Ever stood in a cereal aisle, staring at the overwhelming choices and thinking, "Why is this so hard?"
If you've got ADHD, you’re intimately familiar with the crippling exhaustion that decision-making can bring.
Welcome to the mystery and oh-so-painful ADHD Decision Fatigue!
Before your inner voice screams, "Not another thing to worry about," take a breather.
This is not an invitation to a pity party but a call to action—a nudge to arm yourself with the tools to battle this invisible yet all-consuming beast.
What Is ADHD Decision Fatigue? 🥱
Let's kick things off by unravelling this buzzword—what exactly is decision fatigue?
Decision fatigue is mental depletion arising from making constant choices, big or small, and leading to inability to make additional decisions.
Now sprinkle some ADHD into that equation, and you've got yourself a cocktail for disaster.
Each decision feels like a marathon, where instead of crossing a finish line, you're stuck in an endless loop of shoulds, coulds, and woulds.
So you simply freeze. Or get very frustrated in my case!
This isn't trivial stuff, folks.
ADHD decision fatigue can be paralysing—making even basic daily tasks, like choosing what to wear or deciding on dinner, as complicated as negotiating peace treaties. 😓
Link Between ADHD and Decision Fatigue 🧠
Now, why does ADHD make decision fatigue an Olympic sport?
To answer that, we must dive into executive function, a term often linked to ADHD.
You may also find it referred to as executive dysfunction!
Executive function is your brain's command centre, responsible for skills like prioritisation, focus, and—you guessed it—decision-making!
In the context of ADHD, impaired executive function contributes to what's commonly termed "ADHD paralysis"—an overwhelming inability to move forward because making a choice feels like climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops.
What Are the Symptoms of Decision Fatigue? 😴
If you’re not sure whether you're experiencing decision fatigue, here are some telltale signs:
What is ADHD task paralysis? The sheer inability to make a decision, like a deer caught in headlights.
When your partner asks you what you want to do on your day off, choosing something makes a coma seem favourable.
Your ability to resist temptations and stay disciplined is at a record low.
Hello, impulsivity; let’s order a takeaway for the fourth time this week!
A cloud of confusion that makes it hard to think clearly or logically.
Smaller decisions often feel like you’re defusing a bomb - why must it be so hard?
The never-ending "I'll do it tomorrow" cycle followed by a self-inflicted guilt trip.
The more you have on your list, the more you feel inclined to curl up in a ball and scroll TikTok for three hours.
Your drained brain says, "Buy now, think later," leading to a shopping spree you'll soon regret.
But hey, that dopamine hit was worth it, right?
Your bank account would beg to disagree!
10 Practical Strategies to Conquer ADHD Decision Fatigue 🎖️
Alright, enough diagnosis.
It's time for some remedies!
#1 Simplify and Eliminate Choices
Cut down your options.
Do you really need 50 types of cereal?
Three solid choices are easier to manage.
Screenwriter David Lynch repeatedly eats the same meal every day, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously wears the same shirts daily*.
(*clean versions of)
To eliminate decision fatigue and focus their mighty minds on what matters!
#2 Implement Routines
Pre-decide trivial tasks so they become automatic. Your brain will thank you.
Numerous ADHD productivity tools and apps will do this for you - you can even ask Chat GPT to organise your plans, routines and meal schedule.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the process!
#3 Optimise Nutrition and Sleep
A well-fed, well-rested brain is a decision-making powerhouse.
Don’t underestimate the basics.
Food and sleep are core pillars to living a healthy life regardless of whether you have ADHD or not.
Pop the sugary aside and opt for protein-rich meals.
Get uninterrupted sleep and try to throw the phone aside a couple of hours before lights out.
#4 Strive for “Good Enough” Instead of Perfection
Perfection is the enemy of done.
Go for 'good enough' and free up mental space.
Also, perfect is subjective - don’t try to chase the unicorn that doesn’t exist. 🦄
It’s exhausting and a battle that will always remain unwon regardless of how hard you try.
#5 Focus on What Truly Matters
Prioritise decisions that align with your goals.
Using an accountability partner app such as Deepwrk can help you stay on track.
Different perspectives can help you gain clarity when you’re feeling overwhelmed!
And a bit of ADHD coworking could help you contain decision making to a fixed time period.
#6 Take a Break
Sometimes, stepping away is the best way to gain clarity.
It’ll boost your energy and help you find some light motivation to dive back in when you feel up to it.
#7 Make Important Decisions Early in the Day
Morning is when your decision-making battery is fully charged.
Use it wisely.
Box off the most important tasks first and get them out of the way.
We all have a list of tasks we’ve been putting off that we know will only take us five minutes to complete.
Make a pact with yourself and do them first thing in the morning!
#8 Talk Through Decisions Aloud
Talking it out can provide fresh perspectives, even if you’re just talking to yourself.
Chat through the steps with yourself.
Break everything down into bite-sized chunks.
Practice breathing exercises.
One step at a time!
#9 Flip a Coin as a Last Resort
When all else fails, leave it to fate—but only for trivial decisions, please!
Don’t go investing in property based on fate.
But it can get the motions rolling if it’s a tie-up between Nando’s and KFC.
#10 Practice the art of saying no more often.
Our people-pleasing tendencies take us down the road of fulfilling other people’s wants.
It can make it FAR harder to find the energy to determine what we want. It’s okay not to be everything to everyone all the time!
One Last Decision 🥳
ADHD decision fatigue is real, but it's not invincible.
With these strategies, you can reclaim your decision-making power, one choice at a time. 🚀
So, what are you waiting for?
Time to conquer decision fatigue and bring your A-game to the ADHD life!
Until next time, stay fabulous! 💥
Frequently Asked Questions 🙋
Where can I find more ADHD resources?
And in our ADHD Awareness Month feature we explore in detail the ADHD misconceptions and stigmas.
What does ADHD decision fatigue feel like?
It feels like your brain is running a marathon without any finish line.
It feels like your brain is engulfed in fog of overwhelm and you can't make any decisions.
Is decision fatigue a symptom of ADHD?
While not a direct symptom, it’s a common struggle arising from impaired executive function in ADHD.
How to prevent ADHD decision fatigue?
Strategies like simplifying choices, implementing routines, and focusing on what truly matters can help mitigate the impact of ADHD decision fatigue.