Make fewer decisions.
Recently I was speaking to a GP colleague about the ways to protect oneself from decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a serious issue for anyone in a high volume, high turnover medical job. He had some great insights into the problem and the solutions.
What are the effects of decision fatigue?
In the short term, your decision-making ability gradually declines. In the long term, there is a risk of burnout. From your patient’s point of view, your fatigue could mean that because you have already made too many decisions, you will not make the right decision when it really matters. It is possible that this could lead to harm to a patient. Decision fatigue affects our ability to show compassion or provide patient centred care. Subconsciously we protect ourselves from too many decisions by caring less and being more directive.
My GP friend’s solution to all of this was elegantly simple: make fewer decisions.
His rationale was this: there is only so much that we can give and we need to choose when to use our decision making energy. If decision making is a finite resource then to use it indiscriminately is could even be seen as irresponsible.