How habits can help combat decision fatigue

How habits can help combat decision fatigue
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Every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, our Head of Community Anna Dearmon Kornick hosts a LIVE deep dive into a different time management topic. Then, she opens up the floor for your questions and coaching.

This week we talked about using habits to combat decision fatigue.

What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue is the idea that after making many decisions, a person’s ability to make additional decisions becomes worse. It can lead to difficulty making the right decisions, impulse buying and other bad decisions.

It’s estimated that the average adult makes more than 35 thousand decisions each day. During the past two years of navigating ever-changing work environments due to the pandemic, it’s no wonder that decision fatigue is so prevalent.

Fortunately, the answer to decision fatigue is simple: habits.

Having habits in place means making fewer decisions. Fewer decisions means more decision-making fuel for the decisions that really matter. 

The anatomy of a habit

In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, he explains that habits are composed of three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward.

The cue is the thing that happens that makes you think of doing the habit.

The routine is doing the habit.

The reward is the way you feel after doing the habit. The reward can also be an external reward, such as a treat.


Use habits to combat decision fatigue

Here are five simple ways to use habits to conserve your decision-making energy.

  1. Know your why. When you’re clear about your motivation for creating a new habit, you’ve got the fuel to keep going when you don’t feel like sticking to it.
  2. Don’t decide, design. Instead of just deciding you’re going to start a new habit, use the building blocks and design it with intention. What’s your cue? What’s the routine? What’s the reward?
  3. Schedule your habit. Carve out space for your habit in your day. When you make time for it and dedicate time to it, it’s more likely to happen.
  4. Pair your habit. Habit pairing, (or habit stacking) is a great strategy for kicking off a new habit. Find something in your day you already do on autopilot and add your new habit to that routine.
  5. Tie your habit to your identity. James Clear dives into this concept in his book Atomic Habits. The way we think about and talk about our new habits impacts our ability to stick with them. Instead of saying “I’m going to start running,” change that up to “I am someone who runs.”

About the author

Anna Dearmon Kornick

Anna Dearmon Kornick is a Time Management Coach and host of It's About Time, a podcast about work, life and balance. As Head of Community at Clockwise, Anna is on a mission to help the world spend time on what matters.

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