How many decisions do you think you make in an average day? From the moment the alarm interrupts your blissful slumber, we are constantly deciding what to wear, what to eat, whether to respond to that text message or answer the call from an unknown number.Some sources suggest that the average person makes up to 35,000 choices per day. Assuming you are like most people and sleep about seven hours per day (and not making any decisions during that time), that means you make approximately 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds!
There is a wealth of fascinating research about how our decisions are powerful influenced by subconscious thought processes. For example, we know the number of options we have can make a big difference in whether we purchase a product or not. Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made the more decisions that are made. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. If you missed that one, check it out here:
But it’s not just how many decisions or how many choices we have; we are also influenced by when we make decisions. Because of the possibility of conflict and unwanted outcomes, making decisions can be stressful. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and those invisible forces that influence our decisions helps alleviate that stress and grow your decision-making IQ.
There is a wealth of literature about the very real effects of decision fatigue. Unfortunately, it happens to all of us and even small decisions add up and drain your mental resources.
Here are 4 secrets to grow your decision-making IQ.
1. Make important decisions in the morning.Save the mundane decisions for the end of the day and save the simple things for the evening. Selecting your outfit the night before, making a shopping list and sticking to it, or putting your gym bag by the door so you don’t even have to think about whether you’ll go to the gym the next day can make a big difference.
2. Commit to scheduled routines. Don’t decide whether you’ll pick up dinner on the way home or warm up left-overs. Structure those things that you have to do – laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, etc. – in a predictable schedule that takes no decision-making and commit to it.
3. Keep your blood sugar steady. A studythat examined the parole decisions of a group of judges showed that they were more likely to grant parole at the start of the day . As time went on and they got more mentally fatigued, they were more likely to deny parole, which was the default decision. In the time right after their meal, their likelihood of granting parole jumped back up to morning levels and then steadily decreased throughout the afternoon.4. Avoid impulse decisions. Don’t listen to the instant gratification seeker who doesn't always consider the consequences.
The bottom line: the best decision-makers are those who know when not to make important decisions.