Decision Fatigue affects us all in our personal as well as work lives. In this podcast, I share ideas on how to minimize decisions at work by using systems and processes that help streamline the decision process.
00:00 Jacalyn Holsted: You are listening to On Point Conversations. My name is Jacalyn Holsted, and I’m a content strategist and marketer, as well as a marketing consultant for my own company, which is On Point Thinking. Today in my podcast, I wanna talk about something that I’m seeing more information on since about actually the start of COVID-19, it’s now coming since March articles on decision fatigue, decision fatigue is nothing really new. And it’s pretty much what it sounds like. It’s when you make so many decisions and there’s so much thrown at you that you get tired of making the decision and you decide to either procrastinate, you’ll think about it later. You get really impulsive. I do you think, “Oh, I’ll just do the third one down because that sort of sounds like it’s a little bit close to the decision,” avoidance, don’t deal with it at all, which causes a lot of stress, and then the last one, which is indecision. So when in doubt, you just say no, so you’re really not thinking about the decision as much as trying to just get the decision off your plate. In this period of COVID-19 and I actually, when I get into the tips that I have for decision fatigue, I’m gonna be talking about the work environment.
01:26 JH: But the work environment right now is very affected by the COVID-19 pandemic because we’ve had our routines changed. If you’re like me, you’ve had… All of your meetings have gone online on Zoom, if you’ve worked remote before, you’ve probably done a lot of that anyway, but that’s a new thing for some people working remotely. It’s also been a difference in going to the grocery store used to be just getting your car and go to the grocery store, now you’re kind of thinking, is it safe to go to the grocery store or at least I am. If you have children, it’s, “Do I do a play date? Do I not do a play date, how do I keep them busy during the day. Will, the child, other child be wearing a mask, will they know how to social distance with the adult with them? Keep them safe. Are they safe if they go into the local pharmacy?” So there are many points and things that have happened because of the pandemic that increases the decision fatigue and then lends itself over to the workplace, because if you’re tired before you get to work, it’s certainly hard to be at work and make those decisions.
02:34 JH: Today though, I do want to talk about some things that you can do in your work environment to help you avoid as much as you can, decision fatigue. The first point I wanna make is, making decisions at work, as I said in this COVID-19 even before can be very stressful if you’re busy and you have a lot of things going on, so if you end up… And this is just an example, ’cause it’s happened to me before, let’s say you’re interviewing people, you’ve got a new role to fill, that’s not your primary role of being HR or interviewing, but you need to fill this role, so you get a lot of qualified candidates, HR recruiters are very able to get you lots of qualified candidates, and you’re finding yourself struggling to cut down the list to a manageable number. So you might look at a resume and delete it because of one thing that’s on it that you didn’t think should be on it, or maybe there’s some misspelled word, which shouldn’t be there, but once you’re interviewing now, by the end of the day, if you’re interviewing a number of people, you can’t keep straight. And you might just select three candidates or three applicants whose name you remember, because maybe there’s a special name, maybe there was a special thing they did. So you’re making your decisions not based on the most qualified or strongest candidate, but on just the first three people you even think of. So we wanna avoid doing that because that’s not in your company’s or your business’s best interest.
04:16 JH: The first step that I am going to focus on or put up there today is focus on self-care, and I talk about self-care a lot, because the better you take care of yourself, the better you can be in the work environment at home, but now again, we’re focusing on the work environment. So as with any stress response, when the human system becomes overly taxed, self-care is even more important. It’s even more important to take those breaks, even more important to get up and walk around, even more important to get enough sleep at night to eat regularly. So there are all kinds of things in self-care that you can do, and I’m gonna actually blog post on self-care this week, so that I’m gonna just touch on it on this podcast.
05:04 JH: The second point is to maintain routines, and that’s maintain routines at work, you are in the office or at your desk at a certain time, you are maybe answering emails at a certain time, so that you have kind of more of a routine in place. Now, just as a little aside, if you have problems making these big sweeping movements, we all do, then you can look at the Kaizen approach, it’s kind of moving a little bit off topic here, but Kaizen is a good way to make changes, it’s taking and making changes in small steps it really goes back to… If you’re interested in the background. The United States during World War II, officially wanted to convert factories for war time production, so they use the Kaizen method, which meant that they made small steps, and over a period of time that made big changes in the amount of increased production. So putting some systems and processes in place, change is hard for people, so you do want to get a calculated… If you can… Small steps at a time.
06:19 JH: Now, back to a little bit, I guess I got off topic, but back a little bit about developing routines, for example, with my clients, I have status meetings every week, that’s how I start the week off. Now, some clients are on Mondays and some are on Tuesdays, it pretty much depends on my own clients and their schedules, but it is always the same time each week, it’s always on Zoom, and it’s always with the same type of agenda, if there’s any changes to the agenda that agenda, I send that out before the meeting, so people are prepared, so there is no real worry or stress, it’s a status meaning, and we know what we’re gonna cover and what we need to talk about.
07:05 JH: Now, when you’re doing things like social media or posting blog posts, and I’m going back again to the marketing example, content example, setting up a timeline is another way to avoid getting fatigued with those decisions of, “When am I gonna post, where am I gonna post? What time?” So that for me, I do things like for my clients, I set up timelines and calendars, so maybe every Wednesday at 2:00 PM they post or I post for them something on Facebook, and every Thursday at 3:00 PM they… Or I post something on Instagram or their blog post goes up every Wednesday at the same time and the podcast, the same thing. That is not only helps with decision fatigue in the work environment, but it also helps in decision fatigue for your customers or clients or potential customers, because they know when and where to find you, if they’re listening to your podcast, it’s a routine, if they’re reading your blog posts, they know when it’s coming out, so it becomes a trust issue for them too, it also becomes an easy way to find you, there’s not stress involved in finding where you are or what’s updates about you. The same applies to newsletters in any form of communication with your customers or potential customers.
08:34 JH: The other thing that could help with decision fatigue, and I of course very much promote this because I very much believe in planning, is to develop your content strategy and plan. Now, it can be very flexible, but at least when it’s in place, you have those… That information that you need, for example, you have your messages, you know your target audiences, you can focus on things instead of trying to think every week, “Well, what do I tell my target audience this week?” or “What are we gonna do up this week?” You have that basic foundation in place. Just kind of an aside and a content strategy, what I mean by that and what the things are that are included in it, and I’ll be doing a blog post and podcast on this too, because different people do have different things and there’s… The first thing is your business plan, so you want the gold you have or your current program, the unique value you’re providing, you wanna look at your obstacles and opportunities for your content, then you also have your audience, personas and content maps, which is a very good one for avoiding again, decision fatigue ’cause you know your audience, you know where they are, you’ve got specific content for those audiences, you know their needs, you have an engagement cycle in place, your timeline or your calendar.
10:00 JH: The third thing is your brand story, so you’re not recreating the brand story, you’re not moving in the wind, you can characterize your story and know what you’re going for, you can always be flexible in these, but you have the foundation again, and the last thing is your channel plan. Sometimes I’ve worked with entrepreneurs doing just the calendar so that they can mark out when their new product introduction is, when they need to get out and do the PR when they need to… And when they have that in place, timeline, calendar, the stress is less because they know when they have to get certain things out, so they’re not… Two days before a trade show, trying to figure out what they’re gonna take as far as an exhibit to the trade show, they have that planned and knowing that allows them to rest easily… That they have things in place.
10:52 JH: These ideas are certainly not an end-all to decision fatigue, but meant to be a helpful guideline. The next point I wanna talk about is you make a list of the decisions that have priority. This actually is helpful if you have a plan in place too, but you look at what decisions you need to make that are a top priority, and ensure that you tackle those first, that way you can get them off of your mind and have the most energy to make the most important decisions. I would also add to that to have some kind of a road map, personal road map for major decisions. So if you find yourself being tired and not present in a situation, then instead of making that decision, then take up a few minutes to walk around, take some time, maybe sleep on it, if you can, just basically looking at what are you gonna do when you feel like, “I’m overwhelmed,”and be very observant of what your behavior is. It might actually mean setting a block of time each month to look at the major big decisions and then look at the pros and cons of each. Minimize those low-stake decisions, reduce planning time and things that are just not that important, so things that you realize have very little impact on your business or on your team’s life or…
12:33 JH: So you’re gonna try and eliminate those and you’re gonna go through… You can do this with your team, but you can also look at what are those really low-stake decisions that I don’t need to keep thinking about or doing with, I can do a routine or a habit for them. Now, this is an important one because then I, as an entrepreneur, sometimes we don’t look at how to ask for help from other people. So really allowing others to help is another one, and on a team, it’s assigning clear responsibility, timelines, expectations. So you’re really sharing that mental load of decision-making across a group of people who know what their responsibilities are, or you might even assign… There might be, if you’re doing images for your website, you might find a colleague who really understands the knows images and you just assign that to… Or ask them to do that for you. So you’re asking for help. It might not be in their general job description, but if they have some time and they’re willing to help, it’s always a real plus to get that help, plus people enjoy helping other people.
13:43 JH: The last one I’m gonna cover today, although they’re of course, many more things for the whole area of workplace and decision fatigue is, done is better than perfect. So things are just not gonna necessarily be perfect, so what you wanna do is remember, you wanna be aware and not kept negative consequences, but you also wanna be aware that things just go… You might just have to practice some of it, you might just end up making some changes, but being flexible and knowing that you need to just take the first step and then go forward from there is really a good one to avoid, again, decision fatigue or even that procrastination, where you don’t do anything, you just wait because you think someone’s gonna come along with a magic wand and wave it over, it’s gonna be done, and that’s not gonna happen.
14:40 JH: So again, perfection, kinda put by the wayside, be careful of what you’re communicating, but… And be just mindful of the fact that it’s not gonna be perfect, they’re gonna be road blocks and things that come into play. So what I’d like to do today is summarize what we talked about. If you’re feeling irritable, overwhelmed or you don’t have energy, you might be dealing with decision fatigue, take a look at your big decisions and your small decisions that you make every day, and think about how you can make them a routine, or there’s a habit, or there is a trigger that you can use in order to make the smallest decisions anyway, very easy to do and almost automatic. ‘Cause by changing your habits and setting up the right routines, you can really decrease anxiety and conserve your energy for those decisions that really matter.
15:42 JH: Thank you for listening to On Point Conversations. Again, my game is Jacalyn Holsted. If you have comments or you’d like me to talk about another topic or answer questions about this podcast, you can send your comments via my website, which is onpointthinking.com Thank you.