“Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making” …and I’m so thankful that we now have a name for it, because I thought it was just me!
I think we’ve all been there at some point… it’s that moment of having to decide what to have for dinner after a long day of work. When you’ve used up all your decision making ability for one day and can’t bring yourself to make another one, regardless of how small and insignificant it is. So, you order the local pizza, even though it’s not really what you feel like; you’ve been trying to eat better and you could probably make something quicker… you just can’t deal with another decision and this is the easiest one to make.
In the process of designing and building a new home, decision fatigue usually kicks in when you find yourself in yet another tile showroom (in the very little spare time you do have), trying to figure out which tile to use for your bathroom floor – they all start to look the same, you don’t really understand the difference and you can’t visualise any of them in your house, so you just pick one and hope for the best. You’re not excited by it; not entirely sure you’ve made the right decision, but you’re at a point where you just have to put an end to it. I’ve seen this so many times before and I’ve also been there myself.
The ability to make good, confident decisions is the number one most valuable skill you can have when building and renovating… not the ability to be ‘creative’, or having a ‘good eye’ for design or knowing your way around a building site… you just need to know how to make good decisions… and lots of them.
So, how do we make good decisions?
Well, I’m not sure if I can totally answer that question… I guess the first thing to acknowledge is that a good decision for you is going to be one that is aligned with your most important objectives. So, you’re going to want to know what they are so you have something to guide you.
But there are plenty of people I see who get so stuck that they’re not able to make any decisions – this is what I call decision paralysis, which is caused by :
1. The fear of making a mistake and getting it wrong (also known as perfectionism)
2. Lack of information
When we combine these with decision fatigue, it’s a lethal combination.
Perfectionism + Insufficient information + Decision Fatigue = Decision Paralysis
So, how do we move on from this point?
Ok… the first thing you’re going to need to do is to let go of the idea of perfection. It simply doesn’t exist and especially not when it comes to home design. What works for one person, won’t work for the next. Your idea of a beautiful home won’t be the same as mine.
Design is subjective and requires compromise, so you can never achieve something that is ‘perfect’. You can only hope to create something that is perfectly aligned with your most important objectives.
Besides, as Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when it’s really just terrified”.
Collecting more information
If you need more information, then you must ask more questions, get more drawings done, look for examples to help you better understand the options that you’re considering. Keep collecting information until you feel like you’re able to make an informed choice.
This is a big one for me. I like to know all the possible options and all the details before I feel comfortable that I’m making the right decision.
Avoiding Decision Fatigue
So, if you’re able to shed the idea of perfection and willing to collect whatever information you need to make educated decisions, the only thing left in your way is decision fatigue, so here are some of my tips to avoiding it :
+ Schedule time in your week where you can focus exclusively on your project and the decisions that need to be made. Remove all other decisions for that day. Pre-prepare all meals (or decide in advance that you’re going to order that pizza) and reschedule any other chores, discussions or distractions that would otherwise add to your decision load for that day.
+ Try to tackle most decisions earlier in the day when your mind is clear and less distracted with other things that might come up.
+ Create a roadmap of all the decisions that you need to make and break them down into manageable chunks. It might be overwhelming to see it all written down at first, but it’s so much better than fumbling your way through it and not knowing what lies ahead.
+ Worry less about the final product and more about the intention and objectives that you’ve set for yourself – these will guide you to make better decisions and help you to eliminate options that aren’t right for you.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”. Get that right and I think you’ll be well on your way.
Happy building, Amanda x