At the start of the school year, Academic Leaders make dozens, if not hundreds, of decisions. Making decisions is like lifting weights--you build your strength by practicing regularly over time, but if you try to do too much at once, you run out of power.
When we polled Academic Leaders about what kind of issues they work on as school gets started, 96% of our respondents said they solve problems that are both urgent and important: high stakes decisions that consume time and energy. If we go back to our weight-lifting comparison, it’s like you’re lifting more weight and doing more reps, and that means you’re tiring out faster than ever.
If we take away the simile, you’re stuck in what social psychologists call decision fatigue. Human brains expend a lot of energy making decisions, and as they run out of energy, it becomes harder to make decisions well. In other words, there are physiological and cognitive explanations for why it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of problems you have to solve. Researchers who study this phenomenon have documented concrete approaches to managing and minimizing decision fatigue. Here are three of your most effective strategies:
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