Saturday, January 7, 2012

Decision Fatigue

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about whether the time of day you make a decision impacts the quality of that decision. Well, the evidence is clear that there may be an impact. It is called decision fatigue and it describes a phenomena where the quality of one's decisions made later in the day deteriorates.

The research shows that during the day one's mental energy is depleted, particularly if you focused on complex tasks and decisions. Decision fatigue can cloud a person's judgment and explains undesirable behaviors such as losing focus during meetings, getting angry with colleagues, becoming impulsive or making decisions without consideration of the consequences.

There are things you can do to minimize the effect. They include:
  • recognizing the problem and monitoring your behavior during the day;
  • planning your day so that you schedule important meetings and decisions early in the day;
  • avoiding back-to-back meetings so that you have time to recharge your 'mental energy' between meetings;
  • taking short mental breaks;
  • sleeping on decisions and avoiding making complex decision late in the day; and
  • being clear about your goals so that you minimize the drain of energy associated with sorting through complex issues.
A Research Brief that describes this term more fully is available at the Resources page on my website at I would enjoy hearing from you about your experience with decision fatigue and ideas you may have for avoiding the impact.

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