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Decision Fatigue: What is it and how to deal with it

When undergoing a creative project, we make multiple decisions and choices everyday. If you run a creative agency or business, these decisions triple and can encompass not only creative and decisions about your own work but also the hiring of a team, their transition, growth strategy, funding and more. 

study published by management consulting company McKinsey in 2019 suggested that only 20% of organisations feel they excel at decision-making, so there’s clearly room for improvement. 

This statistic is due, in some part, to decision fatigue: where, faced with decision upon decision to make, quality and efficiency plummet. The sheer volume of decisions can mean that we start thinking through them and get crippled because we can’t detach one decision from a system of other decisions. 

This can lead to symptoms of fatigue, stress anxiety and mental paralysis. You might start specific conversations and quickly get wrapped up in general issues. Some people also act impulsively, eventually just making snap decisions because they want to move on. Others feel numb, because – with business choices playing out over months – they don’t feel any sense of completion after choosing. 

So, how can we prevent and escape from decision paralysis? 

  1. Cut yourself a break
    Actually acknowledge the mental toll of being a prime decision-maker. Leaders don’t take sufficient account for this as things stand. 
  2. Ask for help
    Differentiate between being the prime decision-maker and the only decision-maker. Educate and empower your team to make choices, and trust them when they do. 
  3. Refer back to your vision board
    Ask yourself: “will this decision enable me to reach my ultimate goals and dreams?”  Ensure your small business has a clear vision – with well-defined principles and goals to refer back to each time you make a choice. 
  4. Prioritise
    Decide on the small stuff as soon as you can, and schedule chunks of time to think properly about the bigger stuff. 
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