Decisions, decisions… How do you make better ones daily to improve your productivity and avoid overburdening your mind?
Our lives are governed by the decisions that we make. From what we eat for breakfast to who we hire for a new role in your company. There’s a school of thought that your mind only has a finite capacity to make good decisions.
All the decisions we make -- large and small -- throughout the day can tire our brains. This is what’s referred to as “decision fatigue”. As the day goes by, decision fatigue can lead to lower productivity as your decisions become less precise, definitive and speedy. However, the great news is there are ways to mitigate decision fatigue to protect individual and team productivity.
Keep reading to learn how to recognize the leading causes of decision fatigue and strategies to combat it. These strategies can be implemented in your workplace in combination with computer monitoring software, a highly effective tool that helps monitor employees' computer activity and productivity.
Let's get started and find out how to beat decision fatigue!
The Importance of Making Good Decisions, Fast
Quick, effective decision-making has a big impact on how problems get resolved, directions get set and goals get achieved. They unburden the mind and free cognitive capacity for meaningful, productive work. In short, dwelling on decisions for an inordinate time distracts your focus and doesn’t necessarily assure you of a better outcome.
When it comes to decisions, it’s important to focus on the quality of your decisions, not just the speed of them. The ultimate goal is mastering the art of making fast, decisive and high-quality decisions, aided by mental frameworks built over time.
Here’s why it’s important to make good decisions, fast:
- You save time and money. The modern market is incredibly competitive. Making quick and sound decisions is necessary to stay ahead of the competition. Dwelling on making a decision can cost money, too, as competitors have more time to move while your business stays in place.
- It helps keep employees engaged. When trained to make quick decisions, your personnel limit the likelihood of analysis paralysis. And when your decisions at a managerial and organization level are decisive, it gives your staff a clear understanding of your vision and their role in it, which eliminates uncertainty and gives them engagement-supporting direction.
- Quick decision-making increases employee confidence. Empowering your employees to take action through quality decision-making practices and frameworks helps grow their confidence over time. They'll know that they have the mental models to make smart choices on the go without having to overanalyze a situation to make a call.
What Is Decision Fatigue and How Can You Recognize It?
Decision fatigue is a mental state in which a person is unable to make good decisions due to a cognitive overload brought on by a high frequency of decisions.
The primary cause for this state is making too many decisions within a short time, for instance through the course of a work day. When this happens, people tend to opt for the default choice or pick what's easiest, rather than make an effective decision based on the facts of a situation. Or make no decision at all.
While decision-making has no immediate physical effect on your body, it does affect what psychologists call executive function. This system includes problem-solving skills, memory strategies, and self-control processes.
You can recognize decision fatigue from the four main symptoms:
- Procrastination: Putting off a specific task and overthinking how to do it.
- Impulsivity: Making rash decisions.
- Indecision: Being indecisive about any kind of simple task.
- Avoidance: Doing other things to avoid a pending task.
What Impact Does Decision Fatigue Have On Productivity?
Decision fatigue negatively impacts productivity as it can make people avoid problem-solving tasks, postpone work that needs to be done, or make poor decisions that cause bottlenecks.
When suffering decision fatigue, there’s also often an increased frequency of mistakes. And if you have to repeat the same task multiple times, you're simply wasting time.
Generally speaking, it's very common for entrepreneurs and workers to make poor decisions when they're tired, as decision fatigue results in a lack of focus that’s necessary for most business tasks.
How to Support Decision Making to Become More Productive
Implement the following habits in your daily life and work environment to make better decisions and minimize needless decision-making to become more productive. On top of this, consider using some of the best productivity web apps in your quest to eliminate decision fatigue.
The best leaders delegate because they know that it’s a way to exponentially increase productivity and mental capacity. Delegating empowers your team, builds trust between coworkers, and improves professional development.
Additionally, it frees up your time and lets you focus on making more strategic decisions. A key component of delegation is that it entrusts a certain strata of decisions to other team members. This means leaders aren’t burdened with making a hundred minor decisions every day that their team is perfectly capable of making.
2. Use AI to Help You Be More Efficient
Artificial intelligence has great potential to support and take on many aspects of the decision making process. For instance, some AI-powered productivity and organization tools can assist you in making better decisions.
There is a long list of productivity software available in the market, and for a good reason. These programs allow employees to more easily prioritize tasks, removing the need to make as many decisions about what to focus on. As these AI features of productivity applications continue to evolve, they will further support enhanced decision making.
Other apps that incorporate AI, such as Gmail, can now predict your writing and finish your sentences. Another example is AI content writing tools, which can come up with infinite content ideas to minimize the decision about what to write about next.
But keep in mind that AI technology is still in its infancy.
We are yet to see the full extent of how AI-powered tools will help business leaders make decisions easier. The role of AI has great promise. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and further understands human behavior, it has the potential to be an adjunct to the human mind that improves our ability to make good decisions and relieves us of the need to make insignificant ones.
3. Minimize Unimportant Decisions
Lowering the number of decisions you have to make reduces decision fatigue. An effective way to minimize the number of decisions you have to make is to eliminate unimportant decisions. For instance, prepare the clothes you'll be wearing before going to bed, or have a set wardrobe each day. In this way, you won't have to make any clothing decisions when you wake up that can instantly start eating away at your finite decision-making capacity.
The same applies to food. Make your food a day before and fill up your food containers. By doing so, you won't have to dwell on what to have for lunch. Making these minor adjustments may, on the surface, seem trivial. But reducing the number of these small, relatively inconsequential life choices helps to improve productivity by warding off decision fatigue.
4. Limit Your To-Do List
One way to stay away from decision fatigue is to limit the number of tasks on your to-do list. With a lower number of daily tasks, you don't have to make a lot of decisions - you just focus on what matters.
Getting your team to adopt this approach, too, can spur team-wide productivity, so it’s not just you who’s focused -- it’s everyone. To track how well your team prioritizes their work, you can use computer monitoring software. It’ll enable you to track your employees' workloads, tasks and projects, and monitor employees' computer activity to understand their productivity and focus.
There are many pros and cons of employee monitoring, but automating employee tracking means one less thing on your to-do list. Simply put, it simplifies decisions related to how your team is performing, the resources they need and project management.
5. Develop a Routine or Habit
Our brains have finite resources. We're limited when it comes to the number of decisions we can make in a day. Automating certain tasks and routines can remove wasting energy and making extra, unnecessary decisions that cause us to lose our concentration and ability to focus on work.
A good example is a workout regimen, a reading habit, or any other activity requiring a decision. You can easily waste an hour considering whether you should read a book or do a workout. But when it's a habit, you go and perform the activity without ever questioning it.
In the context of work, you can develop a routine of only checking your inbox at 8am and 5pm, so you don’t have to decide to do so. It also saves you from having to make countless reactive decisions in response to emails you read throughout the day.
That's why habits and routines are so powerful. You can automate parts of your daily behavior in a way that preserves mental capacity by minimizing decisions.
Productivity and Decisions Are Inseparably Linked
If you're focused on productivity, optimizing your decision making processes can have a significant impact on it.
Start small by creating routines, removing unimportant decisions, and simplifying your daily to-do lists. That'll take the pressure off your mind and lower the daily number of decisions you have to make.
Then take more sizable steps toward better decisions with delegation and technology. Consider using computer monitoring software to help monitor employees' computer activity so that a focus on better decisions becomes a core team-wide initiative.