Some days it just hits. It can be as early in the day as 10 a.m. or noon, but it typically comes later when I’m tired and hungry.
That point where I can no longer think clearly. I want to run from all responsibility and I declare to anyone listening: “I can’t ‘adult’ anymore!”
Done, over, finished. No bills, no carpool, no laundry, or groceries. No permission slips, calendar updates, or household tasks.
My kids will ask me, “What’s for dinner?” It’s a simple, straightforward question really.
But, not in that moment. In that moment it sounds accusatory and demanding, forcing me to produce an answer that is well-planned and satisfactory to their little, picky-eating ears (which it rarely is).
Then come the questions about what we’re doing today/tonight/tomorrow/the next day/next week/next month. Question, questions, questions. The endless barrage of questions. My kids should really grow up to be lawyers. Their relentless question-asking would wear down even the strongest of witnesses.
Next I check my email, and there are more questions. More decisions. Even the choice to delete, keep, reply, or forward an email is a decision. Then all of the questions to answers within the email – decisions within decisions.
Yes. No. I don’t know. Can’t answer. Must go lie down now.
There’s a name for this condition. It’s called decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the state of being worn out and overwhelmed from making decisions.
Starting the moment you wake up and decide to shower or not to shower or choose what to wear, continuing through the 50 choices you have to make to order a cup of coffee, and finishing with the endless Netflix choices calling out to you from your TV during what’s supposed to be your evening, “down” time, decisions are demanded all day long.
In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal article about decision fatigue, the average American adult makes over 35,000 decisions a day. Thirty-five THOUSAND!!! That’s in one day, people.
No wonder we’re exhausted. And, as a mom, I’m guessing that number is actually low.
In my home, I’m the schedule keeper. So most, if not all, decisions related to the members of my family are filtered through me. I used to just make my own decisions. But, now I’m involved with the decisions of my husband and our three kids.
I’m no math expert, but 35,000 x 5 = my brain is exploding.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and make decisions for myself. Well, here I am, and I gotta say, not a big fan.
I blame the sheer number of options that exist today as a contributing factor to my decision fatigue. God bless all of the wonderful people who create products for us to consume, but it’s gotten totally out of hand.
The other day I went to buy toothpaste for my husband. For the love. Remember when the extent of your toothpaste, decision-making involved whether you wanted paste or gel? Now, in addition, you have to figure out if you want tartar-control, whitening, or some combination of the two, with advanced power or just regular while throwing flavors, baking soda, and tube size into the mix. Crest used to offer you two options and now there are 20. As I stood in the aisle staring at the shelves, I slowly felt my brain shutting down and it was only 9 a.m.
The internet is zero help for decision fatigue. When purchasing products, we used to go to the store and choose from the three choices on the shelf. Now we can ask Google or Siri and have thousands of links, reviews, and products to choose from. You used to ask your neighbor if they had an opinion on a product and now you can ask your FB friends and get 50.
As someone who prides herself on being a savvy shopper, this complicates my life immensely. I can spend hours researching batteries, when what I really need to do is buy some and get on with my dang life!
So, what’s the answer for decision fatigue? Clearly we can’t stop “adulting” completely or the 35,000 decisions I don’t make today are sure to become 70,000 I have to face tomorrow.
But, I do think we can simplify our lives by limiting the number of choices we allow in.
A smaller grocery store, a lunch spot that only serves one type of food, or fewer emails to deal with because we unsubscribed from all those lists. What if fewer choices actually made us feel empowered instead of frustrated? What if removing some of the options out of our lives didn’t leave us feeling left out, but gave us joy because we’re getting our sanity back?
We could make decisions quicker and spend that extra time patting ourselves on the back and resting in our saved mental energy. We’d no longer be paralyzed by indecision or exhausted by endless decisions. We’d be rested, present, happier people willing to “adult” again.
And by “adult,” of course I mean staying up late and eating whatever I want because that’s what I believed when I was ten.