An average person on an average day makes 35,000 decisions each day.
All those decisions–from major life changes to what to wear or eat in the morning–take time and energy and can really deplete you. And this can lead to what we call decision fatigue.
While there is some confusing science behind it, decision fatigue is a real thing. And I know firsthand how it feels in the body and brain, not just how it looks on paper.
In this episode of Time to Level Up, you’ll learn how to identify and combat decision fatigue in your life. I’ll reveal examples of how I’ve moved through it over the last 18 months to show what you can do when faced with decision overload.
What’s Covered in This Episode About How to Combat Decision Fatigue
3:00 – Events that have transpired for me over the last 18 months
4:40 – What is decision fatigue?
8:05 – Where you might be experiencing decision fatigue
11:07 – The four main symptoms of decision fatigue that I’ve identified
15:10 – Six things you can do to eliminate decision fatigue
23:16 – Trying to convince a friend or loved one to see a therapist or coach?
Mentioned In How to Combat Decision Fatigue in Everyday Life
She Thinks Big by Andrea Liebross
She Thinks Big Live Event
Quotes from this Episode of Time to Level Up
“Making decisions day in and day out can be exhausting and cause people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed.” – Andrea Liebross
“Decision fatigue is cumulative. As a person makes decisions, they may feel worse or more drained as the day progresses.” – Andrea Liebross
“If you know you need to make a decision but you keep pushing it out, you’re not procrastinating. You’re avoiding it.” – Andrea Liebross
Liked this? You’ll Enjoy These Other Time to Level Up Episodes
Welcome to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I'm your host, Andrea Liebross. Each week, I focus on the systems, strategy, and big thinking you need to CEO your business and life to the next level. Are you ready? Let's go.
Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I'm so happy to have you here. How is November going? Are you feeling stressed about the holidays that are coming up and all the things that go along with them? I don't know. I'm looking forward a little bit to the holidays this year because hopefully, we will be in our new house.
Now I am recording this about a month and a half ahead of when it is going to actually air. We do this batch recording right before December, so that we record all of December and January's episodes ahead of time so that we don't have to do it over the holidays so I am recording this episode that's airing in the middle of November at the very beginning of October.
I'm not quite there yet. But yet this topic is very appropriate for I think the middle of November. What I want to talk to you today about is decision fatigue, and what to do, how to eliminate it, and how to approach it. You might be listening right now and trying to decide if you should attend She Thinks Big Live in January. The answer to that decision is yes. Why not? Why would you not be there in a room full of big thinkers and amazing women and feel that energy? You definitely want to be there 100%.
Head over to andrealiebross.com/events and get registered now. I hope there are still spots left. I don't know because at the time of this recording, we haven't even opened up the doors yet. But now the doors are fully open and you should be able to go register. It should be a super easy decision.
But here is what I want to share with you today. I want to share with you a little bit of what's happened to me over the past year and a half around decision-making, how it felt in my body, how it felt in my brain, and what it looked like on paper, then how I have moved through it.
I will tell you I don't think I could have moved through it as unscathed or as well as I did without having these coaching tools in my back pocket. You probably figured out by now that over the last 18 months, I have written a book. I have gotten one child, the last child off to college. I have moved out of the house we lived in for 22 years.
I've lived in an apartment for about six or eight months and I'm about to move into a new house that we built. It’s a custom build so it's filled with decisions. They poured the foundation for this house in May of 2022, which also is when my daughter graduated from high school. Then in July of 2022, I started writing a book. In August of 2022, she went off to college.
I kept writing and kept writing and kept making decisions around this house. Then the book finally launched in September of ‘23 and we are probably moving into our house at the very end of October of ‘23. That's a timeline of a lot of things that have been going on, big things, milestone kinds of things in my life over the last 15 to 18 months. There have been times when my head has hurt, literally and figuratively, or my brain has felt exhausted.
My husband sometimes says, “My brain hurts,” and I think he's right. I looked up this concept of decision fatigue. I googled it. I went to the Googles, and guess what, my friends, this is a medical term. Decision fatigue is the state of mental overload that can impede a person's ability to continue making decisions.
Making decisions day in and day out, whether it is choosing your route home, deciding what you're going to have for dinner, or navigating a life milestone, it can be exhausting and it can cause people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. I will vouch that I have felt all of those three things: overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. That's in the actual medical definition.
Because here's the thing, just an average person on an average day makes 35,000 decisions each day. All of those decisions take time and energy, and they can really deplete us. If you've ever been to The Cheesecake Factory, you know that menu that's like a book and just looking at it makes your eyes spin? There are a lot of decisions going on at The Cheesecake Factory. I felt like my life was like a big Cheesecake Factory menu.
What was so interesting is two things. Number one, I am a very fast decision-maker. I make decisions very quickly. I mean, I can compare myself to my husband. He does not make decisions very quickly. I'm not saying one is right or wrong, I want you to think about that. Making a decision quickly is not a good thing necessarily, making a decision slowly is not a good thing necessarily.
But given the fact that I am a fast decision-maker, and given the fact that I actually also am one to make lots of decisions ahead of time, I was a bit surprised at the decision fatigue that I have felt. But if I think about the fact that the average person is going to bed having made 35,000 decisions, I was probably making 60,000 decisions every day. Those decisions, again, they take time and energy and they really can deplete us.
Now, the science behind this is really confusing, and I read about it. There are lots of conflicting opinions, but regardless of the inner workings of the brain and why this happens, decision fatigue is totally real.
Here are some places where you might be experiencing decisions. You could be experiencing decisions around a milestone event like a wedding or moving. You could experience decision fatigue around a new job, a new business, searching for a new job or searching for the next client. And you can experience decision fatigue around small everyday situations like literally what are you having for breakfast? Or should you do the laundry on Sunday or Monday? This all contributes to decision fatigue.
I was deciding things like what to include in my book, what did I want the cover to look like? How did I want this launch to go? I remember many times during this book process, and I worked with the publisher member, I wasn't self-publishing, I just send to the publisher, you make the decision, whatever you think is best. Whatever decision you would make, I will make because I didn't have brain space to make the decision.
Regarding our house, we hired an interior designer who helped us make tons of decisions like every decision, and I don't think we could have really done it without her because we would have gotten stuck, or at least my husband would have gotten stuck in analysis paralysis. We made as many decisions ahead of time in terms of what they call selections, like what do we want our trim color to be? What did we want our appliances to be? How did we want our fireplace to look?
All these things, we did it all ahead of time but still even with having a support system in place, even with trusting that support system, even with my coaching tools that I have in my toolbox, even with the fact that I'm a quick decision-maker and Rob is more of a researcher, all that combined, we still experienced this decision fatigue.
I want you to think about this, what are you making decisions around? What is creating decision fatigue? Or is it a combination of everything? What's interesting is that this decision fatigue is cumulative so that as a person makes decisions, they may feel worse or more drained as the day progresses.
The more choices that you have to make, the more it wears on your brain and it can then cause your brain to look for shortcuts because it can't handle this exhaustion. I think there are really four main symptoms that I identified in myself, and you may notice in yourself, when I was experiencing decision fatigue.
Number one is procrastination. Now, I am not a procrastinator. I would never call myself a procrastinator. But there were certain things that I procrastinated on because I just didn't have the capacity to make the decision.
Now I would say I vocalize the fact that I was not making this decision until later on so that was super helpful versus just not acknowledging that it was a decision to be made. I would suggest that if you’re experiencing procrastination, it's way better and way more powerful for you to state that you will not be making the decision for another day or week and let the parties that we know and also let your brain know, let your brain off the hook until that designated time, that's you caring for yourself.
Number one is procrastination. It shows up as procrastination. It can also show up as impulsivity. Impulsivity definitely occurred. I would just say that I would be presented with two choices and I just would pick one really without thinking about it. But here's something else that's interesting. I also have this sense of trust with myself, trusting that whatever decision I made was going to work out. I was going to figure things out.
Kind of that what's the worst thing that can happen philosophy. Nothing much. Impulsivity actually might be a good thing if you have that level of trust, and we're going to talk about that in a second. But that decision fatigue totally showed up as impulsivity for me.
The third thing, the third way it showed up was avoidance. I didn't notice this as much in myself as I did in other people. There's a superintendent of our build. Oh, probably four or five months ago, we pointed out to him that the stain color of the stairs doesn't match the floor. I know these are first-world problems but we pointed out to them that the stain color doesn't match up, of the stairs doesn't match. The flooring, we pointed out that it doesn't match the sample. We have a problem.
He kept telling us that he would address it, he would address it, he just had to wait till he pulled up the protective coating off of the floor and stairs. But guess what, my friends, we’re only like a couple of weeks out from moving in and he just started to address it, which has created all of these other problems along the way. That is an example of avoidance.
If you know something needs to be addressed, you know you need to make a decision on it but you keep pushing it out, you're just avoiding it. You're not procrastinating. You're avoiding it. You're hoping that it goes away. You're hoping that you can convince yourself that whatever is happening right now is perfect. That's what he was doing, he started to try to convince us that contrast was good and that all these new houses have contrast, which really isn't the case, but he was avoiding that decision until he couldn't.
Decision fatigue can show up as procrastination, it can show up as impulsivity, it can show up as avoidance, and it can also show up as indecision, which I think summarizes all of them. What do we do about this? What did I do about this? Well, here are some things that I put into place.
Number one, I left myself plenty of space to reflect. What did that look like? That looked like me having the intention of spending five minutes, that's it, morning and evening doing some Afformations. We've talked about Afformations in a previous episode, but it's a form of journaling. It was a really good way to do some reflecting to settle my brain.
I can put to work a lot of my self-coaching tools. I can use the model. So number one, leave space to reflect. Number two, self-confidence and trust. I had to assess my own confidence. I had to quiet that little frenemy voice in the back of my brain that says, “You've never done this before. This isn't your area of expertise. Are you really sure?”
I had to assess my ability to quiet that voice and to move forward with a decision. That is a combination of confidence, trust, and the willingness to feel whatever the repercussions were going to be if I made “the wrong decision” or decision that didn't pan out.
“What's the worst thing that can happen?” phrase popped into my head a lot. But the other phrase that popped in there is “What if this is perfect? What if I'm making the best decision?” I had to give equal airtime to that. Number one is leave some space to reflect. Number two is assess your ability to create confidence and trust. Number three is make faster decisions.
I gave myself so many deadlines, especially with the book writing. The book writing, I had a timeline that I had to adhere to. I didn't love the timeline. Lots of chapters were due on Monday mornings at 8:00 AM. I would not do it over the weekend and I would wake up at 5:00 AM to finish the chapter before 8:00 AM when it was due.
But I just had to decide what words were going on the piece of paper. I had to decide which cover I was going with. I had to decide what I wanted the copy to be on the back. All of these decisions, I just had to follow the timeline. Making faster decisions is another way in which you can manage decision fatigue.
Here's the next thing. Delegate decisions. You know I'm really big on delegating. I delegated tons of decisions. I delegated decisions to our interior designer, I delegated decisions to the project manager from the publishing house, I delegated decisions to my editor, I delegated decisions to my husband, as like this is your puppy, you did make the decision on that one. Your call. I’m out.
Delegating decisions also looks like streamlining decisions and reducing the number of decisions. Online grocery shopping is a form of delegating decisions because I can only choose what appears on the screen. I am not walking the aisles. Using a personal stylist was a form of delegating decisions. What am I wearing to my launch party? Let's let the stylists choose.
I was reducing the number of decisions that I personally had to make. That's an awesome way too to eliminate decision fatigue. What could you delegate? How can you reduce the number of decisions?
Here are some other things. Do you really have to decide what's going to go in your kid's lunchbox? Can they decide? They sure can. Do you really have to decide what social media post is going up? Could your team member decide? They sure can. So, number one, leave yourself some space to reflect. Number two, assess your self-confidence and ability to trust. Number three is make faster decisions and number four is delegate or reduce the number of decisions that you have to make.
Then here's number five, prioritize your well-being. I'm going to admit, I was not good at this. I was not good at this until maybe the last four or five months. I wasn't prioritizing my well-being. You know what, still right now today, to this day, I'm not, in some categories, prioritizing my well-being.
I am prioritizing taking care of my body in the sense of I'm getting massages regularly. I've experienced now cold plunging six or seven times. I did something called the Rolf method, which is releasing fascia. I've been really good at working out three times a week. I've been doing lots of walking outside, moving my body.
Last winter, I was going to yoga consistently. I have been prioritizing my well-being there. But here's something that maybe you might consider not prioritizing. I'll be honest, I haven't cooked in probably three months. I've decided that I'm not cooking in this little apartment kitchen. We're getting takeout or going out to eat. Since it's just my husband and I, that totally works.
I prioritize my well-being in that category by eliminating the decision of what to make for dinner. You could call that prioritizing your well-being. What are you doing to prioritize your well-being? What do you want to explore as a different way in which to do that?
Sleep, my friends. Sleep is definitely a way that I've prioritized my well-being. I've taken some naps and I'm not a nap taker. I got this aura ring that tells me what's happening with my sleep patterns. I will put a link to that in the show notes because I know some of you are curious about this aura ring. That's prioritizing your well-being.
Leave some space to reflect. Assess your ability to trust and exude confidence. Make faster decisions. Delegate or reduce the number of decisions. Prioritize your well-being. Here's the last thing, secure support. If I didn't have a coach during this time, I'm not sure how I would have managed it either because having that sounding board, having someone there to point out all the things that actually were going well was priceless.
Even though I have all of these tools in my toolbox, even though I am a coach, having my own coach to help me continue to hone my decision-making, my skills, my ability to manage situations when I am fatigued and overloaded, it makes a world of difference and why wouldn't you want that? Sometimes people ask me how do I convince my loved one or friend to go see a therapist or to work with a coach. Well, first of all, you can't convince them.
But what you can tell them is that you have a boundary and that you want to continue to be married to them or to be their friend. But your boundary is that they need to seek support. You can help them set that all up and encourage them to go. You can't get them to go but what you can do is say, “If you don't go, this relationship cannot continue.”
I want to bring this up because so many people have asked Rob and I, “Are you guys on the brink of divorce after building a house together?” The answer is no, absolutely no. We rarely fought or disagreed on anything throughout this whole process. All of our exhaustion and frustration really was not around each other at all. In fact, we were really part of each other's support teams.
Even though the other person was going through something similar, they were things that I got really upset about that Rob didn't get upset about at all, they were definitely things he was really frustrated and angered by but didn't bother me at all. We were part of each other's support teams.
We also had external support, support in other forms. Coaching, my friends, is an amazing support system because, guess what, coaching looks forward, coaching is all about moving forward. I did not want to move backwards in any of these things. Book writing, our house building, I didn't want to move backward, I only wanted to march forward so coaching was the perfect vehicle in which to do that and to help me continue to do the work worth doing.
Okay, my friends. How do you deal with decision fatigue? You leave space to reflect. You assess your ability to trust and create confidence. You make faster decisions. You delegate or reduce the number of decisions that you personally have to make. You prioritize your well-being and you secure support.
This decision fatigue is a real thing. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it as much as I did over the last 18 months. I’m looking forward to an era when I only have to make 35,000 decisions a day, not 65,000, and that’s right on the horizon. It’s not like life will be better then. I’m not a “Well, when this happens, it will all be better,” no, there’ll be something else. But perhaps, it will be a season of life where the 35,000 decisions is just plenty.
If any of this resonated with you, if you want help exploring how to become a better decision-maker, how to eliminate decision fatigue, message me on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Let me know what are the decisions you’re grappling with. What are the hardest decisions for you each day? I want to know. How do we navigate that? Let’s do it together.
If you don’t have a coach, I would be honored to be your coach. It’s my passion and it is my privilege to guide so many entrepreneurial women on their journey, their journey really in personal development, disguised as an entrepreneurial adventure. No matter what business we’re running, and we do lots of talk around business and I do lots of business coaching, what it really comes down to is you elevating and lifting up yourself, leveling up. As I always say, now is the time to level up. Today. Not tomorrow, today. What's one step you can take to help you level up? See you soon.
Hey, listening to podcasts is great. But you also have to do something to kick your business up a notch. You need to take some action, right? So go to andreaslinks.com and take the quiz. I guarantee you'll walk away knowing exactly what your next best step is to level up.
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