Our roles as executive assistants are inextricably tied to making continuous decisions that shape the outcomes for our executives and organizations. While decision-making is a vital part of what we do, the ceaseless flow of choices can lead to what’s known as decision fatigue.
What is Decision Fatigue?
Decision fatigue is the psychological phenomenon of deteriorating quality in decisions after an extended period of decision-making. In the realm of administrative professionals, this is especially relevant. The condition can manifest in various ways, from making hurried or flawed decisions to feeling disengaged and unmotivated.
Underlying Causes of Decision Fatigue
The onset of decision fatigue is fueled by multiple factors. Primarily, it’s the sheer volume of decisions that we, as executive assistants, face each day. Whether it’s determining the order of tasks for the day or making strategic choices for a project, the cumulative weight of these decisions can be draining.
Additionally, the gravity of the decisions can exacerbate the situation. When the decisions are high-stakes, our cognitive faculties are taxed even further, leading to mental exhaustion.
Lastly, personal circumstances such as existing stress or external pressures can further inhibit our capacity for optimal decision-making.
Consequences of Decision Fatigue
When plagued by decision fatigue, the results can be detrimental. Poor or impulsive decisions may ensue, undermining your performance and potentially leading to unfavorable outcomes for your organization. This condition can also stifle motivation, thereby affecting productivity and workplace engagement. Moreover, the physical toll should not be underestimated; continuous decision-making can be both mentally and physically exhausting.
How to Manage Decision Fatigue in The Workplace
So how can executive assistants manage decision fatigue effectively? Below are several strategic approaches:
Establish Clear Priorities: Streamlining decision-making starts with setting clear priorities. By knowing what requires your immediate attention, you can focus on tasks that are truly essential, reducing the cognitive load of trivial decisions.
Automate Routine Tasks: Use technology to your advantage. Automating mundane tasks can free up cognitive resources for more complex and high-stakes decisions. AI can be particularly useful in eliminating repetitive tasks, allowing you to concentrate on power skills that require emotional intelligence and creativity.
Delegate Responsibilities: When overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to other qualified team members. Distributing responsibilities can lessen your decision-making burden and increase overall efficiency.
Incorporate Breaks: Regular breaks are essential for cognitive rejuvenation. Even our CEO, Joan Burge, has shared her personal strategies in Monday Motivators, her weekly newsletter, which includes stepping away from the computer, getting massages, and taking refreshing walks with her dog, Star.
Time Your Decisions: Research indicates that our decision-making capacity is at its peak earlier in the day. Try to schedule important decisions for mornings when your cognitive faculties are most alert.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can refocus your mental energy, reduce stress, and ultimately enhance your decision-making capabilities.
We are all bound to face decision fatigue in our professions, but understanding its causes and implementing strategies to manage it can vastly improve your performance and overall well-being. As William James stated, “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” Equipped with a proactive approach and the right tools, you can not only mitigate the effects of decision fatigue but also excel in your role as an executive assistant.