Making a decision requires a thoughtful analysis of the options, calculating the various likelihoods of results, weighing the pros and the cons of each, and determining the most favorable risk-reward scenarios. It’s hard mental work. And when done constantly on a daily basis with higher and higher stakes, it will inevitably lead to fatigue.

The specific kind of fatigue known as decision fatigue can make it difficult to make even the most mundane of choices. It can boost stress levels to unhealthy levels and cause you to become nervous and irritable. You need to make sure you don’t fall victim to decision fatigue, otherwise, your colleagues might find themselves asking how to deal with difficult people at work.

To combat decision fatigue, we can’t simply stop making decisions. For the vast majority of us, that just isn’t an option. But we can keep an eye out for the signs of decision fatigue and take measures to mitigate its negative effects.

Whether it’s easy ways to combat decision fatigue in your job search or in your actual job, in this short article we’ll be taking a look at some of the more common symptoms of decision fatigue, how to prevent their onset, and what can be done about them once they’ve surfaced.

Common Signs of Decision Fatigue

Knowing is half the battle. And when it comes to decision fatigue, we need to understand what we’re dealing with. As far as identifying symptoms, they will differ from person to person. This is because what we need to be on the lookout for is any aberration or sudden change in behavior. Depending on the behavior you usually exhibit, this will determine to what extent the following symptoms should be alarming to you.


There comes a point – a breaking point, if you will – when making a decision becomes too tired that we simply abandon the process. Instead of carefully weighing the options, we simply act on a whim. While there is nothing inherently wrong with acting on a whim, when it is not the customary way you make decisions, it could be a sign of decision fatigue.

Indecision, Avoidance, or Procrastination

Avoiding a task or putting it off for later can be symptomatic of many things. These behaviors can also be accompanied by denial as we might put off one task and tell ourselves that another is more pressing. However, this might also be a way to justify or mask the fact that we are avoiding a task.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Naturally, if we want to mitigate the negative effects of decision fatigue, the best course of action is simply not to get them. That’s easier said than done. But there are a few guidelines we can observe to decrease our chances of being affected by decision fatigue.

Respect the Boundaries You Set

No one can work 24/7. That simply isn’t feasible, and even attempting to approach that kind of a work schedule would certainly not be healthy.

Set clearly defined boundaries of when you work, when you are available to others in a work capacity and stick to those boundaries. You may think that you are increasing your productivity by increasing the number of hours you put in, but that is not always the case. Your productivity will definitely suffer if you push yourself too hard. For the sake of your productivity and your mental and physical well-being, don’t overdo it.

Take Time for Yourself; Listen to the Silence

In just the same way as no one can work 24/7, so is it that no one can be available 24/7. Everyone’s individual needs differ. But we all need some time to ourselves, time to reflect, time to recover, and time to recompose.

Pay attention to your moods and how they are affected in relation to how much alone-time you give yourself. Find the right balance that works for you then make sure you respect it.

A little bit of silence goes a long way. Make sure to find time every week when you are not subjecting your brain to stimuli (especially of the auditory variety). Give yourself time to enjoy the silence and let your brain recharge.

Get Your Sleep

How to get Deeper Sleep and Stay Well Rested

Getting a good night’s sleep, every night, is important to both our mental and our physical health. You may feel that you are wasting time and being unproductive when you sleep. But the truth is that you are recharging your batteries, sharpening your mental tools, and preparing for another day of productivity.

Without this important step, you would be completely ineffective. When you sleep, you are not losing time. You are increasing your potential to be productive down the line.

How to Minimize the Symptoms of Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue will slow you down. It will decrease the speed at which you analyze data and the speed at which make decisions. When you try to push back and speed things up despite your fatigue, you will most likely make things worse. Instead, embrace the slowness.

Embrace the Slowness

Embracing the slowness means understanding that you are starting to feel the effects of decision fatigue and instead of fighting them – often a losing battle – you make your peace with the new cadence your mind is working at. The slowness won’t last. But trying to fight it off will most likely make it persist much longer than it otherwise would.

Simplify, Become More Demanding

The easiest, less stressful thing you can say when faced with a decision or an option, is to say ‘no’. If you said no to every decision that you were confronted with, you would never feel the effects of decision fatigue. But saying no all the time simply isn’t an option. However, when you detect symptoms of decision fatigue, you can increase your demands. You can set a higher standard that would elicit from you a yes response.

By raising the standards, you sill more quickly and more easily eliminate options. You will eliminate many small decisions that might otherwise be difficult to make. With a higher standard, the line in the sand becomes more visible and, in consequence, easier to respect.

respect yourself

The Bottom Line

You are not a machine. You have your limits. Either you find where they are, set boundaries, and respect them, or your body will find those limits and will make you pay a dear price if you overstep them. Either way, you will be demanded to respect limits. It’s best that you face these limits on your own terms.

You can reduce the negative effects of decision fatigue by accepting and not fighting the slowness when it comes. And you can eliminate many options by simply raising your yes standards whenever you feel decision fatigue coming on.

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