I swear, I’m not serving frozen pizza for dinner AGAIN!

I swear, I’m not serving frozen pizza for dinner AGAIN!

I’m sure you can picture it, it’s been a long day.  I’ve been working with clients, making decisions about what to do with this, which tender subjects to have them delve into. I’ve chosen which emails need my immediate response. I’ve planned events for next week, ordered lunch, and continued my work day till I find myself staring into the fridge, feeling exhausted.  My brain is frozen, it’s foggy in there, it’s moving much slower through the process of deciding what to pull out of the fridge and whip up for that heathy dinner that kids and adults alike will eat. (haha that’s a challenge even when I’m at my best.)

This brain fog, confusion, which results in a desire to order take out is called decision fatigue.   Social scientist have been studying this for many years.  This basically says that your ability to make well thought out decisions deteriorates the more decisions you make over a period of time.

As a business woman, mom, wife and human there’s not much I can do to avoid decisions altogether.  We all have to pick out clothes to wear, figure out what we’re going to eat, where to send our kids to school, what social media sites to use, what business plan to create and so on.  Everyday we have hundreds of decisions to make and the more choices we make the harder it gets.

But what can we do about it?
Crawl into a hole and hide?

Yes but only for a short while before life demands our attention.

In order to avoid feeling my kids frozen pizza too many nights in a row, I automate, chunk out my decisions, and most importantly take breaks.

How do I do these things?

Well here’s my secrets.

Automate:  

Take away decision making by creating automatic systems so you don’t have to think about it. Automation can be as simple as a routine.  I always warm up the water for washing while brushing my teeth, then wash my hands, take out my contact, wash my face then put on PJs.  You probably already have plenty of automated things you do- some with purpose others with very litttle thought.  Automation works best when you create the routines with thought.  Creating a routine lets you make decisions one time so you have less decisions to make each day.

Chunk it out:

Make a bunch of similar decisions simultaneously, such as meal planning, vacation planning, marketing calendars, etc.  When you choose one subject and focus on it for a chunk of time, deciding what you’ll be doing all week, month or year, things are set and ready to go.  Of course there’ll be some decisions along the way, like which of the types of pasta to buy for the meals this week, but its much simpler than what’s for dinner every single night especially when your brain is about to fall out of your head!

Take Breaks:

Take a break for both your mind and your body.  When you’re well fed you make better decisions, when you’re well rested the same is true.  (All new mothers can attest to the fog that comes from lack of sleep.) But even mini breaks in the day can refresh your mind and ability to make decisions.  So take a walk around the block, lie down and rest for 5 minutes, go fill up your water and talk to someone else in the office (that you enjoy talking to, of course)

And lastly, keep in mind that your toughest decisions should be made at the beginning of the day, not the end.