Decision Fatigue Makes a (Creative) Body Drag

We Fluid Designers use all sorts of tricks to remove time and energy from non-​​creative tasks so that we can devote them to creativity. But… why? Removing time, no mystery there — more time on the creative endeavors means more money, better output, or both. But why is it important to remove energy? You’re probably aware that doing so leaves more of those valuable creative juices at your disposal, but do you know why?

Decision fatigue, that’s why. Recent studies have shown that humans have a finite number of quality decisions that they can feasibly make in a day. They vary in relevance, of course: Burger King for lunch? Screw that. Kelly or shamrock green for the base color of Intel holiday partner marketing campaign? Um… uh… kell-​​… no SHAMROCK. Yeah, shamrock. (whew!)

That’s an over-​​simplification, of course, and the gradient of decision vs. energy is infinitely nuanced. But the point is that we don’t have an endless well of this stuff. You feel mentally exhausted at the end of the day because your brain energy is literally spent.

Hey, what a minute, I know what you’re up to…

You caught me. This a cheap ploy to extoll the benefits of Fluid Design. But dude, I’m not making this stuff up, and what we’re studying on this site correlates directly to this problem. Having to decide what to name the preview file that you’re about to send a client, or hunt down the location of the Align panel, or find the folder that the currently open PSD lives in — these are all mental-​​energy-​​robbing tasks that the FD techniques do away with.

Remove energy from futzing in order to redirect it to creating. That’s the main idea, folks. Decision fatigue affects everyone, but you can take the reigns of your own focus to lessen those effects.

Say it with me: DOWN WITH DF! VIVA LA FD!

Further reading:

The History of Cognitive Overload »

How to Battle Decision Fatigue »

Decision Fatigue Exhausts Self-​​Regulatory Resources — But So Does Accommodating to Unchosen Alternatives (PDF) »

by Whit

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