A client insisted on meeting me in the midst of a busy day. Fully booked, I reluctantly agreed to meet the client at the end of the day. We began happily enough with the usual pleasantries. But once we sat down, a monster arose from the deep. One problem after another fell on my lap, and I began to parry. Despite all my best efforts, we began to talk in circles. Exhausted, my better judgment, along with my defences, fell, and tempers flared. After hours passed by, we bid adieu, accomplished nothing, each left stewing at the other. Despite all the other good interactions we had, the argument left a lingering bad taste. When the file resolved, I was, I’m sure, as relieved as the client was, to part ways. There are better ways to practice law.
Decision fatigue is the theory that we begin the day with a full tank of decision-making gas. With every decision we make, we burn up a little more gas. By day’s end we are running on empty, and we fall into two precarious states: conservativism, by which we stick with the status quo simply because it is the path of least resistance; or irrationalism, by which we make poor choices. Any one who has eaten a bag of potato chips at midnight understands this plight.
So the tip: avoid the end of day meeting if there is any potential for conflict. It is better at the beginning.