decision fatigue

Decision fatigue -- the phenomenon of making poorer decisions after long decision-making periods -- is a huge productivity pitfall. Essentially, your mental energy deteriorates after making decisions all day. Judges suffering from decision fatigue might rule against prisoners up for parole, while a shopper at the grocery checkout line might break down and buy a piece of candy.

Read on for a handful of ways to inhibit decision fatigue to protect your productivity at work.

  • Make important, expensive or mission-critical decisions first. It isn't always possible to postpone a decision until the next morning; to inhibit decision fatigue, tackle the toughest items and issues first.
  • Avoid back-to-back meetings. Expend all your mental energy at meetings, and you'll have none left when you return to your desk.
  • Recharge throughout the day. Snacking wisely and emotional refueling are essential for long-term productivity; another way to recharge during the workday is through brief meditation sessions.
  • Get perspective on your goals. It's much easier to prioritize decisions when you have a firm grasp of your team's goals and expectations.
  • Recognize when you're mentally tapped out. Self-knowledge is an effective productivity tool; in terms of inhibiting decision fatigue, a good defense is sometimes your best offense.
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