Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Few Words on Decision Fatigue


Decision fatigue is a real problem- the more decisions you make in a day, the more you expend energy, the less energy you have for important things.

Making too many mundane decisions in a day {think: what should we eat for breakfast? should I run errands first or clean my house? what am I going to wear? what are my children going to wear? should I ignore the minor misdemeanor my preschooler is involved in right now, or make a point of talking to her about it?} can mean that you are far less productive and feel drained for most of your day. Yuck!

Unfamiliar with the concept? I recommend reading up on it here and here.

If you've never thought about it before, I thought I'd share a few simple ways that I try to eliminate decision fatigue in my daily life, as well as a few areas I'm working on changing towards that end.

Ways I try to eliminate decision fatigue:
  • Weekly Meal Planning. Every Monday I go to my kitchen, pen and paper in hand, and scan the contents of my pantry, fridge and freezer. While I'm making my grocery list, I write out what we are going to eat for dinner every night, as well as a small list of breakfast and snack options. This makes dinner super easy- just scan the meal plan hanging on my fridge, and get to it. I try to consider our activities for each day, and what kind of meal I should make as a result {mad dash out the door at 6 p.m? make something quick and easy, or use the crock-pot}.
  • Daily Routines and Rhythms. If you do the same thing at the same time every day, it frees up a lot of your will power for more important tasks. Some people fear this is too rigid- but you don't have to plan out every single moment of your day. Just having little routines can conserve sanity and energy. For example, as soon as we are done with breakfast, I try to quickly do the dishes and wipe counters and tabletop. Every day after lunch it is nap time. As soon as I put the kids to bed for the night, I clean the kitchen. Just like you brush your teeth before bed every night, try implementing your regular work into a routine that you never have to think about. 
  • Frequently brain dump on paper. I keep a clearer head if I've written all the tasks and ideas floating around my brain onto paper. It especially helps to make, and then prioritize, your day's to do list the night before. That way you don't have to think about it- just do it.
  • Following lists. This follows the last one, but if you make a list and then spend your next morning wondering which task you would like to do first, you are using up precious mental energy. Once you have made a list, follow through on it.

Areas I could grow in:
  • Simplifying my wardrobe. Concepts such as the 10 item wardrobe and slightly larger capsule wardrobe strongly appeal to me. Now to streamline my closet in said fashion!
  • Establishing a weekly cleaning routine. I've tried various routines with very little success. Surely there must be a system out there that works for me! I'm thinking I should pick one and just commit to doing it for a month or so, to see if  it becomes more effective for me once the decision making aspect is eliminated.
  • Developing more structures and routines into our day. While I try to stick with a morning and evening routine each day, I'd like to make a few more for good measure {since I've seen how effective they can be on my productivity and energy!}. At this point I'm thinking a mid-morning until lunch time plan, and also a rhythm for how I spend the kids' nap time.
  • Going to bed and getting up at the exact same times each day. So. hard. to do this. But so important! Our bodies tend to feel more rested when they have a basic rhythm to fall back on! I would like to go to bed every evening at 10 {I'm always pushing it to 11} and get up at 6. An earlier rise time would be nice, but at this current stage of motherhood and pregnancy I really feel the need for that extra rest.
  • Making a routine breakfast menu. My friend Jana brilliantly serves her family the exact same thing for breakfast, every day, just to make her life a little simpler. I love this idea! I'd like to have one or two staples that I make every week morning, with more special or involved breakfasts on weekends. 
I'd love to know: how do you minimize decision fatigue? And do you have a regular cleaning routine that you love? Please share your wisdom with me :). 

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