There is some bad news for those people out there whose job it is to make decisions all day.
Studies show that the quantity of decisions made may directly affect the quality of decisions made since the executive function of your brain – aka the decision maker – has limits.
This is called, “decision fatigue.” And it’s not only NOT a joke… it’s genuinely serious.
Many of us often feel our brain stops working around 2 or 3 pm every afternoon. Why? Are we just bored and ready to go home? Well, maybe. More importantly, however, it’s probably because your brain is tired.
With a work day that often starts at 8 or 9 am, by the time mid-afternoon rolls around, you have likely been working your brain for five to six hours. The result? Decision fatigue.
“Hmmm,” you consider suspiciously, “But I don’t make huge decisions all day at my job. I don’t think this really applies to me.”
You don’t have to be deciding whether to sell your company, for a thought process to qualify as a ‘decision’. Simply writing a report can be rife with decisions… “What do I include? How do I best express my findings? And how can I best present this information in order to push for the result I want?”
Imagine six hours of writing reports and making the decisions required to do so. Then, you arrive home and try to do your taxes. It would be miserable! It would be really difficult. You wouldn’t want to think that hard because your brain is tired.
Now imagine yourself waking up, going for a jog, and sitting down to do your taxes with a cup of fresh coffee. Your taxes still wouldn’t be fun. However, they would be much easier to do because the thoughts inside your head would make sense. Your brain would work.
– On Amir, Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain, Scientific American
As an entrepreneur, it is important to be aware of your brain’s capacity to make the best decisions possible. You don’t want to make important decisions with an exhausted brain any more than you would want to try to carry something heavy at the finish line of your first marathon (or your eleventh marathon, either way).
Common outcomes of decision fatigue include making poor decisions or entirely avoiding making decisions / resolving issues which could be just as detrimental.
It might not be possible or desirable to eliminate the role of decision maker from your professional role, but it is certainly advisable to acknowledge that decision fatigue is an important issue to be addressed and realized when structuring your schedule.