Decision Fatigue

Five years ago Kevin and I would avoid talking about hard things, mainly our budget.

Financial discussions made me nervous and defensive and usually ended in me crying.

Fast forward to present day.

Now we talk about our budget for 5-10 minutes almost everyday. No tears, no defending decisions….just straight numbers.

It feels so easy now, so why was it so hard then?

Answer: Decision fatigue.

Five years ago I was keeping track of a 2 year old and a newborn. Snacks, diapers, feedings, naps, cooking, cleaning, and repeat.

The mental checklist to go anywhere with the kids was exhausting.

Should I pack them sweaters? Do I have a bottle? Enough Snacks? Which shoes should they wear? How many extra diapers do I need? When will they nap? Did I put on deodorant today? Have I eaten yet?

At this time we also had a home. It had 3 bedrooms, a basement, two living rooms, a three car garage, and 2.5 bathrooms. We had stuff in all these rooms. So I was the keeper of the little people and the house, and all the stuff that came with both of them.

So then there was the “stuff” checklist whenever we left the house.

Did I close the garage door? Does the grass need to be mowed? Do we own a rake for those leaves? Was the dishwasher still running? I have to get the trash bins out tonight!!!

I did not know the term “Decision Fatigue” back then, but I knew the feeling. By the time Kevin and I had a moment to talk about important things, my decision making reserves were gone.

All the decisions went to the kids and maintaining our house and stuff.

I could not possibly make high level decisions and so I would often take the approach of decision avoidance. I will think about it or do it later.

My daily life today looks much different.

Yes, our children are older and need less constant care. This helps my decision fatigue a lot!

But we also intentionally simplified our lives.

Now we have a two bedroom apartment with 950 square feet. Less space to fill and a great excuse not to acquire more.

We have also simplified our stuff.

Less clothing choices= less laundry and easier clothing choices. Kevin wears his red polo every Friday….no decision needed.

Less toys= quicker clean up for my kids and less nagging from me.

Less kitchen gadgets=Easy access to items I actually use. And I do dishes right away because there are not extras of everything.

I believe this process of removing unnecessary stuff and unnecessary space is why our daily budget meetings and other important discussions happen now.

There is space and energy available.

Each decision we make in a day takes brain power and energy and these are limited resources.

If we use up these resources on trivial decisions like what to wear or what to do with excess stuff, the quality of our decisions deteriorates as well as our ability to make them.

Decision fatigue still hits me hard sometimes. We all have those days.

The difference is now I recognize it, acknowledge it, and evaluate how I got there.

The cause of my decision fatigue is usually too much. The solution is usually less.




  1. I appreciate the term decision fatigue and believe my wife and I deal with this too. We have too much stuff, but fortunately there will be some changes coming in the next two months and we are going to make decisions on what actually needs to stay. When money is tight, all too often, it seems we put off the hard talks about how to get around the situation. Thank you for sharing your experience.


    • Phil,
      Thank you for your comment. I am glad that you found this post helpful. I think a lot of us have decision fatigue without realizing it. Sometimes we cannot see it until we experience the freedom of less! Thank you for reading! -Brittany


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