidding before I sat down, I looked at my computer, we went and watched a movie, and I sat back down to my computer to check something, and I probably have 20 tabs open. Now I make a joke and say that’s how my brain is organized because sometimes truly, that is how my brain is organized. But having that many tabs open is a distraction. It is a super distraction. And so it is a work in progress for me because my brain doesn’t work all the time the way it probably should and that’s from a car accident. But I shouldn’t have 20 tabs open at the same time. That just is kind of dumb, but work in progress. We’re all a work in progress.
So decision fatigue. We have to be more mindful of the things that we’re doing in our day. And I think the best way for you to become aware of what those things are is to actually write it down. Think how lawyers build their time they bill in 15-minute increments, and they have to keep track very specifically of what they do in those 15 minutes because that’s how they bill their time. So let’s all pretend over the next week that we’re lawyers, and we’re going to build our 15 minute time, and I want you to write down what is happening in those 15 minute time blocks. What are you actually accomplishing? How can you remove the distractions? How can you put your top three priorities of the day at the very start of your day so you can get them knocked out when you are the most refreshed and have the best opportunity to make really good decisions because you don’t have decision fatigue at the end of the day? How can we obliterate decision fatigue? We just have to be more mindful of what we’re doing in our day, and how we’re making decisions, and how many decisions we’re putting on ourselves to make.
So I’m going to keep talking about this time blocking thing because it is a life-giving thing for me. I have my workout blocked in. So now I’m waking up at seven, and I work out Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. But on Wednesday and Friday, I’m still up at seven, and on the weekends, I’m waking up earlier than I, I typically do, but it’s not quite seven. But it’s a routine, and I need that routine. I need that structure to give me kind of the outline for my days. So now I’m working out in the morning. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts. It is something I’m doing. It’s in my schedule. It’s a decision I don’t have to make. I already scheduled it. So I already know what I’m doing without having to think about it. And I know on Mondays that I have five work blocks. Mondays are my longest day of work, and then it gets shorter from there. And I know that I have breaks and I know when I say, set my day up on Monday, or I set my day up on Sunday the night before, and I look at my week, and I know what my priorities are for every single day and I know what I have to get accomplished. And I know what is super important and what’s not quite important and what deadlines I have to meet. Like all of that, if I can wrap my brain around that on a Sunday afternoon or a Sunday evening, and I can look at my whole week’s schedule and know what is coming up and what’s important, I can then set myself up for success, and I take away a lot of those decisions that I would be making in a day. I take them away because I’ve already made the decisions before I get there. That’s what time blocking can do for you. I’m telling you, it’s a game-changer. Now, again, 90 minutes might not work for you. Like I mentioned last week, Pomodoro Technique is 25 minutes of work, five minutes of break, and then you repeat that a couple of times, and then you take a 30-minute break. Whatever is going to work for you, that’s what I want you to try. Take away the 300 decisions that you make on a daily workday and shrink that down to 10 or shrink that down to 25 so that you’re setting yourself up for success, and you don’t fall into the trap of decision fatigue, because it’s exhausting. And then we make bad choices. And then, yeah, let’s just stop doing that.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode again, shout out to this week’s community member spotlight which is Rhonda again, go say hello to her @rhondafranz over on Instagram. Visit her website, rhondafranz.com. I will be back next week with another episode of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Until then, I hope you have a great rest of your week.