Decision Fatigue: The invisible hand behind your poor choices

April 8, 2020 • ☕️ 2 min read

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Ever wondered why Mark Zuckerberg, or any wildly significant person like Presidents or world leaders, mostly wear the same kind of clothes day in and day out? This is why: Decision fatigue.

What is decision fatigue?

Borderline is this:

We all have a limited number of decisions that we can make in a day. After that, the quality of our decisions starts to deteriorate.

We make a lot of decisions in a day. What to wear, what to eat, what to watch, what to think. We don’t even recognize most of the decisions we make. They are made automatically by our conscious and sub-conscious based on our routines or nature of work. But there are some decisions which we deliberately make throughout the day, some are complex whereas others are simple, but making all these decisions take resources from our decision making reserves, which is limited.

Although choosing which clothes to wear might seem like a trivial decision to you and me but when you are responsible to make a decision that is going to affect millions of people, there is no room for messing up. So you spend your decisions on mission-critical, high profile, shit-can’t-go-wrong situations, not on which clothes to wear or what meals to have.

Its subtle, but we’re surrounded by it

We can see examples of decision fatigue everywhere around us. No wonder we find ourselves drained out of will power after returning from a hard day at the office, you’ve run out of your quota. And from that point onwards whatever you try to do will be half-hearted.

According to a study conducted to see how the decisions of parole officers get affected throughout the day:

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.

This is the reason why supermarket checkout counters are lined with chocolates or gums or other tiny items. They are taking advantage of the consumer’s decision fatigue. They know that even after a relatively normal shopping session, the consumer will likely make a poor quality decision at the checkout counter because of having made a lot of decisions beforehand while doing the actual shopping.

What to do?

This might feel like things are stacked against you, but that’s not the case. Will power, self-control, and our decision quotas are like a muscle. The more you put them to work, the more they’ll grow.

And it doesn’t have to start with you wearing the same clothes every day as Mark Zuckerberg, that will be a very grey world to live in. All you need is to make your decisions consciously and not waste them on trivial things in your life.

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"The only thing I know is that I know nothing" - Socrates