Give Your Brain a Break: Tips on Minimizing Decision Fatigue

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You make more than 30,000 decisions a day, and around 200 of these are based on food alone. Whether it’s a teeny choice about what shoes to wear to the gym, a slightly bigger decision like which brand of yogurt to buy, or something more life-changing such as when you want to propose to the love of your life, these decisions add up and the more you make, the harder they get.

Your brain is a muscle, too, and just like your biceps on the last rep of a big set of “curls for the girls,” it gets tired the more you work it. This phenomenon actually has its own name: Decision Fatigue.

Basically, the more decisions you have to make throughout the day, the worse your decisions will become, simply because your brain is tired of doing all the hard work. This can affect willpower, food choices and even interactions with friends and family. Your ability to decrease this decision fatigue will ultimately help you become more successful, less overwhelmed and more confident in every single choice you make. But how do you do it? Try these simple tricks:

Make your most important decisions early.

When you wake up in the morning, your brain is fresh and ready to go. Take advantage of this clarity and make big decisions first. Morning is the perfect time to pick a macro-friendly menu item if you’re going out to dinner and might feel tempted later. If you’re meeting a friend for coffee and know that fitting a latte into your day isn’t the best use of your macros, put a coffee with a splash of half-and-half in your tracker ahead of time and stick to it.

Limit options.

Even something as simple as picking between five different shirts in slightly different shades of blue can compound and cause fatigue. Avoid this decision-making altogether by limiting the amount of stuff in your life. If you have clothes you always consider but never wear, donate them to a local shelter. If you’re skimming Netflix, narrow your movie choices down to three then choose from there.

Go simple.

Pick whatever option is simplest whenever possible. If you have a busy week, stick with food sources and meals that are quick and easy, and that you know you love (and can track easily)! This will keep you from having to make decisions about when and what to cook.

Get into a routine.

If you can start making some decisions second nature, you won’t take up any brain power. This could be picking your outfit the night before or planning your workouts for the week on Sunday nights, so you don’t need to decide the type of workout you need to do each day. Find ways to eliminate decisions and give your brain a rest!

Trust yourself.

If you’ve made a decision, stick to it instead of second-guessing your choices. You’ve worked through that choice once, so going back and trying to make it again often lands you in a worse position.

How do you hack your decision making?

Want to keep nerding out on this stuff? Check out:

Habit Stacking by S.J. Scott

Increase Your Impact Podcast Episode 522 with Justin Su’a

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Posted by Ali Macy
Ali is a born and bred Vermonter who fell in love with nutrition and fitness in her early 20’s and never looked back. She is both a coach and the Marketing Director for WAG and has a BA in English Literature and a Master's in Nutrition and Human Performance.

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