All day, every day, we are faced with decisions, from what to wear to whether to pursue a new job. Even deliberating in the toothpaste aisle at the drugstore can feel overwhelming. The pandemic added even more choices to our daily routine, as we pondered safety concerns and time allocation when work and school came into our homes. Faced with too many options, we can become anxious or even paralyzed. This is “decision fatigue” -- a state of mental overload that can impede our ability to make additional choices.
When decision fatigue kicks in, you may feel you just don’t have the bandwidth to deal with more decisions. This can lead to depleted self-control, causing you to avoid making certain choices entirely, to go with the default option, or to make choices that don’t align with your values.
In a series of experiments, researchers asked people to choose from an array of consumer goods or college course options or to simply think about the same options without making choices. The choice-makers experienced reduced self-control, less physical stamina, greater procrastination and lower performance on tasks; the choice-contemplators didn’t experience these depletions.
We can't entirely eliminate decision fatigue, but experts say the following can help cope with an over-abundance of choices:
How do you cope with the feeling of having too many choices? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.