Decision Fatigue: My brain hurts!

Q: Why do some people always wear black or the same type of clothing each day?

A: To prevent Decision Fatigue

“You’ll see I only wear grey or blue suits. I am trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” said Barack Obama to Vanity Fair in 2012.

An adult human makes 35,000 decisions each day!

A Commercial Driver will make over 240,000 driving decisions in a 7-day shift! 

Making too many decisions can take be extremely hard on you. Repeated decision-making drains your mental energy, you will lose your willpower and will create irrational outcomes. This concept is called decision fatigue. Roy Baumeister, the psychologist who coined the term “decision fatigue” says that we have a finite amount of willpower. So the more decisions you make, the lesser the willpower remains.

A dictionary defines decision fatigue as the deteriorating quality of decisions made by individuals after a long session of decision making. It is the cumulative effect of repetitive and exhaustive decision making.

Your work is a common place to suffer from decision fatigue and is quite common. After day-long of decision-making sessions as a driver, you feel tired and lose energy by the end of your drive. This lowers your accuracy of making the right choices and as a result, some important decisions fall through.

You need to bring down the time and effort needed to make decisions, making choices that need your energy and focus. 

Classic signs of decision fatigue include:

    • Procrastination. “I’ll tackle this later.”


  • Impulsivity. “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…”
  • Avoidance. “I can’t deal with this right now.”


  • Indecision. “When in doubt, I just say ‘no.’”

How To Prevent Decision Fatigue 


Prioritise important tasks – Take the time to plan your work then work your plan.

Prepare your next day in advance – List the expected tasks then …

Simplify your choices  – reduce the stress

Take frequent breaks – meditation works – breathing exercises

Eat and then decide – take pause for something good and nutritious

Start with the Hardest task – The rest of the list will seem easier

Effects of Decision Fatigue

Psychologists at The National Academy of Sciences did research on parole board judges in the USA. They examined the factors that impacted whether a judge granted parole to a criminal. They thought the results would be factors like the type of crime or the kinds of laws broken. But the results astonished them.

The quality of their decisions was impacted according to the time of the day. The judges showed to make poorer decisions as the day went by. They found, “prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.”  65 per cent of judges were more likely to give favourable decisions in the morning than in the late afternoon. But due to continuous decision making, they became drained and as a result, made poor decisions.

Three interesting decisions commercial drivers make that put lives at risk…

  1. Illegal U-Turns – Whoever said “There are no shortcuts in life” obviously wasn’t referring to the road. In driving, there are lots of shortcuts. The problem with shortcuts is that they can harm others.

What’s also common is for there to be U-turn signs posted with a red slash through the middle where it’s illegal to do one. However, that doesn’t always stop drivers.  The problem with making this maneuver has to do with any oncoming vehicles and pedestrians crossing in the area.

  1. Singing Without A Care In The World – It may seem rather innocent singing along to one’s favorite songs on the radio while driving, though according to Mental Floss, singing out loud while the radio plays could affect more than it seems on the surface. Organs like one’s brain, for example, become split between focusing on the road and recalling all the lyrics to a song. Most will see where this is going. When someone’s brain becomes “compromised” by singing in the car while driving, it increases the chance that that person won’t have the mental response time needed to avoid an accident. It’s just another one of those choices people make on the road thinking nothing bad will happen—until it does.
  2. Lacking Beauty Sleep – People should get plenty of sleep every night if they want to drive at 100%, though the truth is that not everyone abides by this rule. According to Tiemann Law Firm, on average, those who drive tired are responsible for 37,000 crashes that injure others a year. Even more result in accidents that solely involve property damage, sitting at 45,000 per year. Some even argue that drowsy drivers are more dangerous than drunk ones; someone who’s had too much to drink may be more easily assuaged from driving, whereas a tired person may write off their lack of sleep as nothing alarming.

Have you fallen prey to decision fatigue? Drop us an email or post your tips!

Sources: Association For Safe International Road Floss,  Psychology Today