It isn’t your everyday question, is it?
Do you audit your decisions?
It certainly isn’t a question which might come up while you wait for your Zoom meeting to start. No one is thinking about their past decisions with any great scrutiny, let alone discussing them with a colleague.
Today, when we think of audits, we think of accountants.
Of course, auditing is a critical part of the financial reporting process. Auditors provide independent assurance that financial statements are free from material misstatement. Their work helps to protect investors, creditors, and other stakeholders from fraud and financial reporting errors.
Audits are a check against fraud.
Before the current focus on looking for illicit behaviour, audits were there to check for mistakes. With the establishment of double-entry accounting, errors became harder to make. Auditing then evolved into what we know today.
Naturally, errors happen.
As Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive divine”.
His point was a reminder to critics not to forget making mistakes is a natural part of being human. For me, the quote serves as a prompt to our flaws.
As decision-makers, we make mistakes.
The creep of decision fatigue comes when we find ourselves making too many decisions. With an overload of choices, we end up making bad decisions.
Our great challenge is our biases—like outcome bias and hindsight bias—prevent us from not seeing the errors in our choices. What this means is we are often unaware that decision fatigue has struck. We stumble on, confusing irrelevant decisions with ones with real meaning. We don’t take our best fight to entropy, which is what we must do to give our desires their best chance of becoming reality.
Enter the decision audit.
Picture a list of every conscious decision you made over a day.
You will find a list of big decisions, little decisions, and decisions of absolutely no consequence. You'll find errors in the way you make decisions.
Left unchecked, you have the perfect breeding ground for decision fatigue.
Armed with this list, you can now audit your choices. It is time to question yourself.
The point of a decision audit is to understand the choices you’re making.
You can see how much time and mental energy goes into choosing what to eat, and what to wear—amongst many other inconsequential decisions you make. Equally, you get to appreciate how imbalanced your decision-making efforts are.
Big choices often get less time spent on them than those that are less important.
That's the window a decision audit lets you look through.
To end, I'm going to ask something of you.
I’m curious to know about the steps you’re taking to prevent decision fatigue, so if you have a couple of minutes, I’d love a reply to the following questions.
Many thanks in advance for your reply.