Did you eat that bowl of ice-cream before going to bed last night that you’re now regretting?  Or send a text to that certain someone late at night that, oh well, you really should NOT have sent?  What about firing off a scathing email to a business associate, friend, or family member that you wish you could “un-send”?

I’ve done all of these.  And regretted every single one.  (Except the ice-cream…)  Why does it seem that as the day wears on, we make worse and worse decisions?  Because its true!  This phenomena is called “decision fatigue”, and if you don’t do something about it, you, your team, and your business will suffer.

Think of it this way:  You start every morning with a piping hot, delicious cup of “decision-coffee”.  As you sip from this cup of delicious decision-coffee, it starts to cool down and slowly disappear.  By the afternoon its pretty cold, however, you may have about one-third of decision-coffee left.  You may pop your cup in the microwave to heat it back up and drop some more milk and sugar in it, but it still isn’t as good as it was in the morning.  Around 4:30 or 5 PM, your decision-coffee is either all gone or only the dregs remain.  Yuck.

That’s decision fatigue in a nutshell.  We only have a finite amount of daily decision making prowess in us, and as the day wears on, we don’t make as good of decisions as we could have made earlier.  To combat this, here are five simple secrets you need to know to handle decision fatigue:

5 Simple Secrets to Combat Decision Fatigue

  1. Automaticity:  Stick to a morning routine.  Know what you’re going to wear the night before, eat the same breakfast, take the same route to work, etc.  This “automaticity” helps you stock up vital decision-making fuel by not wasting it on mundane choices.
  2. Morning Magic:  Make big, important decisions in the morning — you’re fresher in the morning and your heavy decision-making lifting should be done then.
  3. 3 x 15 Rule:  Limit choices you will decide from to three.  Less than three does not give you enough good options to choose from.  More than three choices gives you too many.  Set a 15-minute timer when making a decision.  Many times you won’t need 15-minutes.  And of course, sometimes you’ll need more than 15-minutes.  The simple act of setting a timer will subconsciously help you to make decisions in a more timely fashion.
  4.  Shhhhhh:  Kill distractions.  Put away your cell phone, close your email program, and remove yourself from any distracting surroundings such as an open work environment, coffeeshop, or other noisy public space.  By limiting distractions, your decision-making reserve does not get depleted as fast.
  5. Eat:  Do NOT make decisions on an empty stomach.  Research shows that we all make better decisions when we are not hungry.  So, if it is 11:45 AM and you’re STARVED, wait until after lunch until you make that next big decision.  

If you and your team want to improve your ability to make great decisions, and thus, expand your leadership, then start implementing these five simple secrets right away.  You’ll reach a level of peak performance through superior decision-making skills that will make you the envy of your office!  Otherwise, you’ll be left with the dregs of cold, yucky decision-coffee.  

Take Action NOW:  Step 1 — What is one decision you’ve been putting off making?  Step 2 — Look at the clock.  What time is it?  Step 3 — If 10:30 AM or earlier, re-read the five secrets above, set a 15-minute timer, and jump into decision-making action.  If after 10:30 AM and you still have plenty of decision-making fuel in the tank, follow the same steps.  If not, schedule time for tomorrow morning to handle that decision you’ve been putting off making.  I promise, you’ll do great!

If you would like to hire Michael Veltri to speak to your audience about how to make better decisions in their business and personal life, email angela@speakernow.com or click here for more information.

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