Decision Fatigue: Why It’s So hard to Make Up Your Mind These Days, and How to Make It Easier

From the moment we wake up each day, we’re faced with a continuous stream of choices. Many are minor (which route to take to work), others are major (whether to accept a new job) and they all add up. When there are too many options, we tend to feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed or otherwise out of sorts. This is decision fatiguea state of mental overload that can impede our ability to make additional decisions.

Even if you’ve never heard of decision fatigue, you have probably experienced it, especially during the pandemic, which has added a new layer of complexity to the everyday choices we face. “There’s no aspect of the pandemic that has not thrown decisions at us that we haven’t had to make before,” says psychologist Barry Schwartz, a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and author of “The Paradox of Choice.” “Things that used to require no thought or effort now require a lot of planning. In the covid world so much is uncertain — we haven’t had practice making decisions under these circumstances.”

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