Shelley Bassett



Fight decision fatigue with a jar of inspiration

Decision Fatigue: How to stop mental drain impacting on creativity

March 8, 2019

Fighting decision fatigue can be hard when you have a creative job.

You might have heard of decision fatigue before. And if you didn’t know the name, you’ve certainly experienced the side effects. The generally accepted definition is as follows:

Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

You’ve felt this, right? It’s the point in the day after deciding on so many things that you just no longer care. Each choice is harder and harder, and you find yourself spending excessive amounts of time and energy on even the most simple of options. And suddenly, there’s nothing left in the tank for you.

You sit at the desk, open the sketchbook and….. Nothing.

Fighting decision fatigue

Honestly, the best way to fight decision fatigue is to make more decisions. But it’s how you make them that will help you. Pre-planning things is key. But when you’re a spontaneous, creative type, how do you go about this?

Plan the mundane

Planning for the mundane, boring parts of life will greatly help with freeing up brain space for creative projects. This is mostly things like meal plans. I spend about 2 hours on a Sunday working out the food I need for the week, buying it, and pre-making food for lunch.

Not having to dash to the shops in the evening or brainstorm ways to cook mince after a hard days work greatly improves my evenings.

Have an ideas stash

If being spontaneous with your art is important to you, but you struggle to find inspiration when you sit at your desk or easel, this will definitely help your decision fatigue. And all it takes is a jar, some strips of paper, and a pen.

Ideas in a jar
A jar full of ideas

Set aside some time to brainstorm. Or maybe browse Pinterest to get you in the flow. Then, just start writing. Anything you want to try. Artistic movements, scenes, designs, media. Whatever comes to you, write it down. Then fold (or scrumple) each piece of paper into the jar. The next time you’re faced with the arduous task of deciding what to draw, that decision has already been made for you.

Get in a routine

Possibly one of the easiest ways to combat decision fatigue is just to stick your brain on autopilot. Morning and evening routines are great for this. They let you save the decision making energy for the important parts of your day.

Track routines in a diary or journal
Track your routines in a journal

Your routine doesn’t have to be long. Just a few simple steps that are repeated every day. This process can also help with mindfulness, as it frees your brain to process more complex thoughts and emotions as you complete each task.