We make millions of decisions every day. Small decisions about what to cook and what to wear and big decisions about where to live, what job to take and where to spend our money and time.

Our capacity for decision making is limited and in our busy world it can be hard to sustain the energy it takes to make big decisions, particularly complex financial ones.

When we’re tired, we tend to opt for the simplest choice, but that may not be the right one. And certain situations such as choosing between many different or complex options, making decisions that require trade-offs or deciding under time pressure can be particularly mentally draining.

When we’re time poor, we tend to focus our attention almost exclusively on whatever task is at hand, sometimes forgetting the overall picture. So it’s worth taking time to make big financial decisions. Here are some ways to do so, and get more precious headspace.

1. Schedule time for complex tasks

It’s only natural that we put off tasks that are complicated, we often don’t have the mental energy for them in our day-to-day lives. That’s why scheduling time for complex decisions is worthwhile. When you’re considering changing super funds, or reviewing your insurances, there’s a lot of reading you need to do, and if you have more mental space, you’ll be more likely to make a good decision.

2. Set up good money habits

Think about setting a regular time to review your finances and forward plan, then reward yourself for doing so. Our research finds that money habits such as being organised with spending, forward planning and being organised with every day spending is closely tied with high financial wellbeing.

Rewarding yourself for taking the time can make habits you find daunting into ones that are more enjoyable. This also means you’re more likely to take the time to plan ahead or review spending.

3. Get a second opinion

Sharing complex decisions with trusted friends or family members is another way to lighten the mental load. You may even want to make time to see a financial counsellor or financial planner, depending where you are at financially. Financial counsellors can help you prioritise debt, work on a budget and help you see what options you have. 

4. Automate your finances

To save yourself time for money decisions that really matter, it’s worth seeing how much of your finances you can automate. Setting up recurring payments into your savings can help you save money without having to think about it. And setting up scheduled payments for your bills and other committed expenses can help you cover what you need to on time.

If you’re with CommBank, consider using Bill Sense, which predicts upcoming bills in the CommBank app. And if you have a GoalSaver or NetBank Saver account, try using Goal Tracker to automate your savings.

Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Some terms and conditions apply to our financial wellbeing features – please see commbank.com.au for details.