What Is Decision Fatigue & Ways To Prevent It?

What is Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue is the deterioration of the ability and willpower to make good choices after an extended period of decision making.

All throughout the day, there are hundreds of choices to make. From making choices for daily meals to making complicated emotional, financial and physical well-being decisions, there is a lot our mind has to go through.

For example constantly thinking about what to eat every day, scrolling dozens of recipes to finalize on one, going down the grocery store and deciding on what to buy, not having time to cook what you want to can lead to decision fatigue.

Also managing decisions at work, interviewing people and shortlisting amongst the many deserving fearing you might not have cut the most deserving can also lead to decision fatigue.

What is Decision Fatigue?

No matter how strong a person is, the ability to make decisions wears out when the mind gets stressed by the endless amount of decisions made throughout the day.

Decision fatigue also plays a big role in the behavior as on being overstressed the person becomes hasty and shut down altogether. It can be avoided by managing the way you make decisions so that you can conserve mental energy.

Signs of Decision Fatigue

The basic signs of decision fatigue are:

  • An attitude to do the things later
  • Impulsive feeling
  • Being in doubt while making decisions
  • Avoiding dealing with things
  • Over a period of time, this type of stress can lead to irritability, increased anxiety, and even depression further leading to tension headache and digestive issues.

Ways To Prevent Decision Fatigue

Directing the thoughts and actions can help avoid decision fatigue.

Here are a few ways on how to get started on managing the decision fatigue.


  • Self-care is extremely important when stress wears down the human system.
  • Taking time out for rest or even a 10 minutes break between the tasks throughout the day helps in reviving back to a fresh state of mind
  • Make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition. Keep a tab on the alcohol intake.

Make A List Of Decisions Which Should Be Given Importance

  • Make a list of the top priorities of the day and cut down on the less important things. Make sure you tackle the things which top the list.
  • This helps in completing the important work when the energy level is at its peak.

Reduce on the Minor Decisions

  • Do not drain yourself by spending energy on minor issues such as deciding on what to eat at the restaurant. Instead, pack your meals and take along.
  • Take out the clothes you will be wearing the next day to the office to save time and decision stress the following day.
  • It is hard to realize that these minor things have very little impact on life but can take a lot of decision energy.

Set Up A Routine

Setting up a routine for each day reduces the draining of decision energy. It can be done by having a set time:

  • To go to sleep every day
  • Specific days to go to the gym
  • To go to the grocery shopping
  • Having strict and clear rules for each day saves a lot of time and energy and saves the decision power for other important things.

Eating Healthy

Eating healthy and nutritious food helps in saving energy. Research shows a quick and healthy snack improves self-control and reduces the blood sugar from dipping low (1).

Share the Mental Load

Allowing others to help in decision making can reduce the mental load.

Such as:

  • Allowing the roommate to come up with the options of meal planning and taking his help for shopping the groceries.
  • Discussing with the colleagues about any decision in the office and office work.
  • Asking a close friend to decide on the route for traveling or purchasing any item for house or for buying a gift.

Keep a Check On Your Mental And Physical State

  • Always pay attention to the emotional and physical responses of the body.
  • When extremely overwhelmed, you start making poor food choices or to avoid decision making you start snacking on junk food.
  • Keeping a check on these reactions can help you understand where you need to improve on.
  • If feeling irritable, low on energy, or overwhelmed, you might be suffering from decision fatigue. Work on how you can maintain a balance and stay stress-free.

You can follow the above tips to conserve the energy for the decision which really mater and also stay easy with the daily routine.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2019

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