We've all been there....that moment when you just CAN'T make another decision or you just might scream. Then your partner asks what you want him to pick up for dinner. I remember once telling my partner that it would be easier for me to just make cheese toasties than to make another fucking decision.
This is called decision making fatigue. And I'm fairly certain that it effects mums more than any other group. Not only because of the sheer number of decisions that we make (often referred to as the mental load and our responsibility for this is another topic of its own!) but the types of decisions that we make throughout the day.
So what types of decisions do we make during the day? How do they contribute to decision making fatigue? And what can we start doing to alleviate that fatigue?
These decisions don't really contribute much to decision making fatigue - because we're generally not even aware that we are making a decision! But because we aren't putting any thought into WHY or HOW we are making these decisions we also don't know whether they are actually serving our needs.
Step 1: Decision making stocktake. Grab a journal and a timer. Spend 10 minutes writing out all the unconscious decisions you have made over the last few days.
That morning cup of coffee. Running the washing machine at 7pm. Friday night take-away. Driving the same route to work each day. Choosing a private OB simply because you have private health cover.
All those things that you do without putting much (if any) thought into it.
Awareness is key!
Now pick 3 (yes, just 3!) of these to review. Put them through a decision making process that looks at WHY you've been doing it this way and check with whether you need to tweak the decision at all. Would a change of route make the drive to work a bit more uplifting? Maybe running the washing machine before you go to work would be more efficient. It doesn't need to be a powerful decision making process, but just a quick, conscious check in.
These are the ones that usually lead to decision making fatigue. We KNOW that we are making a decision. But they aren't necessarily life changing. They tend to be mundane and repetitive.
Step 1: Time for another stocktake. Grab that journal and timer again. Write out a list of all the conscious decisions that you've made over the last few days.
These are usually the decisions that are actually formed as a question. What are we having for dinner? How will we get to school today? Where will we go for lunch? Will we go to the waterpark or the cinema this weekend?
Try not to get overwhelmed by the number of these. Just get them all out.
Step 2: Put a mark beside any decisions that you make more than 3 times per week. Now choose 1 (yes - just 1!) of these. How can you make this decision more unconscious / easier? Can you delegate the decision? Perhaps each child can be responsible for a decision each week. Maybe you can make the decision ONCE for the entire week / month.
Conscious decisions are tiring - The key here is making them more streamlined for YOU.
These are the important decisions that require a conscious decision making process, research, conversations and, a bit of work. But we don't make these decisions very often so they usually don't contribute to decision making fatigue. They are usually pretty exciting decisions too - so we enjoy the chance to make them.
Step 1: Develop a process for these BIG decisions. Many people love the BRAIN acronym - benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, next steps. Have a think about what sort of information you need in order to feel powerful when making a big decision. Do you like to talk to people? Read articles? Gather stats? Are you more likely to simply go with your gut?
Spend a little time journaling on this and getting a clear picture of YOUR process. Then record the process or create a decision making template.
Next time you need to make a BIG decision (buying a car, birth planning decisions for your VBAC, which school to send the kids to, whether to spend $10k on a business coach) just grab your template / process and get to work.
Powerful decisions are complex - the key here is to SIMPLIFY the process so you can focus on the fun stuff.
In the interests of NOT adding more fatigue with these tips make a process that works for you. You might choose to pick a day / time each week where you can sit down with a coffee (or wine...) and spend 15 minutes working through ONE step. Or you might kick everyone out of the house for an afternoon, grab a sketch pad, sharpies, and journal and map out all the processes. Maybe you keep a journal or scrap of paper on the kitchen bench and write out a few key ideas as you make dinner.
Whatever works for YOU is the right process.
I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you - what decisions do you struggle with? What processes are you using? What questions do you have?
As always - you are 100% capable of making the best decisions for you and your family.
You are powerful beyond belief.
Much love, Lizzie.
PS: If you want some help with decision making processes - especially ALL those decisions that need to be made when you are planning a VBAC - contact me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and can chat about mentoring that helps you make decisions with ease and power.
Powerful, political and personalised pregnancy & birth services.