Whether you’re new to entrepreneurship or not, you’ve been loaded up with decisions to make. From choosing your brand’s colors to determining what to say to an unhappy customer, you’ve dealt with just about all of it. But making those decisions every day (or every minute of the day) can wear you down. There’s a term for it: decision fatigue. It’s where you’ve handled so many decision details that you start to get tired of doing it all.
There are a bunch of different ways to handle decision fatigue, and implementing one or a few of them will have you well on your way to making better decisions. We asked 11 entrepreneurs what they do when they have far too many decisions to make. Their insights are useful and can help you gear up to tackle the most important ones — without the exhaustion.
Q. Decision fatigue is a real thing — and something no entrepreneur wants to encounter. What’s your best strategy to ensure good decision-making while avoiding mental exhaustion?
Their best answers are below:
It’s really important to step away and get perspective. For me, that can mean anything from traveling to taking a short break. Regardless of duration, you need fresh eyes and mind, and getting outside of the situation can provide a helpful perspective and refresher. – Darrah Brustein, darrah.co
Sleep on It
Whenever I have to make a big decision, I find that sleeping on it allows my mind to process it and think more clearly about it, so that the next morning I can finalize my decision. Making a decision in multiple stages has always helped me make better decisions, as I can fully weigh out all the options. – Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile
Start with Why
The first question I ask when a decision reaches my desk is why is it there in the first place. Understanding why a decision needs to be made is key to making better decisions as an organization. If the same theme keeps coming up, it’s time to proactively engage in resolving it, or in uncovering where we’re failing to set expectations or create processes that will allow the organization to decide. – Jeff Jahn, DynamiX
Offload Low-Priority Thoughts
Thousands of thoughts a day fight for a front seat in your consciousness. Sifting through too many thoughts throughout the day can overwhelm anybody. So don’t! Prioritize your thoughts in a written list with the most important thoughts on top. Decide which low-priority thoughts to deal with later. With less congestion in your mind, you can focus on what matters most with less stress. – Christopher Tedder, Clinger Holsters
Don’t React, Respond
The best advice I’ve ever heard was from Daymond John at a conference. He said that you should never react to someone or something. Instead, it’s far more effective to respond. Reacting is letting your emotions control your judgment and words. When you respond, you’re focused on separating the signal from the noise and providing a well-constructed and, often times, more productive answer or strategy to that decision. – Jarred King, Swagger Media
Write Down Your Decision Points
It’s hard to be objective when you have a lot of context and decision points in your head. Writing things down, even if the list itself seems exhausting, allows you to step back and be intentional about identifying patterns and interrelations in your decisions. You’ll often find that there are one or two critical decisions and the rest can wait. – Rob Duffy, Ship On Day One
Get Out of Your Head
Decision fatigue is merely anxiety. You already know the answer to the choices you have. It’s in your heart and aligns most with your values and your vision. Get out of your head by doing physical activities that keep you connected to your body. Look within yourself, and you’ll see that you had the answers all along. – Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint
Studies have shown that working up a sweat releases endorphins as your mind goes into a different mode and you become more clear and focused on what’s in front of you. If you feel mental exhaustion coming on, tap into your fight or flight mode by scheduling a workout class with a friend or getting into the gym for at least 60 minutes on your own! Your body and mind will thank you. – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
Limit Your Options
The more choices we have, the more indecisive we become, or as scientists put it: decision paralysis. By limiting my options from the get-go, not only do I make more decisions, but I second guess myself less often. – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
Don’t Fear Failure
I think that when people have a hard time making a decision, it’s mostly because they fear making the wrong decision. In my experience, and in studying some of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, I’ve found that failure is never permanent. Prepare as best you can and do your research and then make the decision that’s most logical based on your knowledge. It doesn’t have to be perfect. – Shawn Porat, Scorely
Decision fatigue is only an issue when I’m asked to make lots of small decisions throughout the day. I prefer to trust my team to make smart decisions and only come to me when they’re really stumped. – Vik Patel, Future Hosting
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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