According to new research people experience decision fatigue. After a whole day of deciding what to wear, where to eat, and what work can be put off until tomorrow you get tired—so tired that you may end up making increasingly poor decisions as the day progresses.
Turns out our decision making ability is a muscle and it gets exhausted—just like our legs do after walking up the stairs when the elevator is down.
This is a scary especially when you realize that our world leaders, officers of the law, and our favorite baseball players might not do a good job because their decision making muscle is exhausted after they had trouble deciding how they wanted their eggs that morning.
But there’s always a bright side. You might be able to take advantage of people’s decision fatigue to get your way around the office.
According to the research on decision fatigue presented in the New York Times, parole boards were more inclined to issue pardons early in the morning. By the time 4PM rolled around—board members were tired and were more inclined to take the easy road—maintain the status quo (prison time) and deal with less paper work.
With this logic, it might be best to ask your boss for a raise, promotion, or a corner office early in the morning—when your bosses decision making muscle is just getting warmed up and it feels up for a day of challenges.
Leaders should benefit from this knowledge. Knowing that decision making is a muscle prone to exhaustion rather than a constant presence can help leaders analyze their choices.
Whether you’re debating buying an extra doughnut or asking for a transfer—it would be wise to make sure you’re not exhausted.
Instead of diving in head first—this research should make all leaders pause before they make decisions or make non-decisions and maintain the status quo.
Pic credit: Ciccio Pizzettaro