Executive function and Decision Fatigue: The Rejected Snow White Dwarves

Executive Function And Decision Fatigue The Rejected Snow White Dwarves

Decision Fatigue is a hot topic right now. Both The NY Times and FastCompany have published articles on the topic and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg breaks down how decision fatigue affects your ability to create new habits.

While it has long been recognized that strenuous cognitive tasks, like taking the SAT, make it harder to focus later on, it turns out that “strenuous cognitive tasks” likely include decisions like where you want to go eat lunch. Essentially, every decision you make through the course of a day, no matter how small, will eat away at your ability to continue to do so.

There seems to be two basic ways that our brains deal with decision fatigue: 

  1. We stop thinking and make a snap decision.
  2. We blank out and do nothing at all.

The best part is that you will likely not even be aware that it is happening.

Psychologist Anastasiya Pocheptsova of the University of Maryland found that:

“Individuals who had to regulate their attention; which requires executive control, made significantly different choices than people who did not.” They fell to a more “simplistic, and often inferior, thought process, and can thus fall prey to perceptual decoys.”

So, keep in mind that your brain could be acting like a total jerk and not even letting you know about it.

To help:

  1. Create checklists to run the tedious parts of your job.
  2. Stick with goals you have already set when working through your days.
  3. Leave that tough email to the next morning before sending it.

Wanna know where I got these crazy ideas?  Check out these links:

Too Many Decisions Can Drive You Crazy – The Manhattan GMAT Blog

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? – The New York Times

Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain – On Amir

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Dave Domzalski