How to Avoid Decision Overload

Businessman in front of three arrows

Did you know that your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity? This is enough to power a low-wattage LED light!

Mind wandering requires low energy while decision-making takes up an enormous amount of brain capacity.

Ever wonder why you feel exhausted after grocery shopping?

If you just purchased 50 items, your mind has just made at least 50 decisions in a short period of time. Then notice how on the way home we break out that “impulse-buy sweet” to munch on while driving home. This is because your brain has used up its fuel. But what is that? Believe it or not, it is fats and sugars. This is why we crave sweets and submit to those thoughts, because our brain, the main operations center, has purposely and selfishly generated those thoughts so that it can get fed first. This is why nutritious meals meant to nurture our body don’t seem as appealing and therefore come second.

Businessman suffering eyestrain at officeSometimes we feel this way at the end of the work day. It is for the very same reasons. Performing higher wattage activities with your brain will wear you out. If you are feeling this way often, and this is no way to feel at the end of every day, think about what kinds of activities your brain is performing. Are you learning something new? Is it a steep learning curve? In that case this feeling should be temporary. On the other hand, are you making a lot of decisions at work? This can be ongoing.

How to reduce the amount of decisions you are making at work?

Delegate Decisions

delgationDelegate any decisions that can be delegated by giving your delegates guidelines on how you make those decisions. If you are not comfortable with them making the final decision just yet, then you can start with having them pitch you their decision and reasoning while you act as the devil’s advocate. Having someone do the due diligence behind it as well as talking through it can help make the best choice more clear.

Automate Decisions

From choosing what to wear, which route to take to work, to what task to start your day
with and what to eat for lunch are all micro-de
cisions that tap into our reservoir of energy.  Automate any decisions that are re-occuring and consistent such as these. Developing a balanced and healthy routine that can turn into habit is a great way to put those decisions on autopilot. Take some time now to develop a routine and decision making system that can help reduce the amount of brain power used on a daily basis.

Use the Rule of 5-5-5Eat medidate walk.png

Become hyper aware of your brain’s energy levels. Read your body to know when you are peaking and when your energy levels start to decline. When this happens, take a break.  Take 5 minutes to eat a sugary or fatty snack (we know you are on a diet, but we are talking a small portion size that your brain will burn off during your next bought of work). Take 5 minutes to meditate or do a mindless task to relax it. Then take a 5 minute walk to get your heart rate up and stimulate your brain with the increased flow of oxygen.



The Latins got it right. There is a reason why they take siestas after lunch. It’s because that’s when our natural circadian rhythm takes a dip and we become much less productive. Unfortunately in the US, siestas have not yet been accepted as common practice in our culture. Instead, what we can do is plan to perform low energy tasks or take a social break during this interval of time instead of forcing our mind to work when it doesn’t want to. This will give our body time to convert that food into fuel for our brain.

Jabr, Ferris. “Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories?”
July 18, 2012.
Jennifer Birgl. Hands_Meditation image.
Daniel Reche. Walk Path image.


One thought on “How to Avoid Decision Overload

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Microsoft Project Best Practices for Project Managers | LAUNCH!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.