You know the feeling. You’re stuck on a task that should be simple, but is turning into a chore. You’ve had back-to-back meetings all morning, responded to seemingly infinite requests in Slack and email, and now you’re being asked to make yet another decision, but have nothing to give.
Decision fatigue is the phenomenon where decision making becomes more difficult as you engage in it, and can lead to poorer decisions. It’s inevitable that everyone, including busy Leaders like you, will experience a form of decision fatigue at some point.
But you don’t have to be stuck with this problem! With these 5 steps for overcoming decision fatigue, you’ll be able to get through your day without feeling overwhelmed or regretful about anything you’ve done or not done.
1. Do the most important things first
Everybody has a different system for how they prioritize their work. We follow EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System.
EOS advises every person to start with their rocks, or top priorities, before anything else in the day. Rocks should take precedence over day-to-day responsibilities and interruptions.
It’s easy to let distractions and interruptions hijack your productivity. The problem is that small tasks and requests burn out your decision-making ability. They deplete your energy for rocks, which require you at your best!
- Pro-tip: Work with your Executive Assistant to block your calendar, so you can tackle rocks at times when you have the most energy. Empower them to protect this time and to hold you accountable to actually doing the work!
Related: 7 Signs You’re Managing Your Calendar Wrong
Calendar blocking also helps prevent “decision deferral.”
Decision deferral is a fancy way to say procrastination. If you’re not making time for your rocks, or priorities, you’re deferring or procrastinating the work. The longer you put-off your priorities, the less energy you will have for decision-making.
Your EA can help prevent decision deferral if you empower them to keep you on track!
2. Plan your decisions the night before
Most of you follow a morning routine to prepare for the day. How many of you follow a wind-down, or wrap-up routine?
An effective wind-down routine provides closure to your day. It also prepares you for what’s on your plate for tomorrow.
Related: How an EA Helped Noah Nehlich Remain Accountable to Priorities
Look at what’s on your calendar for the next day. Determine the most important decision you will need to make.
Knowing this puts your subconscious to work, even if you are offline, enjoying your evening with family.
- Pro-Tip: Work with your EA to “lock” your calendar 24 hours in advance. This isn’t always possible, but can help prevent non-urgent, last-minute changes, which affects your productivity and decision-making.
3. Improve as much as you invent
As a visionary, you have no shortage of good ideas. You can quickly think up a new service offering and have no problem throwing what we like to call “entrepreneurial hand grenades,” or last-minute changes to plans and priorities.
You may not realize this, but you expend a lot of energy inventing something new. Don’t get us wrong, new ideas serve a purpose. They propel your business forward.
But, you can save brain power by asking yourself, “what can we make better?” Your existing products and service offerings can always be improved. Sometimes they are neglected in pursuit of a new idea.
Related: How an Integrator Can Drive Momentum in Your Business (Episode 92)
Invite your EA to challenge you with improving upon something that already exists, rather than inventing something from scratch.
- Pro Tip: During weekly check-ins, ask your EA to ask you, “What can we make better?” Another way to drive improvement is for your EA to ask, “what can we kill, cut or combine?”
These questions drive improvement with existing processes. What is your business doing that feels dumb? Or like a waste of time? Kill that. What can be cut, or reduced, that’s expending too much manpower or energy? Cut it. Lastly, what’s repetitive or duplicative? Combine that process with something else.
4. Get clear on the outcome
Your decision fatigue may be a symptom that you lack clarity. When you are overwhelmed, or struggling to drive resolution, zoom out.
What are your desired outcomes? What are your rocks? Small tasks or issues are always part of something bigger. When you gain clarity on the larger vision, or desired outcome, it becomes easier to identify, discuss and solve smaller issues.
Identify, discuss and solve, or IDS, is an EOS method. “Identify” is the keyword here. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone talks in circles? Unproductive discussion is born from a lack of clarity, or an inability to identify the true issue at hand.
Get clear on your desired outcomes and gain clarity on the actual issue you need to address. This will stave off decision fatigue.
5. Create capacity to focus on top priorities
All of the strategies we have shared with you so far are effective to overcome decision fatigue, but will never have the desired impact if you lack capacity for strategic thinking.
If you are buried in administrative tasks, like managing your calendar, email and appointment scheduling, you will always lack mental bandwidth for creative problem solving.
An Executive Assistant’s greatest strength is protecting your time, energy and focus. They accomplish this by executing work on your behalf. As you delegate to your EA, or another trusted member of your team, you clean up mental clutter. You reserve your focus and energy for work that only you can do as the Leader and visionary.
Learn How an Executive Assistant Can Protect Your Focus
As a busy entrepreneur, you’re experiencing chronic decision fatigue. You want to be able to focus your energy on the most important tasks and projects in order to achieve results, but you feel like there’s so much work coming at you from every direction that it’s impossible for you to figure out what matters and what doesn’t.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – we’ve been where you are before! We know how stressful it can be when too many things need attention all the time; that’s why we built Priority VA as a solution for busy entrepreneurs who need help prioritizing their workloads and getting more done with less stress.
The first step is to schedule a free strategy call with us. During our call together, we’ll discuss your goals and challenges as an entrepreneur. Once we understand what needs your attention right now, we’ll present some options for how Priority VA can help.