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6 Ways to Tame Decision Fatigue

Ever get tired of making decisions?

We all do sometimes. But when we do, we can make poor decisions. We become impulsive, evaluate decisions poorly or fail to make a decision entirely.

Research has shown we have a limited reserve for making decisions. Decision fatigue occurs when you make too many decisions and drain your decision-making reserve.

Salespeople take advantage of decision fatigue by making you make multiple decisions during a sales process. For instance, when buying a new car, you’re asked to decide on an overwhelming number of options, which can cause decision fatigue. The result can be more expensive options than you had originally intended.

But you can combat decision fatigue using these techniques:

  1. Make Fewer Decisions
    The fewer decisions you make, the slower you’ll hit decision fatigue. Avoid making unnecessary decisions, especially right before a major decision.
  2. Limit Your Choices
    The more elements you need to evaluate during a decision, the more taxing it becomes. Keep your options simple and reduce them whenever possible.
  3. Use Decision Rules
    Avoid detailed analysis for every decision. Use rules of thumb or rules you’ve defined in advance to make your decision.
  4. Create Habits
    Habits allow you to automate a decision so you avoid spending energy on it. Make your decision once, then create a habit to avoid making it repeatedly.
  5. Make Important Decisions First
    Order your decisions from most important to least important. Spend your limited reserves on the decisions that matter most. That way if you do hit decision fatigue, it’ll have less impact.
  6. Eat
    Decision reserves get replenished when glucose levels rise.  Make sure to eat before major decisions to avoid low glucose levels. For a last minute decision, consider eating a sugary snack right before your decision.

Use these techniques to avoid decision fatigue, or minimize its impact when it does occur.

And because some research indicates decision fatigue may also impair our self-control, by avoiding decision fatigue, you’ll may find it easier to exercise, manage your debt and perform better at work and school.

Want to learn more tips? Check out J.D. Meier’s post 10 Ways to Defeat Decision Fatigue.

When have you reached decision fatigue in the past and what were the consequences?


  1. Kristin D'Agostino says

    Hey Trevor,

    I saw you on the Boston swing dance floor recently and you gave me your card. I just wanted to write and tell you I really enjoyed your article on decision-making fatigue. Fascinating stuff! Also, if you ever need freelance writing or editing, I am launching my own small business, so I’d love to work with you. We seem to have similar interests in psychology and decision-making. Hope to see you on the dance floor soon! Kristin

    • Thanks. Great dancing with you in Boston. I’ll see you there or back in Asheville sometime soon I hope. I’ll keep you in mind if I need any freelance writing. Cheers!

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