The single greatest determiner of success in business and life generally is the decisions we make. Decision making starts right from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we sleep.

Every decision we make, however small, is crucial because it drains our energy and contributes to what is called decision fatigue the number one enemy of making good decisions.

Decision fatigue is the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions after a long session of decision making.

As a business owner or manager, your bottom line depends on making good decisions. Therefore, by understanding decision fatigue, how it affects your decisions and how to counter it, you can improve your performance significantly.

In one case study in the USA, researchers examined more than 1,000 judicial rulings by a parole board judge, who was determining whether or not to allow the criminal to be released from prison on parole.

They discovered that prisoners got more favorable judgments in the morning than in the afternoon. Basically, as the morning wore on and the judge became drained from making more and more decisions, the likelihood of a criminal getting a favorable ruling dropped significantly.

When someone is mentally fatigued, they are bound to make bad decisions, make decisions that look less risky, or even postpone the decision altogether. In this case, judges found it safer to deny parole than risk pardoning someone who did not deserve it.

In business, the best decisions are made in the morning when both you and the client are not fatigued.

As a manager whose job entails making many decisions and complex trade-offs, you are bound to get mentally fatigued and start making poor choices at some point if you work long hours without a break.

How can one reduce mental fatigue and improve the quality of their decisions?

Firstly, simplify the decisions you need to make every day. Having templates and routines as well as policies and work manuals in your business goes a long way to reduce the decisions you have to make in different situations. For example, you don’t have to draft your profile, apology letter or introduction letter every time a client requests for it.

Quite remarkably, President Barack Obama wore only blue or gray suits while in the oval office. Some observers argue that this helped him reduce mundane daily decisions such as what to wear.

Some of us spend a lot of mental energy trying to choose attires, what to eat, what tasks to accomplish, and so on. Establishing a routine saves you mental energy!

Secondly, set your most important tasks and appointments earlier in the day. When you meet a client when they are fatigued, chances are that they will postpone the decision or refuse your requests to avoid the risk of losing their money.

Thirdly, develop a to-do list a day before. This way, you don’t have to start the morning planning what to do as you already know.


This article was first published in The Business Daily on September 25, 2018.

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