I hate making decisions.
It isn’t all the time. I start out the day fresh faced, clear headed and ready to decide my way through the day. But by the time 9am rolls around I’ve already made so many decisions that I find myself stuck at: should I take the dogs to the left or right on my walk? There’s a reason I love shopping at Trader Joe’s.
There aren’t many choices!
You know the feeling you get when you read a blog post and think, Is the author reading my mind? It happened to me this week. I was feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and scattered. It wasn’t that I had too much to do, but I wasn’t using my time well. And then this blog post popped into my email.
It was about decision fatigue and all the many decisions we have to make in a day from what to eat, what to wear, what task to do next, and even what to do in down time. More and more I noticed I turned to Facebook, Pinterest, and even Zillow (no we are not looking for a new home) whenever I had time. I couldn’t decide what to do next and eventually I gave up and turned towards mindless distraction. Only to then get frustrated with myself that I didn’t get that assignment for my workshop written, or laundry done, or to the grocery store.
And the number of times we have gone out to eat in the past month is pretty terrible. I’d get to dinner, stare at the cupboard and just not know what to make. By the time everyone’s stomachs were rumbling we’d chuck the idea of eating in and go out.
So the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog post came at the perfect time. (She isn’t just a source for finding new books on her podcast What should I read next) but she also has great suggestions for simplifying our lives and homes.
Her suggestions went from making a daily routine, to always having the same meal to creating if then statements to ease decision points.
I got out a planner and wrote down the errands I usually try to squeeze in during the week and picked the day I would do them. Mondays are grocery day. Tuesdays are library day. Wednesday laundry day, Thursdays are checkbook/bill day. Fridays are a free day. Then I put in writing time. An hour and a half each day. Then my work schedule and whatever appointments I have.
Then it was meal time. I hate having the same thing day in and day out. I hate planning meals even more. I would end up in the grocery store throwing food into my cart and praying I could find a genie to wish not having to cook for the rest of my life. Since the genie never appeared, I’d do the next best thing and get take out, or the restaurant. Not the best idea for the budget, waistline or family togetherness.
So I made a meal plan I could handle. There was room for variety, but when it came down to it, I could make it as simple as I needed to. Mondays fish, Tuesdays Chicken, Wednesdays Taco night, Thursdays Soup/stew/salad, Fridays Restaurant day, Saturdays are Husband’s night to cook and Sundays a simple dinner of fruit, bread, cheese, nuts, dried meats etc.
I can’t tell you how it revolutionized my daily struggle with dinner. I knew what to shop for and I could be as creative or simple as I wanted. My oldest even made dinner last night because the chicken was thawed, the sweet potatoes just needed to be wrapped and thrown in the oven and add some multi-colored cauliflower for some extra veggie crunch.
In addition, I am making overnight oatmeal, so I can just grab it out of the fridge in the morning and for lunch it is spinach or kale with chicken. It is boring and easy and no decisions need to be made.
If, then statements also help. They can be about coffee: if I’ve had three cups of coffee then I switch to water. If I have had at least three glasses of water then I can have a la croix. No more sitting in front of the fridge and debating debating debating about what I want. The decision is just made. I even do that with free time. If I have time before the kids are home from school and I’ve written for the day, then I can read.
All of this has helped me stay focused, clear headed and better with my time. Which means my writing has improved. I’m not as easily frustrated with the kids and I’ve had a lot more time to just be.
There are so many decisions we have to make in a day. And to free our minds up for more creative pursuits, it is nice to put the more mundane part of our lives on automatic so we can do what truly makes us feel alive.
How do you handle decision making in your life? Free-for-all, planned to the minute, or general idea?