How To Recognize And Defeat Decision Fatigue

While the act of making a decision seems simple enough, too much of it for too long can lead to something known as decision fatigue. By definition, decision fatigue means that after long periods of decision making, it’s harder to make good decisions.

Yes, it’s a real condition and if not recognized and controlled, it can wreak havoc in both your business and personal life.

Recognizing Decision Fatigue

A recent article on described how a business owner or anyone in corporate leadership could recognize the onset of decision fatigue.

  • Becoming a “bottleneck” to the smooth operation of your business or department. This can happen if either purposefully or by default you’ve become “the answer person,” i.e. the one that everyone comes to with every possible question or concern.
  • Making even simple decisions, like granting an employee’s request for time off, takes longer than is really necessary.
  • Continually putting off a big decision that needs to be made. According to the article, “Whether it’s spending money on new equipment or new employees, you’re probably facing several decisions that could have profound effects on your business. If you’ve been vacillating over these decisions for weeks or even months, decision fatigue has taken hold.”
  • Noticing that your behavior is more impulsive than what’s normal for you. Examples could be spending money (or more money) on unnecessary items, binge eating, or extended time playing games on your phone.

We at Authentic Leadership International ( have a plethora of effective tools and strategies to keep decision fatigue at bay.

Controlling Its Effects

An article on the Forbes website presents three steps preventing or overcoming decision fatigue:

  1. Determine whether or not the decision you need to make is consistent with your core values. If it isn’t consistent, rework your decision.
  2. Consider the worst-case scenario and its outcomes. If you believe you can live with those results should they happen, then choose that course.
  3. Figure out how the decision will impact you in terms of time, people, and money. If the benefits are worth the costs, go ahead with your decision.

We don’t like to think so, but our mental energy is a limited resource that’s easily depleted. Today’s myriad of choices can drain us before we even realize what’s happening, so it’s critical that we learn to recognize decision fatigue and repair it before it causes too much damage in any aspect of our lives. describes this new way of making decisions as “making decisions that free us from making more decisions.”  In other words, delegate. Empower employees to make decisions within their scope of control so that you no longer have to be “the answer person” for every issue.


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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

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