How To Stop Decision Fatigue and Reduce Overwhelm When Making Daily Decisions

My latest self-care practice is something a little bit different.

It’s the art of minimising mundane daily decisions to ditch the stress.

So if you currently find yourself struggling with decision fatigue, here are a few tips on how you can manage it to reduce overwhelm when making daily decisions.

Image of a green plant on a light grey background is purely for decorative use only for the blog post, how to manage decision fatigue and reduce overwhelm when making decisions

My journey to less overwhelm

Decision fatigue is a topic that I haven’t spoken about before. But it’s a topic that has become more relevant and apparent to me lately.

Let me give you a little backstory…

When I first left the UK to follow my dream of becoming a digital nomad, I thought I would be in a hot country somewhere. Lying on the beach, sipping Margaritas while working remotely.

However, my reality looked very different, and I ended up in Istanbul.

A decision that I do not regret, but ironic to say the least as I ended up being there for winter.

And I kid you not, my backpack was full of summer clothes.

Because I thought I would be on the beach.

The only winter clothes I had were two pairs of leggings, a fleece, a puff jacket and a waterproof jacket.

But, those 4 weeks I spent in Istanbul were the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

I felt calm. A sort of zen that I usually only experience at the beach or in the mountains.

Not only was I refusing to rush around to see everything and not putting enormous pressure on myself to get the “perfect Insta-shot” but I was minimising the mundane decisions that I made each morning.

Case in point, every morning when I woke up to 0 degrees celsius, I only had to choose between 2 outfits that were warm enough to wear.

Option one = a pair of black leggings with a t-shirt, fleece hoodie, waterproof jacket, thick socks, hiking boots and my yellow beanie hat

Or

Option two = a pair of grey leggings, black t-shirt, black sweater, micro-puff jacket, waterproof jacket, thick socks, hiking boots and my yellow beanie hat

This lack of choice in what to wear each morning honestly made me feel less overwhelmed and less anxious.

It also stopped me from feeling like shit.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those women who scrutinises their body whenever they put something on that doesn’t look right.

I would forever change what I was wearing on a day where I didn’t feel comfortable, then be annoyed at myself for spending 30-mins deciding what to wear.

But in Istanbul, the decision was basically already made and I’d get ready within 5-mins. Hello to stress-free mornings and a happy Thalia!

Honestly, I didn’t realise how overwhelmed certain decisions made me feel until I eliminated them.

I now know which pointless decisions to remove from my day-to-day so I can feel more “zen” and less stressed.

So if you also want to reduce overwhelm when making daily decisions, let me share 8 mindful tips to help you manage and navigate decision fatigue.

N.B. I’m not talking about hardcore life-changing decisions. This blog post is about minimising the needless decisions that fill up your day and push you to overwhelm and exhaustion.

Winter outfit option one
Winter outfit option two

What is decision fatigue?

In a world where everything is accessible at our fingertips, there’s an abundance of options and you get bombarded with Ads about 20,000 times a day, it’s easy to feel slightly overwhelmed when making daily decisions.

I mean have you ever struggled to choose what to watch on Netflix?

There’s so much choice. You end up flicking through the countless number of movies, TV shows and documentaries trying to find something to watch. And then after about 30-mins you just put on something you’ve seen before.

Because it’s the easiest option.

Or you’re in the supermarket after finishing work and you find yourself wandering the aisles as you can’t decide what to pick up for dinner.

Maybe you even have a meltdown because the decision-making just gets too much for you. (Seriously, I can’t be the only one 😒)

Decision fatigue is real. And it’s triggered when we have to make too many decisions in a row or when we are faced with a variety of options, causing us to become overwhelmed.

Think about it.

Have you ever felt stressed out from deciding what to wear in the morning?

Do you just brush your overwhelm aside thinking it’s nothing?

Decision fatigue probably affects you more than you realise.

But by being aware of the causes and signs of decision fatigue, you are better able to cope with daily decisions, making you feel less overwhelmed during the day.

Signs you might have decision fatigue

Decision fatigue can impact anyone, regardless of your mental state.

It can affect even the most “zen” and relaxed people.

It’s also important to note, that decision fatigue is not the same as indecisiveness.

Whereas indecisiveness is a “chronic ability to make decisions” because you’re constantly worried about making the wrong decisions, decision fatigue refers to “the mental exhaustion a person experiences after making a lot of decisions.” (Real Simple)

So, yes the two are very different.

But, hopefully, by listing down these signs, you can become more aware of whether you also experience decision fatigue and learn how to mindfully navigate and manage it.

Decision fatigue signs include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed when faced with too many choices
  • Purposely avoiding decision-making tasks
  • Inability to think clearly or focus
  • Frequently procrastinating
  • Overthinking things
  • Physical symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, exhaustion and headaches
  • Tiredness or brain fog
  • Lack of energy
  • Act on impulse or without thinking
  • You’re not really happy with the choice you finally make

8 decision fatigue tips to help reduce overwhelm

Whether you experience all the above signs of decision fatigue on a regular basis or you get overwhelmed easily when making decisions, I hope you manage to find comfort with these mindful tips.

I also encourage you to bookmark this page, so you can refer back to it when you need it most.

1 | Take regular breaks to replenish your mind

The most important and gentle way you can cope with decision fatigue and reduce overwhelm is by going easy on your mind by taking regular breaks.

This can look like dedicating time to self-care throughout the day or between tasks and getting plenty of rest.

It is also important that you allow your mind to switch off in the evenings.

Build a relaxing evening routine that requires you to make zero decisions, so you can relax the mind and prepare it for sleep.

Getting 7–9 hours of good sleep a night is essential in helping your mind to repair itself, so you can wake up the following day feeling energised and more focused.

This means a boost in concentration when making big decisions and less procrastination.

2 | Go “cold turkey” on making pointless decisions

One of the most effective ways to manage decision fatigue and ditch overwhelm is to start off by going “cold turkey”.

I’m not saying completely stop making needless decisions as that is impossible, but instead, limit yourself to making a few decisions each day. This might be around 3–4 decisions.

The key is to start filtering out the pointless decisions you make so you can start to eliminate them and just focus on bigger decision-making.

3 | Make big decisions in the morning or when your energy is at its highest

Leading on from the above point, once you have started to cut down on pointless decision-making, you can get clearer on what your big daily decisions are.

These big daily decisions might appear in your top priorities of the day, important meetings or other events where you need to make a lot of decisions.

Tackle these at the beginning of the day, or when your energy is at its highest.

By scheduling these “big decision-making” events in the morning or when your energy is at its highest, you are extra focused, allowing you to think more clearly.

And give your brain a rest afterwards by leaving lighter decisions for the afternoon or when your energy is at its lowest.

4 | Develop a consistent daily routine

Set up your day to make the least decisions possible by developing a consistent daily routine.

By following a set routine or structure, you are able to save time by spending less time making decisions and more time being productive.

This will also bring a sense of consistency to your life and help you build a series of habits on autopilot. Let’s face it, habits are basically decisions that we subconsciously do without thinking.

So create your daily routine with the idea of it becoming a ritual.

And go a step further by even theming your days!

Theming my days has given me more clarity and focus, as when I wake up I know exactly what I’m doing. And I don’t even need to think about it.

To find out the exact step-by-step process I followed to theme my days for a more productive and consistent week, read this blog post.

A preview image for the blog post, how to plan a productive week and stay consistent by theming your days.  This helps you to have a daily routine on auto pilot so you can manage decision fatigue and reduce overwhelm.

5 | Plan your day the night before

This is one of my go-to productivity hacks, but it’s also a practical way to help stop decision fatigue and eliminate overwhelm during the decision-making process.

Planning out your to-do list, schedule, outfit, meals, etc, a day in advance can help better prepare you for the next day.

This means less decision overwhelm allowing you to feel calmer.

6 | Simplify your options

If having a variety of options is causing you to feel overwhelmed and stressed out, then learn to simplify your choices.

Narrow down your options to just 3, and pick 1.

Example. If you are struggling to choose what to watch on Netflix then pick 3 options off the top of your head.

Out of these 3 options, pick one.

Don’t overthink it and don’t question your decision.

And to figure out what to watch the next time around, choose between your last remaining 2 options. And then choose the last remaining option.

By simplifying your options you are able to immediately reduce overwhelm, helping you find calm during the decision-making process.

7 | Eliminate “what shall I wear today” questions by regularly decluttering your wardrobe

Stop decision fatigue when it comes to choosing what to wear by regularly decluttering your wardrobe and only keeping 5 go-to outfits.

Honestly, it’s life-changing!

I know it can be difficult to say goodbye to certain clothes but it’s important to be strict if you want to stop decision fatigue overwhelm.

So try on the piece of clothing and ask yourself;

  • Does this fit?
  • Does it make me feel good?
  • Is this comfortable? (I don’t know about you but I’m all about the comfort)
  • Will I wear it in the next 3 months?
  • Can I get good money for this if I sell it online?

8 | Delegate decision-making to someone else

If you’re fed up with making pointless decisions like what to eat, what to watch or what time to do certain things, then simply delegate them to someone else.

Hire a chef (if you’ve got the money) to decide your weekly menu for you. Or order from a food delivery service so you can just pop a meal in the oven rather than walking aimlessly around the supermarket deciding what to cook.

Ask your partner or housemate to choose something for you to watch.

You can even hire an assistant or VA to help make certain minor work decisions that are neither urgent nor a priority.

By delegating pointless decisions to someone else, you can truly just focus on your more important, big decisions eliminating overwhelm and decision fatigue.

Save these decision fatigue tips on Pinterest for later!

8 decision fatigue tips to help reduce overwhelm infographic. Black text on colourful shapes on an off-white background complemented by hand-drawn icon graphics. Tips include take regular breaks to replenish the mind, go cold turkey on making pointless decisions, make big decisions in the morning, develop a consistent daily routine, plan your day the night before, simplify choices to just 3 options, focus on what is important, delegate decision-making to someone else
How to stop decision fatigue and reduce overwhelm when making decisions infographic. Black text on off-white background. Tips include take regular breaks to replenish the mind, go cold turkey on making pointless decisions, make big decisions in the morning, develop a consistent daily routine, plan your day the night before, simplify choices to just 3 options, focus on what is important, delegate decision-making to someone else

Final thoughts

I would like to point out that I am in no way medically trained on this topic.

This blog post was written with a past experience of decision fatigue in mind and how I chose to minimise pointless decision making.

I also share these tips in the hope that they will help you in some way.

Whether that is to make you feel less alone, give you support or encourage you to make a change.

Remember, you are not selfish for prioritising your well-being.

Until next week,

♡ Thalia xx

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Here to help you mindfully navigate and balance your day. Notes on self-care, mindful productivity, mental well-being and wellness.

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Notes by Thalia

Notes by Thalia

Here to help you mindfully navigate and balance your day. Notes on self-care, mindful productivity, mental well-being and wellness.

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