Is it just me or does it seem like everything in our lives and businesses just gets more and more complicated?
Picking our Internet provider, figuring out the latest social media platform, or navigating the endless food choices available to us means we're constantly bombarded with choices and decisions to make.
All of these things not only use up our time, but they use up our mental energy. When we use up too much mental energy making decisions we deplete our mental resources causing us to either make poor decisions or to avoid making decisions all together.
This might explain why we know what we SHOULD do, we might even know exactly HOW to do it, but we still don't. For example, many people know that they should exercise, and they even know how to exercise. Then why do they find it so challenging to actually do it?
Decision fatigue is likely the hidden culprit.
This can be even more intense for entrepreneurs who spend the majority of their day making decisions in their business. They typically don't have a boss or large team to pass decisions off to, and therefore experience greater decision fatigue as a result of the work they are doing.
Yet, things don't seem to be getting simpler in our society (or our businesses) any time soon, so if we want to make smart decisions, and show up for the things we know we should do to move our businesses forward then it's crucial to put steps in place that support us in doing that.
My best tips for preventing decision fatigue are:
1. Pass off unnecessary decisions
Are there decisions in your business that would be better delegated to someone else? We often think that we have to make all the decisions in our business, but there comes a point where the cost of making more decisions becomes greater than the cost of passing those decisions off.
For example, can you give your assistant the reigns to make small decisions that don't need to come to you? Not having to approve or decide between things like graphics, images, etc. can minimize your decision fatigue but make sure things are still moving forward.
Take inventory and see where you're making necessary decisions in your business and where you're spending too much time making unnecessary decisions that could be passed off.
2. Create smart habits
Habits are crucial for avoiding decision fatigue and still getting done what you need to get done. Habits minimize the fatigue because they take away the decision. This allows you to get things done without exerting unnecessary mental energy deciding if you should complete that certain task or how you should complete that task.
What things need to happen in your business every single day and how can you make them habitual rather than decision-based?
For example, if I know that every day in my business I need to reach out to one potential new client then I'd want to make that a habit that happens at a certain time of day with a certain process rather than having to make several decisions about that task each day.
This not only ensures that the right things are getting done each day, but it also ensures that you're expending less mental energy on the process, and can devote more mental energy to the specific task.
I created a 21 day habit tracker for exactly this purpose that you can download here.
3. Notice when you're likely to get into decision fatigue and plan accordingly
Recognizing that decision fatigue will occur if you're over-extending your mental energy is so important. We're not invincible. We have to be aware, and notice when we're likely to find ourselves in decision fatigue.
For example, if you know you've made a ton of decisions all morning then it might be time to minimize decisions for the afternoon and save them for the following day. You know that if you're in decision fatigue mode you won't make great decisions, so be smart and notice when decision fatigue is likely.
It's most important in your business to make the best decisions, not the quickest decisions. More often than not a decision can wait until the following day, so always be willing to wait until you're in the best mental state to make a great decision, not a fatigued decision.
4. Recognize that life and business decisions aren't separate
We can't compartmentalize our life and our business as entrepreneurs. The decisions we make in our business affect the decisions we make in our personal lives and vice versa.
If we can minimize the personal decisions we're making we can function more effectively in our businesses. What personal decisions can you make easier or can you pass off to others in your life?
Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are famous for wearing the same clothes each day to minimize decision fatigue. Many high-performers eat the same meals each day to avoid wasting precious mental energy on food choices.
It's so powerful when we realize all the places we're dedicating our mental energy that are unimportant.
For example, I pass off a lot of decisions to my husband when I'm in major business growth mode and making a lot of decisions each day. That means he needs to decide things like what mattress we're buying or where we're going to dinner on Saturday night.
This may seem silly, but it allows me to still get things done while putting my mental energy toward the decisions that are most crucial. Once we start to realize how much our daily personal decisions impact our business we have tremendous opportunity to tighten those up and work much smarter (not harder) in our businesses.
5. Get support
Having support for big decisions that can be very fatiguing, or little decisions that can waste mental energy is crucial. That might mean a business coach or mentor to help you make it through big decisions, and a virtual assistant or additional support in your business to make little decisions easier.
Being willing to ask for and receive support in our businesses is one of the keys to success. No one can run and scale a successful business on their own without being in constant decision fatigue. That means making less effective decisions, not thinking them through completely, and often choosing the path of least resistance.
There comes a time where our decision fatigue will cost us more in our businesses than the cost of hiring support. You want to make sure you're getting the support you need before that scale tips, so that your business can continue to grow and be successful.
Bottom line: decision fatigue is a very real (and potentially costly) issue in our businesses. Being able to identify it, take steps to mitigate it, and make more effective decisions is crucial to your success as an entrepreneur.
Don't forget to download my 21 day tracker to start minimizing decision fatigue and creating serious results here.