Episode 49: Combating Decision Fatigue with Nicole Liloia - Business Bites

Combating Decision Fatigue with Nicole Liloia

Episode 49 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: Join Nicole Liloia and Rachel Brenke as they discuss decision fatigue and share tips on how to combat it as a business owner.

What you will learn:

  • Understanding what decision fatigue is
  • Things you can put in place to overcome and avoid decision fatigue
  • What batching is and how it can help you 
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Rachel Brenke: Hey guys, welcome to the Business Bites Podcast. I am your host Rachel Brenke, and today I get to talk with Nicole Liloia, who has one of the most incredible topics, and I just … you guys know that I need help with everything I have going on, and my goal for having Nicole here is to help you guys be able to Batch Like a Boss, overcome decision fatigue, and be able to rock your business. So Nicole, thank you for being here.

Nicole Liloia: Thank you so much for having me.

Rachel Brenke: I’m excited. She also does strategy and mentorship to female entrepreneurs as well, specifically ones that are looking to scale their business and income through multiple income streams, which is near and dear to my heart, because I am a big proponent of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

After suffering severe burnout in the non-profit world, and she never wanted to go back to nine to five, she took time to travel and volunteer in South America. She started her first business in 2013, and she’s been helping women stop wasting time and start making more money since then.

She also has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia, and she’s written for Forbes, Huffington Post, mindbodygreen, and she never misses a Taco Tuesday. I don’t either. We must be sisters. Oh, funny.

Well, Nicole, I am so, so, so excited. I know that my listeners probably hear me say I’m excited a lot, because I am. I just love business, but this topic is incredible. Let’s just start off, like what exactly is decision fatigue, and then we’ll get into the batching like a boss.

Nicole Liloia: Sure. Decision fatigue is the exhaustion that comes around when you have a lot of decisions to make, and it starts almost getting harder, it builds up. It’s harder and harder to make decisions. As entrepreneurs, we have about 10 times more decisions that everybody else to make every day, and it just becomes exhausting.

It’s decisions ranging from what to wear, what to eat, to decisions about what to sell in your business, to who do you want to take on as clients, should you do certain social media? Every day we’re assessing thousands of things, and it just starts to wear on us.

Rachel Brenke: You know, it’s interesting because in the beginning of building my business, I used to take on all of these decisions, and feel like a boss when I overcame them. I hope this is not bad news to those that may be newer in their business, but as time has gone on, I get more and more weighed down by this decision fatigue.

I mean, so much so that I end up wearing almost the same outfits. I have the same shirt in like four different colors, same cut jeans in like five different shades of jean. It’s just simple things even down to that, that I don’t have to think about that helps to alleviate this burden.

Nicole Liloia: Same here. I do think the more decisions you have to make, the harder it starts to become to even make simple ones. Like the clothes, or what to eat for breakfast. The more that you can systematize the process, the easier it’s going to be for you.

Rachel Brenke: How would you differentiate this from overthinking, or are they the same?

Nicole Liloia: No, they’re definitely different. Overthinking is just when you obsess or overanalyze a decision or something that’s going on in your life or business. Decision fatigue is when you have to actually … are getting tired of all the decisions you have to make. The things is, that they can be combined, so if you’re an over-thinker and you’re suffering from decision fatigue, you’re screwed. No, just kidding.

Rachel Brenke: Right, right.

Nicole Liloia: You have to take extra steps to fix it, because it’s even worse for those of us … I’m an over-thinker. I’m a former therapist, analyzing is my job. It’s very easy to get caught up in each decision and overthink it, and it feels even worse. It causes a lot of paralysis in your business, and makes it hard to grow or be profitable.

Rachel Brenke: That was going to be my next question. How does this decision fatigue affect … I know for me, it gets to the point sometimes that I’m making even decisions about the most simplest things can just make me go, “Oh my god, I can’t do this,” to the point that I don’t make decisions on anything then.

Nicole Liloia: Right. That’s what happens. It sort of overflows into all areas of your life, and it also just makes you lose your confidence because when you feel you can’t commit to something, or you can’t make a decision quickly … or I think that we get caught up in small decisions, it just really affects you in feeling like a boss. It affects you in being a leader, and it makes it hard for you to show up in your business and feel good about it.

Rachel Brenke: You know, one of the things that I have done that’s been the best thing in my business was to get other team members. Obviously, always people that teach business, entrepreneurs talk about to scale you need help, you need to outsource, but for me, it’s not even just because I need more hours in the day, it’s literally so that they can take these decisions for me, and I don’t have to think about it.

For example, I have a Customer Service Manager. That’s 100% they focus on email support, our community support, and we meet probably monthly, weekly, but like on a quarterly basis, we really sit down. There’s a list of 20 to 30 things that I say, “These are items that I want you to take ownership of, that I want you to have the discretion.”

For example, if a customer had an issue with a download, I’ll say, “You make the decision if you want to give them a partial refund or another product.” It’s little things like that, so that I don’t even have to think about it. Then she just brings me all these issues at one time in our regular meetings, for us to address to fix going forward.

It has helped my brain so much to be able to not just focus, but to get out of this decision fatigue. Then it also allows my team members to have ownership over a task. They get to be the boss of that task.

Nicole Liloia: Yes, I love that. I really see a lot of women struggling because they are trying to control every decision in their business, and they’re not giving ownership to other people, and they’re struggling with perfectionist tendencies and things like that. I do think it’s really important, because I think all those build up to the decision fatigue, and the stress, and the overwhelm, and the burnout, and have serious long-term negative effects on your business growth.

I love that you’re doing that. I also have an admin who is my right hand, who I tell her … Now that we’ve worked together for a little while, and even from the start, I was very clear. I was like, “Let me know if I’m doing things in a crazy way. Don’t be afraid to break that out to me. I don’t know sometimes.” Sometimes you need that person on the outside to really say, “You’re not working in the most effective way possible.”

Rachel Brenke: You know, it’s funny, is you probably spoke with mine, my Pam. All my friends that are entrepreneurs try to poach her from me, because she’s so much more than an Executive Assistant, she actually tells people that she’s the Rachel Brenke wrangler, because she does exactly like what you just talked about. She’s able to reign me in when I get maybe too overboard on one thing, or I become exhausted on decisions. She takes things from me.

She helps to keep the balance not just business wise, but also personal, because she’s been around since the very beginning. She was actually one of my very first clients, and so she knows my business, she’s grown with me, she knows what makes me tick, she knows when I tell her she’s fired that I don’t really mean it, and she comes back to work the next day. I know when she quits, she’s coming back the next day.

What would your tips be though for people … like you and I are both blessed to have somebody like that, if they’re like, “Okay, I’ve got decision fatigue. I need help to reduce that. I want someone else to help me make decisions.” How can they find somebody like that? I feel like I got lucky with her because she was one of my clients, and then the relationship just developed from there.

Nicole Liloia: Right. I mean, the way I found my person is through another entrepreneur friend. If you are just looking for part-time hours, you guys can share someone with your friends, ask who they’re using, who has extra hours. I like personal recommendations, I think that’s one of the best ways. But of course, just asking around in Facebook groups, or looking on services like Upwork, or Fiverr, or things like that. I recommend getting started with even just getting some small projects off your plate if you’re not ready to commit to someone.

Rachel Brenke: And you know, not even just not committing to someone specifically, but just committing to this idea of outsourcing these kind of tasks, because if you are laden down with decision fatigue, this is another decision you have to make. Start small and go through that pain, and then … I’m more partial to testing out …

I’ve admitted this in the podcast before, that management’s not my strong suit, and so I’ve been really working to grow and do that, but the only way that I’ve been able to develop myself without ruining relationships or bogging down the business has been like what you said, get on to Upwork or one of those places, and start small, and start specific with a project task. Like with Pam, she started with just … she was just the Community Manager. Actually no, she was an admin. Then she progressed to Community Manager, and she’s just flown up the ranks as she’s learned, and I’ve been able to learn to be a manager.

What I also love about her that hopefully you guys can instill into your interview and seeking process is someone who’s willing to stand up and say, “Okay, these tasks, A, B, and C don’t need your fingers. Let me take this over.” If I’m having to do 100% management, that kind of defeats the purpose.

Nicole Liloia: Right, right, right. It doesn’t think you as the owner of your business needs to also make it clear to people that it’s safe for them to do that.

Rachel Brenke: Yes, yes. Yeah, and even that’s difficult, because especially if you’ve never been in a managerial type position before, you may not necessarily know how to approach that. As we’re talking about this, I think I need to have an entire series on just management, but I feel like I still make mistakes every day, and I’m still learning with it.

The biggest thing is, I still would rather take those few little mistakes and have someone that offers me grace and understanding that I’m learning, in order for them to be able to alleviate this decision fatigue and to expand my hours. That’s what Pam thrives on. She loves that she’s able to provide that, and that’s the … Many times I’ll just say to her, “I don’t know, make it happen. I trust you,” and she’s totally cool with running with it.

Nicole Liloia: Yeah. I think that what you’re talking about is also really important when it comes to decision fatigue and over-thinking. It’s better to actually take action and make a few mistakes and adjust, than to be stuck just thinking about it, or not acting out of fear.

Rachel Brenke: Yes, yes. It’s the whole idea of the low hanging fruit, or minimum viable product. You mentioned earlier this paralysis. I see that in so many entrepreneurs, especially when they’re early on their business, because in their mind, they’re thinking, “I am coming out the gate. I am showing myself to the world that I’m going to do this.”

They’re afraid of making little mistakes, because they’re afraid of how they’ll be perceived, or maybe it’ll turn into failure, and I cannot tell you, I have a friend, bless her heart, she’s a smart entrepreneur. She is so paralyzed on it having to be perfect, it has now been five to six years, and she’s nowhere near where she could be if she would allow herself to have a typo here, or maybe that’s not the best defined brand looking page possible, but to have something out there.

Nicole Liloia: Yes, totally. I absolutely agree with you. I think that that’s exactly people who are getting decision fatigue. They’re letting tons of decisions pile up, and then it seems impossible to get started anywhere.

Rachel Brenke: One of my big issues with decision fatigue is because not just the business side, I feel like that’s relatively easy to cure, like we talked about, get someone to help, but when it’s everything else in your life. When you’re having to make decisions over parenting, or your interpersonal relationships with friends, or with your spouse or partner, do you have any tips for how to help alleviate the stress and the fatigue on that side?

Nicole Liloia: Yeah, I think that you really want to be specific with your schedule, and really make sure that there’s time worked in for these certain areas of your life. Another way to cut back on the decision fatigue is to schedule things in a way that you’re doing a lot of the same tasks at one time, whether that’s in your personal life or in your business life.

When you’re cleaning, that you’re cleaning the whole house with your partner, and it’s not trying to catch up every day. That way, you’re really being consistent with things, and you’re not multitasking and contributing to the overall.

Rachel Brenke: You know it’s funny, my husband and I always joke that we’re really like 80-year-old people in 33-year-old bodies, but because we eat the same thing for breakfast pretty much, our schedule is the exact same way. When I get up, he knows what path I’m going to take to walk across the floor. It’s because for me, it reduces that stress. I know what I’m going to do. Then same thing what you said, scheduling it out, and batching, doing a lot of the same tasks at the same time alleviates that stress.

It keeps me from just sitting at my desk, spinning in my chair, wondering what I’m going to do for that day, and then getting distracted on Facebook with little dog videos. I’m a big proponent of batching. What are your tips that you’ve given to entrepreneurs that if maybe they don’t even truly understand what we’re talking about with batching, what it is and how they can integrate it to help reduce a lot of this fatigue?

Nicole Liloia: Yeah, so batching is just like you said, doing the same task over and over again in a certain amount of time, rather than multitasking 10 different tasks, which we love to do, and trying to do them all at one time. It’s thinking about social media, it’s creating all your social media content for maybe a month, or creating all your Facebook posts in a couple of hours, blocking off time for that, and doing that, and getting it all done in one shot, and not having to think about it again for another 30 days.

Rather than thinking about multiple things every day, your social media, your selling, your everything, your visibility, emailing your list, you get a bunch of things done, the same tasks done at one time, and then you’re set for a long time. Even for me, one thing that I love to batch is podcast outreach and submissions and guest blogging. It’s so easy, because then I’m full of ideas on what I want to talk about, I can send them to people. I do a ton in a row, and I get more momentum that way too.

Rachel Brenke: You know, and it’s interesting, because I’m in the middle of a batch right now with a lot of podcast interviews, and all these educational video recordings for the website. This sounds so minor, but it’s such a big stress, but it’s the fact that I can batch, and my hair can be on fire for one month, then I know I only have to wash and dry my hair and put on a bra and pants for the interviews for one month.

The rest of the year until the next batching time, and you laugh, and you probably agree with me on this, but there is stress in trying to fit in to make sure I look camera presentable, versus just regular day presentable. For me, just taking out that stress helps me to power through that month of getting a whole bunch of stuff done, and then it’s nice to kind of have the rest of the year to live in my yoga pants and my topknot.

Nicole Liloia: Absolutely. I think even when you think about it over a day, if you’re over a day trying to write an email to your list, do a couple of client calls, then do a sales call, you need almost like 15 to 20 minute buffers in between each one of those things to switch over to the task and get in that mindset, so you’re wasting hours over your week that way, switching things, and getting into a different kind of mindset or brain, whereas if you are doing the same task for two or three hours, you can cut out that time, that switching time.

Rachel Brenke: Agreed, agreed. The exercise I always recommend to people when they’re identifying this lost time that you’re talking about is that it’s much like dieting. You want to account for every single minute for the day, and so I always encourage my clients to take a piece of paper, and for two days, write down everything you do and the amount of time, and to be fully honest, because like with dieting, you may be coasting along without writing anything, and you’re like, “Oh, why am I not losing weight?”

Well, then you realize when you start writing it down, that you ate three Snickers instead of one. That might be why you’re not losing weight. It’s the same thing when it comes to time. You may be like, “I don’t feel like … I’m not getting anything done. Why is that?” Because you had to hard core write on that piece of paper, “Spent 15 minutes watching dog videos on Facebook,” or switching tasks, like you said, moving from one to the other.

This is especially important, circling back around to how you mentioned that you worked with women to have multiple income streams. I have to batch the schedule, or I would not be able to have the multiple brands that I do. I can’t switch from one to the other in one day effectively and successfully at all.

Nicole Liloia: Yes, that’s totally the case. I definitely think that’s something we initially really assess when I’m working with my clients is what are they doing, what tasks are taking too much time because the truth is, you do have to have a different mindset for each income stream, so you want to be able to really be prepared to do that.

Rachel Brenke: And it’s being protective of yourself. This is all at the end of the day protecting your stress, your mind, because on top of the decision fatigue, I start to become just tired, can’t make a decision, but I also then end my day being really stressed out thinking about all the stuff I didn’t get done, all the stuff I didn’t make a decision on, and it just spirals. Then it starts creeping into my home life, and it’s no good for anybody. When mom is not happy, no one’s happy.

Nicole Liloia: For sure. It really is true.

Rachel Brenke: Well Nicole, thank you so much. I hope this encourages the audience to batch. I want you guys to check out Nicole’s website. I’m going to have all the show notes and everything at rachelbrenke.com/epi49. I’m going to link her Batch Like a Boss cheat sheet. I want you guys to download this, go through it, and then come back and give us feedback, and let us know how it’s changed your business.

I promise if you commit to the exercise I mentioned in this episode of writing where all your time goes, and then trying out batching for a couple weeks, a full quarter, I promise you’re going to see a return on your time and your efforts. I really want you guys to integrate this. No matter what industry you’re in, you cannot live being fatigued, decision fatigued, or just not getting anything done. So Nicole, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate your time.

Nicole Liloia: Thanks for having me.

Featured Guest & Resources

Nicole Liloia provides strategy + mentorship to women entrepreneurs who want to scale their business and income through multiple income streams. After suffering severe burnout in the non-profit world and refusing to ever return to a 9-5, she took time to travel and volunteer in South America. She started her first business in 2013 and has been helping women stop wasting time and start making more money since then. Nicole got her master’s in Social Work at Columbia University and has written for Forbes, Huffington Post, and MindBodyGreen. She’s obsessed with entrepreneurship, women becoming wealthy, Apothic wine, and never misses a Taco Tuesday.

You can find Nicole’s resources here:

Batch Like a Boss Guide

Nicole’s Website

About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

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