Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Decision Fatigue

Yesterday at work, I could only think about one thing—how much I wanted to leave. By the time I got home, I was so crabby, the first thing I did when I walked into my bedroom is have a good cry.

Actually, the first thing I did was curse loudly and clean up the garbage that my housemate's dog had dug out of my trash can and strewn all over the floor, a mess which may have more to do with the cause of my good cry than my day at work. But that is beside the point, because the point is, work is really wearing me down!

I've been kind of distressed about that, because I've always been an enthusiastic and tireless worker (barring heavy labor, because I'm weak). I can plug away at design tweaks for hours without needing a break. I can spend a whole day trying to get a tiny script to work right. I can even commune with various kinds of trail mix for six hours straight without suffering more than a hint of boredom and a sore wrist. And for the most part, I enjoy it! But the work I'm doing now isn't like that.

The work I'm doing mostly consists of questions: Is it better to use these two modules that do just what we want or that one module that does too much? Is it better to use a template to display the whole page or a combination of a template for part of the page and a PHP function for the other part? Is it better to use a text editor with more features but requiring a patch to integrate it, or is it better to use one that works out of the box but requires a bunch of plug-ins to do anything more complex? What is the best way to document our progress? When a module doesn't work the way I want it to, is it better to try to rewrite it, or is it better to try and learn how to patch it? It's very little doing and a lot of deciding.

And deciding is one of my least favorite activities. Another good-cry moment occurred last year - on a vacation - when too much pressure was put on me to choose where to eat for dinner. I burst into tears in a shoe store and refused to have anything more to do with the restaurant selection process. There's a word for this (not the public crying, just the reason for it): decision fatigue. I read about this phenomenon in a news article last year. It causes some people to make bad decisions, and it causes me to become irritable.

So now that I know that I'm just decision fatigued, and I haven't actually become lazy, I can rest my conscience and my mind in the knowledge that this, too, will pass. I just have to wait until we've unveiled the website. Then we will discover all the problems with it and work frantically to fix them. I foresee a whole lot of doing in my future!


Geoff said...

It is more fun "doing" than to "be done."

(This does not apply to everything.)