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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Decision Fatigue--Does It Happen During a Disney Vacation?




“Decision Fatigue”?  I had never heard of decision fatigue until yesterday when a colleague forwarded me an article from the New York Times that was written in 2011.  Here is the link to the article, but I warn you—it is quite lengthy and full of science:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?_r=5&pagewanted=all&

It was the science that kept be intrigued and propelled me through the article.  And, while this article has many implications in my work life—making decisions and working with people making decisions that rival only air traffic controllers—I also connected this phenomena of decision fatigue to Disney, specifically Walt Disney World.

The assertion is that people have a limited capacity—energy, focus, attention—to make decisions and as that “power” wanes, people either go to the “default” decision which is easier, make no decision at all, or make a "bad" decision due to lack of being able to overcome an urge--think willpower.

While I didn’t have a name for it, other than telling my husband that I was tired of making decisions, I have felt decision fatigue both at home and while traveling.

Walt Disney World is enormous and, as us seasoned travelers know, requires some planning.  Maybe that is why we plan—to get many of the decisions out of the way before our vacation so that we don’t have to make them there wasting both time and energy.

And, even if we make many decisions prior to travel, there are still decisions that have to be made during a vacation, even one as magical as a Walt Disney World vacation. 

Is the potential for decision fatigue the reason for the recommended “break” in the afternoon?

The article also suggests that using routines and systems helps combat decision fatigue.  Definitely!  I see that theory applied in my work life, my home life, and definitely when we travel.  Previously, I had written about how an organized resort room saves time by requiring less mental energy (after the systems are set up)—click here to read more.

I can tell that this idea of decision fatigue is going to stay with me for a while.  My favorite part was the last paragraph.

“Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,” Baumeister points out. That’s why the truly wise don’t restructure the company at 4 p.m. They don’t make major commitments during the cocktail hour. And if a decision must be made late in the day, they know not to do it on an empty stomach. “The best decision makers,” Baumeister says, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.”

What this tells me?  Find a park bench and have a Dole Whip. . . or one of those giant cinnamon rolls at Gaston’s Tavern.  (Click here to read more.)

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