Decision Fatigue

Decision Fatigue is a thing. It’s been written about in the New York Times, Forbes, and a bunch of books and studies.  The concept is that we are unable to make good decisions if we constantly have to make decisions.

Our brains reflexively create habits – moving actions to subconscious subroutines – to be able to reduce the number of decisions we make every day.  We get angry, irritable, and then irrational when faced with too many decisions in a single sitting.  We make progressively worse decisions, and we become more impulsive over time.

I am an INFJ – the “J” part means that I prefer to have decisions made. Done. Move along.  I will make decisions snap-snap-snap, and I’m not particularly good at leaving my options open.   This is fine, usually. It’s how I work.   Sometimes, it backfires.

For example, during the wedding planning frenzy of 5,000,000 decisions per day, I was fielding a lot of questions about wardrobe, colors, decor and haircuts.  I made the call – snap-snap-snap.  I barely registered who was asking me what.  In the end, I had to explain to more than one person that this was the case. I was making decisions and not seeing the longer-term consequences of my shoot-and-move approach (until right before the wedding, naturally).

One place where I almost always suffer decision fatigue is food.  I have to be very careful about what I eat in terms of my diet, and I get so tired of thinking about food.   I don’t want to pick which restaurant to eat at. I don’t want to pore over another menu. I don’t want to do meal planning. I just want to eat something simple and get it over and done with.   This leaves me eating the same things over and over again.

I enjoyed the vacation, because I could eat so much of the Greek cuisine, I didn’t have to ask a ton of extra questions about preparation or oils, or cross-contaminates.  I could just order a normal meal. And eat.  It was sublime.

I get similar fatigue with my projects and my blog posts and writing. I tend to be able to power through those by just freewriting for a while. Brainstorming, mind-mapping things that make it feel more like play and less like work. But honestly, sometimes, my brain just shuts down completely and doesn’t want to start back up.  That’s how I’ve felt this week.

I see a lot of curling up and reading in my future.


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