Are you suffering from decision fatigue?
Every single day, we make hundreds of decisions. According to research, teachers make 1500 decisions a day.
But every one of those decisions we make, drains us just a little bit more. And that can be a huge problem when you’re trying to run a business after a full day of teaching.
What is decision fatigue?
Imagine waking up each day with a charged battery – it’s your “decision power” for the day. Every time you make a decision – from what to wear, to what math lesson to teach, to whether to eat in your classroom or the staffroom – you are using up some of the power in your battery.
By the time we get home from a busy day of teaching, our decision power has been drained – and we haven’t even made dinner yet, let alone put any time into working on a side hustle.
When we’re experiencing decision fatigue, it’s extremely difficult to be creative, start new projects, or create plans of action. You can still try to work, but your productivity level will be low. It will take twice as long to complete a task, and you may have difficulty making decisions – or avoid making them at all.
If you teach full time in the classroom, decision fatigue can be a huge issue for your business
As TpT sellers we often talk about how to make time for working on our business when we’re still working in the classroom. But making time is only half the battle. You also need to have the brain power left to make that time useful.
This can make it very difficult to make meaningful headway in your business, because by the time you have time to work on your TpT store, your brain has simply had enough.
Tip #1: Work smarter (not harder) at school
You know how good it feels when your day is really well planned and prepped, and you’re not rushing around before the bell rings in the morning? Working ahead really helps to conserve your brain power and helps you feel like you still have some energy left when you get home.
- When you create your lesson plans, record them in a way that makes them super easy to reuse. In my teacher drive, every unit I teach as a folder, and every lesson in that unit has a folder inside it. If I have a pdf for a whole unit, I “print to pdf” the individual pages that I use for each lesson so they go in that folder. I link to all the videos and links I use, as well as my files in my teacher drive, using Diigo. I use an outliner for each unit I teach and type my notes right into the file.
- Batch your photocopying
- Purchase quality TpT products to help you with subjects that are outside your zone of genius
- Use checklists to help record marks while students are working
- Teach students daily classroom routines and create prompts for them to complete their tasks without reminders
Tip #2: Schedule a planning deep-dive once a week when you have lots of brainpower
Often, the hardest part of working on your TpT store is deciding WHAT you should be working on. Set aside a time each week (ideally in the morning) to do a deep dive on what your priorities are and what you should be working on to have the most growth for your business.
When you already have a solid plan for the week, it’s much easier to do a quick glance at your planner on Wednesday afternoon and say, “Oh yes, today I am going to finish up this product I’ve been working on. Tomorrow I will create the cover and pins for it.”
Now, instead of spending 15 minutes checking your email and social media and trying to decide what you should be doing, you’re already 15 min further into getting it done.
Tip #3: Create habits and routines
Think about decisions that you make over and over again in a typical week. How can you reduce the number of times you need to stop and make these decisions? By batching these decisions, you free up brain power and focus. Here are some examples:
- Setting out your work outfits for the whole week
- Planning your dinner menu for the week
- Creating a weekly routine for your business tasks
Tip #4: Schedule time to work on your store when you know your brain is mostly likely to be sharp.
The decisions you make earliest in the day are going to be your best. Consider your sleeping patterns and when your brain feels the most sharp. If you are a night owl and enjoy working in the evenings, then it’s fine to do that. But if you need to make important decisions, then you might consider adjusting your routine so that you can get up earlier and get some of your TpT work done while your brain is fresh.
Tip #5: Plan your tasks with brain power required in mind.
When you’re making your weekly plan (see tip #2) sort your weekly tasks according to how much decision power they require. For example, don’t waste your Saturday morning making pins when you could be using that time for outlining a new product.
I like to do high level planning on my non-teaching mornings. So I’ll do things like plan out a product, creating an outline of what specifically goes on each page. Then I can work on things like formatting worksheets in the evening since that doesn’t require much decision making.
Tip #6: Have a frank conversation with your spouse about decision fatigue.
This is the single change that has made the most difference for me. To be clear – I have an absolutely fantastic and supportive hubby who does quite a lot of the work around the home and with the kids in order for me to have more time for my businesses. He is one of the most caring people I know. But in a effort to be caring, he would constantly ask me for my opinion and preferences on EVERYTHING. So even if he was making dinner, he would ask me what I would like for dinner. So he was doing the work… but I was still making the decision.
It was like this with everything. When do you want to visit your mom? Do you want me to mow the lawn before or after lunch? Do the kids need new socks? Is it time to go to bed? Are these leftovers still good?
No wonder I was tired all the time.
Having this conversation with hubby to explain that I felt like I had an employee who needed to be micromanaged was hard – because he honestly thought he was being helpful, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. But when I helped him understand that the best way for him to be helpful was to remove decisions from my plate, the difference was almost immediate.
Not sure where to start?
If you’re not sure how to reduce your daily decision making, try starting with a decision fatigue log. Over the course of a week, write down the times and circumstances that you feel the most depleted. How can you adjust things to avoid getting so fatigued?