Most of us want to do our jobs well. Unfortunately a lot of us are putting ourselves in positions where we are forced to make decisions at times when we are not thinking as clearly as we should. We fall prey to Decision Fatigue. This happens when our deliberate brain system (see earlier posts on brain systems 1 and 2; Automatic and Deliberate) is tired and we then make poorer decisions than if our brains were well rested and fed.
Here are four strategies four combatting Decision Fatigue:
- Take regular breaks from tasks. Don’t go more than 90 minutes (and preferably shorter) working on a task before taking a break. Imagine you are a Formula One race car. You are speeding around the track and leading the pack, but if you don’t regularly make pit stops, you will literally run out of fuel and you risk damage to your parts. The same goes for your brain.
- Make decisions when your brain is at a peak. This means, don’t make decisions at the end of a grueling, long meeting. Rather, take a break in the meeting and make the decision after the break. The same holds true with your eating cycle. Make decisions when your blood sugar-level is stable, not when it is too high or low.
- Schedule breaks between meetings or tasks. In line with number one above, your brain needs rest. Going from one task to another to another is just asking for Decision Fatigue. Instead of scheduling back to back meetings that last 60 minutes each, why not try scheduling the meetings for 55, or even better 45 minutes. Be effective in the meeting, and then take a short breather before the next one.
- Allow time for reflection. Try using some of the time during your breaks, between meetings and, most importantly, at the end of the day to reflect on what you have just done. Try using the mnemonic DATE help you reflect on what you:
- Have Discovered
- Have Achieved
- Are Thankful for
- Have Experienced
Good luck and let me know how it works :-)!
Inspired by, How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life, by Caroline Webb.