Ways to avoid workplace exhaustion

November 29, 2022

A doctor sits at his desk looking very worried

Nov 29, 2022

As a facilities manager you are constantly faced with making decisions—some big, some small. These decisions take their toll throughout the day. Researchers have a term for it: decision fatigue.

Studies have shown that the mind has a finite amount of energy for making decisions. Even decisions that are unrelated to the job (e.g., choosing your lunch order, deciding whether to have a piece of birthday cake) can add to this fatigue. Even if you are tired of making decisions (whether you know it or not), the decisions don’t stop coming, and this can lead to bad decision-making on your part. A fatigued mind is more likely to choose the safe path, favor short-term goals, or choose to make no decision at all. All of these decisions can be disastrous for your company’s future. (Decision fatigue also gives you less willpower to resist eating snack foods, which can be disastrous for your health.)

We see this all the time. How often have you watched a quarterback play beautifully during the first half, only to make a poor decision at the end of the game? Parole boards are much more likely to offer parole to prisoners whose cases are heard in the morning than those whose cases are heard in the afternoon. It’s no coincidence that the option to add rust proofing to your new car is offered to you at the end of all the paperwork and negotiations. It’s also why impulse products are located at the cash register in a grocery store—after you’ve spent an hour making dozens of decisions.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply put a limit on the number of decisions you’re going to make in a day. Unlike with physical exercise, there is no tell tale sign of decision fatigue. So, how do we avoid it?

Snack and take breaks throughout the day
There is a direct correlation between making poor decisions and low blood-sugar levels. Eating a piece of fruit can be a healthy way to raise your glucose levels and give you the energy you need to tackle the next round of decision-making.

Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings
Meetings are laden with decisions, even if you’re not aware of it. There is no way you can be mentally fresh for meeting number two (or three) if you haven’t given your mind a chance to reset after meeting number one.

Knowing is half the battle
Even if you take breaks and snack, you will not be as mentally alert at 4:30 p.m. as you were at 9:30 a.m. When possible, make sure you schedule your most important meetings or decisions for early in the day. If you have to make a decision late in the day, don’t do it on an empty stomach.

Delegate when you can
Decide which ones you need to make and which ones you can successfully hand off to someone else. Even choosing a lunch order can take up precious resources (practice this phrase: “I’ll have what she’s having.”). The first step with any problem is acknowledging you have a problem. Knowing that decision fatigue affects you will help you combat it.

For more information on how to be a more effective manager, contact Vanguard Resources