A good friend said to me a while back: “Close the computer and go walk the dog.” Deadlines were looming. Vendors were calling. Regulators were conferencing. Meetings were piling up; email exploding; decisions delayed…forgot to eat… smacked my fingers with the drawer… raining….
I hit a metaphorical wall and, just to be sure, I hit it again. Did you know that we have a finite capacity for making decisions in a day? That you can get “decision fatigue?” Psychologists and researchers have just started examining this phenomenon (officially called Ego Depletion) but many of us already know it exists and live it more often than we prefer.
Once we hit that wall, our stress reactions take over and those are different for everyone. Some will just start saying “no” to everything. Some will take the first options they see. We’ll procrastinate or avoid or use anger to deflect. Our brains continue to flood with stress hormones and there is no rest in sight.
That’s Exactly when you should walk the dog. Or colour with the kids. Or go for a run. Take a hot shower. Watch Jane the Virgin. Whatever will let you disengage for 30 -60 minutes and allow your brain a moment to process the chemicals from the stress. We can’t power our way through this; our brains go on strike no matter how smart, efficient and productive we may be.
Our brains don’t differentiate between work and personal decisions either. Once we have decision fatigue, the topic is irrelevant.
These days I’m trying to do my decision making in the morning, listen and research in the afternoon, and make a few more decisions in the early evening. I walk my dog a little more, throw in 10 minutes of yoga even as my schedule turns red, and call a friend when I need to laugh.