I heard this term for the first time a few weeks ago and had one of those AHA moments.
When my friend mentioned Decision Fatigue my mind immediately went, ‘Oh! So that’s what some of the constant busy-ness inside my head is called. What a great phrase! It totally sums up what’s going on in my head on a daily basis.’
And it also reminded me of a disagreement My Silver Fox and I had one day, awhile back.
I remember we were in the car, on our way home from visiting family. It was the morning and as we sat at some traffic lights I said, ‘What are we going to do for lunch?’
‘I don’t know. What do you want?’, he replied.
‘Can you just decide? I have to make decisions for other people all day and it would be nice if you could just make the decision.’
‘I make decisions for people all day too!’
‘Yeah, but it’s not the same … you get paid to make those decisions. I don’t!’
As you can imagine, that discussion didn’t end well. But we didn’t go hungry and managed to organise lunch LOL
Anyway, little did I know that this is a well known term … when I came home a Googled it.
So what is Decision Fatigue?
It’s a term used for the exhaustion that comes from having to make endless decisions … ALL THE TIME!
Us Mumma’s can relate right?!
Our days are built on constant decision making. For the kids, the home, for dinner, for work … it’s never-ending.
The reason I wanted to look into this further was because my friend used this term when we were having a discussion about why mums don’t allow themselves to dream about what they love to do or what they want from their lives.
She told me that for her, it wasn’t about not allowing herself to dream or want for more. It was more the fact that with working full time, raising two boys, having unwell family members recently … she lacked the mental bandwidth to even ponder the thought. She literally felt there was no more room in her brain to think about more stuff and make more decisions.
I can imagine that SO many of us mums are in the same boat. We literally do not have the brain space to think about anything extra right now. We are ‘surviving’ and ‘getting through the day’ that we don’t have the capacity for more right now.
Firstly, I think this sucks LOL. Why do we take on that mental load that ultimately drives us crazy or to exhaustion?
Secondly, yes we ‘suffer’ from this Decision Fatigue but what the hell can we do about it? How can we reduce this mental load so we can allow ourselves to have and want more from our lives?
I don’t have all the answers for you I’m afraid. This type of ‘stuff’ is going to take some time and effort to work through.
But here’s a few things that I’ve done in the past that have reduced the stress of making decisions, when it comes to running the household:
Last year I was getting overwhelmed with meal planning and grocery shopping. It seriously got me down having to spend Sunday’s doing these chores. So we outsourced it by using the services of Bargain Box.
We had 5 meals of the week all planned for us and the ingredients were delivered on a Sunday so we were all ready to go at the the start of the week.
It definitely reduced the level of stress that this ‘chore’ was causing. In saying that, we cancelled this service earlier this year as my boys ‘don’t do’ salads, and Bargain Box is seasonal. I want them to be having at least 3-4 meals a week that include vegetables.
Every Sunday, well most Sundays LOL, I sit down and I get my head around the week ahead. We have a family whiteboard (Kmart is where I got mine) and I write in all the appointments, functions, extra-curricular activities and sports commitments we’ve got happening during the week.
Once that’s done, I plan out our meals accordingly and add them to the planner. For example, soccer practice for both boys is on a Wednesday evening from 5.30-6.30pm and we don’t get home till closer to 7pm. So on this day we schedule in takeaways. I’m not going to stress myself out trying to get a home-cooked meal prepared when we have a busy afternoon/evening.
I LOVE this way of working my week because in the mornings when I’m getting ready for the day, I can quickly check out our family planner for what’s for dinner. So if I need to get meat out of the freezer in preparation for the evening, then I do otherwise I don’t have to think about it till later in the day. Also, we keep the family planner where everyone can see it so the boys can check in and know what’s happening during the week too. WINNING!
Develop your own but also get your kids to create their own too.
Nate created a list of all the chores he needs to do to be ‘school ready’ every morning. Since creating that list, he’s personally responsible for getting his bed made, school bag packed, breakfast eaten etc. I don’t have to remind him about all the individual things he needs to do. I just ask him to go through his list and make sure he’s done all the things.
Routines work for us too. If you need to, have one for the morning and one for the evening. Every night before bed, we make sure the kitchen is clean and tidy, toys are away, washing is folded and put away … all those things that equal visual clutter first thing in the morning, we try to eliminate before bed.
Now, I’ve still got a lot of work to do. There’s SO much more I want to do in regard to routines and reducing the number of decisions being made on a daily basis.
Before I go on, I just wanted to mention that it’s not just mums who struggle with Decision Fatigue.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg choses to wear a grey t-shirt and jeans to work every day. President Obama favoured only blue or grey suits for the same reason. They literally wanted to preserve their decision-making ability for the many critical situations they faced each day.
But back to you … I want you to get some value out of all this.
Yes we have Decision Fatigue but what can we do about it? Without adding too much to what we already have going on.
The creative side of me wanted to come up with a way to make it fun. If it ain’t fun … why bother right?!
So I put together some ‘Fun Sheets’ so we can work through what thoughts are causing our Decision Fatigue and then come up with some simple ideas on how we can do things differently.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Step 1 :: Recognise what thoughts are causing the Decision Fatigue. I do this by taking a few minutes to do a ‘Brain Dump’!
Step 2 :: Then categorise the items of your ‘Brain Dump’. For example, kids, household, work etc. Then decide which area of thoughts need addressing first. What area of your life causes you the most Decision Fatigue?
Step 3 :: From this ‘area of your life’, pick one or two of the thoughts, or decisions, that you know you could change, get rid of or minimise. Then come up with a simple plan to try and change the thoughts.
One thought, or decision, I’ve taken from my Brain Dump is ‘Paying Bills On Time’. I went into my Google Calendar and set a recurring event for the 1st of every month to PAY BILLS. Then in my Google Task list, I list all the bills I need to pay online so when it comes to the 1st of the month, I just go through my task list. I don’t spend anytime looking for the bills … it’s all there in one list.
And if you enjoy doing this activity, please share this with any other Mummas you know that are struggling with Decision Fatigue.
What do you think? Does this sound like an easy way to start dealing with your mental clutter? Comment below with your thoughts.
Till next time,