Cut down on decision fatigue with these tricks.
The little decisions you have to make each day really add up. But those choices that may be so simple to some—like what to wear or what to pack for lunch—can cause a major headache for adults with ADHD.
Experts call this phenomenon “decision fatigue,” which is the exhaustion that sets in from the stress of making too many decisions. (Here are other common symptoms of adult ADHD.)
If you can eliminate decision fatigue (whether you have ADHD or not), you;ll likely improve your productivity and energy levels, according to psychiatrist Susan Samuels, MD, of New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. Here are some tactics you can try to add more routine and consistency to your day.
Don’t hit the snooze button. Not only will this steal precious minutes away from your morning routine, but it also forces your brain to decide each time whether you want to go back to sleep or drag yourself out of bed. Eliminate that decision and just get up on the first alarm. (Easier said than done, we know.) Try the old trick of putting your alarm on the opposite side of the room so you have to get up just to turn the dang thing off.
Pick a work uniform. Have a handful of shirts and pants (or skirts and dresses) that work well together and make them your go-to outfit for work. That will eliminate the mental headache of assembling an outfit each morning.
Have the same breakfast each morning. Okay, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same. For example, maybe your staple breakfast is avocado toast or granola, fruit, and yogurt, but you still have the freedom to use whatever fruit is in your fridge that day.
Establish a menu of themed dinners. “Debating what to cook or order for dinner each night can be mentally draining,” says Dr. Samuels. Some common examples include reserving Mondays for leftovers, Fridays for pizza, and Tuesdays for tacos (of course).
Keep a running grocery list. Don’t clog up your brain by trying to remember all the ingredients you need to buy for tonight’s casserole. Write it down so you can use that mental energy for something else.
Be a themed gifter. For example, always get a book for your niece, a gift card for your uncle, a visit to Six Flags for your daredevil son.
Dr. Samuels is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and clinical pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and an assistant attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
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When you have ADHD,
things that seem simple and
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mindless for other people; like food
shopping, can wind up overwhelming.
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That's because ADHD makes it harder to
organize and prioritize tasks, focus and
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maintain attention, and
finish things in a timely manner.
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One thing that can help a lot throughout
your day is being able to simplify and
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make fewer decisions.
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Whether in the morning,
when you're rushing to get out the door,
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going from meeting to meeting at work,
or running around with your friends or
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family on the weekend.
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The fewer decisions you have to make
the less you experience something called
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00:35.141 --> 00:39.153
Which is when you overtax your brain and
affect your ability to focus,
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concentrate, and problem solve.
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If you can cut out the need to worry over
simple decisions like, what to wear in
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the morning, or what to eat for breakfast,
you save up your mental energy for
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more important things like
planning projects at work.
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So here are a few ways you can eliminate
decision making from your daily
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routine which will ultimately
save you time and stress.
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Stop hitting the snooze
button in the morning.
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Every time you do you're basically making
your brain decide whether you want to
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sleep more, or wake up,
wasting precious mental energy.
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Either commit to wake up when
your alarm first goes off, or
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just decide to set it for
20 to 30 minutes later from the outset.
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Pick a work uniform so
you don't waste precious
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minutes standing in your closet every
morning debating what exactly to wear.
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Select a few combinations of pants,
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blazers that look good together.
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Figure out a simple,
energy-boosting breakfast that works for
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you, say oatmeal, berries, and nuts,
and eat the same thing everyday.
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Pick themed dinner nights,
like leftover Mondays,
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sushi Thursdays, or pizza Fridays.
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Debating what to cook or order for dinner
each night can be mentally draining.
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Keep a running grocery list, and
do not deviate when you shop.
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If you always have to buy presents for
kids' birthday parties,
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pick out a go-to present and
give everyone the same thing.
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Maybe it's your kid's favorite book and
a gift card to a local clothing store.
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All of these ideas can help manage your
time better and simplify your life.
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