• Anita Chastain, MBA

Simplify Your Life to Reduce Decision-Making Stress

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

How many decisions have you made so far today? 10? 40? 100? Chances are you made many decisions–maybe hundreds or thousands–before deciding to read this article.

Large or small, difficult or easy, we spend our days making decisions to do this or not do that.

There is a downside to all this decision making and it’s called decision fatigue.

Research on decision fatigue has shown that constant decision making is exhausting and often leads to worse decisions.

Can we do anything to reduce the number of decisions we make without giving up control of our lives? Yes, there is.

It's Time to Simplify

When I left my corporate job, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and complexity of my life.

I needed to make a major change in my life, and I did. That decision ultimately led me to simplify my life.

I simplified first by making a major career change. Changing jobs was a good start, but it wasn’t enough.

That's when I decided to simplify my life.

What I Changed to Reduce Decision Fatigue

My life was too busy and too stressful. I didn’t manage my decisions or time very well.

To reduce the number of decisions I made and use my time more efficiently, I decided to overhaul my day-to-day decision-making processes.

Here is a summary of the four major changes I made to reduce daily decision making:

1. Create routines to make fewer decisions about day-to-day life. Effective routines put recurring, low-value decisions on auto-pilot.

I follow an evening routine to prepare for the next day. This routine allows me to make fewer decisions the next morning as I prepare to start the day.

I also have simple routines for paying bills, cleaning the house, and grocery shopping.

Creating simple routines to manage these repetitive tasks has made my life easier and less stressful.

2. Live intentionally instead of wandering through life. Identify your priorities and make decisions that are consistent with that. One of my top priorities is managing stress by living a simpler and slower-paced life.

As long as I keep this priority in mind, I can quickly determine whether a decision aligns with my priorities.

Living intentionally makes decision making easier and reduces the number of decisions I make.

3. Be proactive today to prevent decision making in the future. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. If I can prevent a bigger problem tomorrow by taking a smaller action today, then I will act today.

I recently received an email offer to schedule an oil change for my car. I could schedule the oil change online now and receive a discount or wait until after the discount expired and pay more.

That was a quick and easy decision:

The oil needed changing and I wanted to save money, so I scheduled the appointment.

When it comes to decision making, think forward.

Ask yourself this question: What can I do today to reduce my decision-making load in the future?

4. Don’t spend a lot of time making low-value decisions. Sometimes we put more time into making decisions than the decision warrants.

I was in the grocery store one day debating whether I should spend 10 cents more to buy a name brand product over the store brand.

This wasn’t about taste or quality, it was about 10 cents. This was a low-value decision.

The internal debate wasn't worth my time.

Think of your decision making time as a limited resource. Use it wisely. Don’t waste valuable time on decisions that don’t matter.

Why I Believe These Changes Worked

I believe these changes worked for me because I changed my mindset and my actions.

Changing your mindset without changing your actions is a lot like having a new car with an empty gas tank. It’s shiny and nice, but it won’t get you anywhere.


I was able to reduce decision-making fatigue by simplifying my life. Simplifying led me to rethink my priorities and decision-making strategies.

Today, I make intentional decisions that align with my desire to live a simpler and slower life.

How do you manage decision fatigue? Has it made your life easier and less stressful?

Please feel free to email your thoughts to anita (at) simplelife365.com. I may not be able to respond to everyone, but I do read everyone’s email.


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