Why We Can Only Make a Certain Number of Decisions Per Day


Do you ever get the feeling after a busy day at work or running around after the kids (or both!) that if you’re asked to make another decision, your brain might just explode? Even deciding what’s for dinner can seem too hard. Well, it turns out that feeling is a real phenomenon — and it’s called decision fatigue.

According to experts at Florida State University, decision fatigue is the reason so many normally logical, rational people end up making silly snap decisions. Our brains lack the mental energy needed to go through the convoluted decision-making process, so they start taking shortcuts instead. Either we make a rash decision (because it’s quicker), or we fail to make any decision at all.

A series of controlled trials took place with participants in a series of decision-testing situations: grocery buying at the supermarket, bargain hunting at shopping malls, and weighing which car to buy at a car dealership. The evidence was easy to see: We have a finite amount of brain space dedicated to making decisions — so use the brainspace early on for the decisions that matter. Try introducing a few “non-negotiables” into your weekly schedule. If your Saturday morning yoga class is a non-negotiable, or Sunday brunch with the kids, the decision is already made for you!

Five Tips to Help You Out

1. Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings.

2. Tackle your big tasks in the morning.

3. Have the same breakfast every day, and organize your lunches in advance.

4. Have a “work uniform,” so you wear the same outfit every day, or a “work week” collection of five outfits you wear every week. 

5. Set up regular appointments to exercise at the same time every day or week.

This article was originally written by Now to Love editors. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.

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