Decision Fatigue: Timing Your Sales Cycle Tasks

June 2, 2024

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

What do parole hearings have to do with your architecture business?

You’re about to find out…

Parole judges spend their entire day deciding whether prisoners get parole. These parole hearings happen at random times throughout the day.

But there's a catch – the timing of these hearings can greatly impact the outcome.

A famous study looked at parole decisions in an Israeli prison system. Here's what they found:

  1. Case 1: At 8:50 a.m., a prisoner serving 30 months for fraud had a hearing and was granted parole.

  2. Case 2: At 3:10 p.m., a prisoner serving 16 months for assault was denied parole.

  3. Case 3: At 4:25 p.m., a prisoner serving 30 months for fraud was also denied parole.

Despite similar circumstances, the outcome differed based on the time of the hearing. Early morning cases had a 70% chance of parole approval, while afternoon cases dropped significantly. That’s a huge difference.

So why does this happen?

In the morning, judges are fresh and make thoughtful decisions. As the day goes on, their mental energy drains. By the afternoon, judges are tired and often stick to the safer choice of denying parole.

This phenomenon is known as decision fatigue.

What is Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue is a psychological concept where the quality of decisions decreases after a long period of decision-making.

Think about a long day of meetings, emails, and choices. By the end of it, you're tired, and even deciding what to have for dinner feels overwhelming.

This is because our brains get tired from constant decision-making, and it leads us to either make poor choices or avoid making them altogether. I’m very guilty of this - my wife can confirm that I am not helpful at all when it comes to making decisions about dinner after a long workday.

Why is Decision Fatigue important for architects?

So much of an architect’s value is reliant upon guiding clients through a series of important, often overwhelming decisions.

From choosing to move forward with an architect to selecting materials to finalizing floor plans, clients are bombarded with choices.

Recognizing when they’re experiencing decision fatigue can help you manage the decision-making process more effectively, helping you to increase win rates and client satisfaction.

4 ways to avoid your client’s Decision Fatigue

Alright, let’s walk through some examples that you can implement this week to make immediate impacts.

01 // Schedule meetings wisely

Research shows that people make better decisions when they are mentally fresh.

So meet with prospective clients for discovery meetings or proposal presentations early in the day.

By scheduling important discussions and decisions in the morning, you’re more likely to have engaged, clear-headed clients who can think critically about their choices. This can increase your win rates by catching clients when they are most receptive.

02 // Simplify pricing options

Instead of overwhelming clients with a complex menu of pricing structures, offer clear, concise packages that guide them towards the best value.

Streamline your pricing options using techniques like the decoy effect, which limits their options to just 3 choices.

Simplifying pricing can enhance perceived value by showing that you understand their needs and are making the process easier for them.

03 // Limit decisions in sales cycle

When prospective clients are in your sales cycle, try to focus meetings on 1-2 decisions at a time.

For example, during a discovery meeting, the primary decision you want the prospective client to make is to continue the conversation with a proposal and follow-up meeting.

(Note: Answering a pain-diving question like “How does that challenge impact your day-to-day activities?” is NOT making a decision - that’s just answering a question. Don’t stop asking lots of great questions!)

In a proposal presentation, avoid bombarding them with multiple choices, such as different concepts or materials. Instead, concentrate on whether they are ready to move forward with the project.

04 // Do outbound in the morning

Just like you, prospective clients and potential business partners will get a slew of emails and calls throughout the day.

If outbound sales and marketing like cold calls and warm emails is part of your business development (and I sure hope it is!), then make your calls and send the emails in the morning.

Just like the parole study, prospective clients (e.g. the “parole judge” 😂) will be more open to thoughtful interactions early in the day.


Decision Fatigue causes people to make less rational decisions or just dodge making decisions altogether.

To avoid the negative impacts of Decision Fatigue with prospective clients:

  1. Schedule meetings wisely

  2. Simplify pricing options

  3. Limit decisions in the sales cycle

  4. Do outbound in the morning

These small and completely free changes will increase your win rates across your sales cycle!

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