Decision fatigue is a term that describes how a long series of decisions can actually diminish the overall quality of future decisions. Many leaders have unwittingly diminished their leadership effectiveness by making too many decisions. This is true whether or not you are a leader. Ego depletion is a related concept that simply means the tireder you get, the less emotional self control you have. In this post I suggest 5 counter balances to decision fatigue.
First, four signs decision fatigue is affecting your decisions.
- You make quick, impulsive decisions you later regret you made.
- You needlessly delay decisions. This is the counterpoint to the impulsive decision noted above.
- You send thoughtless, terse emails.
- You get mad when someone asks you for a decision.
Consider these 5 ways to minimize decision fatigue.
- Make important decisions when you feel mentally and physically rested. Many decisions don’t take much thought time. However, really important ones take our full mental and spiritual capacity. When we’re tired, we simply don’t make the wisest decisions (decision fatigue). So, when faced with an important decision, evaluate if you can give it your best at that moment. If you can’t, delaying the decision may be the wisest choice.
- Delegate many decisions. One tool I use with staff when they ask me for a decision is this. I ask them, “What do you think?” This encourages their own insight and often the staffer will find his own answer which motivates him even more because he owns the solution.
- Don’t make spur-of-the-moment decisions when it creates unnecessary work for you. Often the decisions we make add more work to our plate. When faced with a decision, ask if it will create more work for you. Sometimes the correct decision will require you give more time to the project or the person. Those we should not avoid. However, other decisions may best not be made to avoid unnecessary work for you.
- Sometimes you must gracefully decline when someone asks you to make a decision. If the issue doesn’t pertain to your role, ministry, vision, mission, or values, sometimes we simply need to say,”No,’ to the person asking us for that decision. You can read more about gracefully saying no here.
- Always seek God’s wisdom when you make decisions. James wisely counsels us in James 1.5.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1.5, NIV)
What has helped you make the wisest decisions?