10 Tips to Combat Decision Overload at the Office

You have made your way to the top because you are someone who is able to make decisions – so how then is it that something you do so well is actually beginning to suck the life out of you?


Think about your brain like your cell phone battery. The more you roam the internet and talk on the phone, the more quickly your battery drains.  If your team members are using your brain power for solutions and answers to everything under the sun, then you have got to address it or suffer the consequences.


Not only will the non-stop questions accelerate the rate at which you become overwhelmed, it will impede your ability to get the job done that you are responsible for. You must protect your energy so that you will be fresh and best equipped to spend your day making the decisions that only you can make because if you don’t, the organization will suffer.


Here are 10 simple ideas to combat the stress on your brain that comes with decision overload:

  • Articulate concise directions on tasks and deliverables up front to reduce the number of follow up questions.
  • Establish the expectation that people take down notes to reduce the need to explain points again later.
  • Repeatedly use the phrase, “Are you clear on what needs to be done and when the deadline is or do you have more questions?”
  • Train team members not to come in with a question without being able to offer their own recommendation – and praise them when it is right.
  • Un-train team members from knowing that you will answer all questions by responding with your mother’s famous words, “So what do you think?”
  • Politely tell people when they have overused their allowance of questions/interruptions for the day – they may not understand that it is in fact irritating you.
  • Be clear with people when they ask questions that you expect them to know and deal with as part of their job.
  • Try using an IM platform to respond to internal questions – then the questions can build up and you can respond when it makes sense for you and won’t create unnecessary email build up or heads popping into your office. Skype actually works well for this.
  • Limit your ‘open door’ policy by allowing yourself at least one hour of quiet uninterruptable working time a day – separate from answering people or email.
  • Leave your desk for breaks that include sunshine, fresh air, water and NO BUSINESS.


Last and not least, monitor warning signs before your battery is nearing empty. When your energy levels are about to bottom out, permit yourself to take a five minute mental break – close your door, close your eyes and inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.  Even if this break requires you to delay a meeting or a phone call, know when you need a moment to regroup and recharge – you will perform better for it.

Spend the next week monitoring the questions you are being asked and challenge yourself to employ at least three of these tips in order to conserve your brain power so that when you head home, you still have energy to invest in your life outside of the job.

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