How to Reduce Decision Fatigue

Every day, we are faced with decisions that can range from seemingly minute to hugely impactful. Making decisions as a group is complicated even further by the addition of different perspectives, personalities, and opinions, so it’s easy for decision making fatigue to set in.

To combat this challenge, encourage your team to adopt these three methods, as described in a recent Harvard Business Review article by Peter Bregman:

  1. Habituate your work. Schedules and routines eliminate the need to decide what to do next. Try adding time blocks to your calendar to dedicate one part of your day to one type of task, such as “Processing emails”, “Research”, or “Collaboration Time”. If your calendar is public, this can also help your teammates understand what you’re up to and see when you’re available.
  2. Set “If/Then” rules. This creates a threshold for action. For example, a rule could be “If our team hits X goal, then we get Y reward.” These rules give teams shared goals and purpose, and align expectations.
  3. Set a time limit. At a certain point, when a decision has been scrutinized by the team, the other two rules don’t apply, and there is still no clear answer, the best way to come to a decision is to set a timer. By saying “We need to pick an option in the next 30 minutes” you free your team from the mental weight of drawing out the process further, and allow them to resume productivity.

The most productive thing your team can do is to make the decision and move forward. As Bregman simply put it, “As for my lunch, I ordered the kale salad. Was it the best choice? I don’t know. But at least I’m not still sitting around trying to order.”

If you’re struggling to make decisions as a team, we built a tool for that. Try The Decider, a web platform and Slack bot.

Published February 21, 2019