Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make in one day? I was curious. Apparently, it’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day.
Even thinking about all of the decisions I make in a day, 35,000 still exceeds what I would have guess — get up, brush teeth, red sweater today…no, blue sweater today, eggs for breakfast, don’t touch the hot stove, etc. We make sooo many decisions. And it takes time and energy to make decisions. So what if we made fewer decisions throughout the day? What if some things were already decided? Would that free up time and energy for something else?
That’s what my hypothesis is.
The less decisions I have to make throughout the day, the more time I have for other things. You know, the good stuff — quality time with my family. Me time. Maybe even a whole lot of nothing. Ahhhh, nothing. Making less decisions has recently become one of my favorite productivity hacks. The more I started to consolidate, organize, and save time, the more excited I was to find other ways to continue making less decisions.
There are a lot of options for how to make less decisions and I am just starting to scratch the surface on how I organize my life for less. I’m going to share some of the ways I make less decisions and some of the ways I aspire to make less decisions in the future, even if I haven’t quite incorporated them into my life yet.
Create a schedule
This one is the lowest hanging fruit. The idea is to create a schedule for all of the things you do weekly and assign a day and ideally a time for each task. If it has to get done each week, you might as well assign it a day and time so that you know exactly when it’s happening and you can remove it from your list of things to remember (and make a decision to do it).
Here are the things that have found a spot on my schedule — no more “when should I do that?” question!
- Grocery shopping, Sunday afternoon after Hayes’ nap, with Hayes
- Church, 6pm on Saturday
- Household chores, every chore has a day
- Calendar and budget meeting, Sunday morning during our lazy morning time as a family
- Workout, every morning 5:15am
My schedule for the “have tos” has served me well! And honestly, it’s served our family well too. Jeff knows that I grocery shop on Sunday afternoons and if he want something specific he tells me before then. Things we do together, like church and calendar + budget meeting — are on the schedule and they happen every week so I honor that time and can plan ahead for it.
Prep ahead of time
The big one here is related to meals. If possible, I prep meals for the week on Sunday after I get home from grocery shopping. This eliminates decisions (and tasks) during the week. Sometimes that’s completely prepping the meal that I’m going to have for lunch throughout the week (like my Greek quinoa salad). Other times, it’s getting one individual part of the meal or snack prepped — like hard boiling a dozen eggs or cutting up vegetables for roasting later in the week.
I also set out (“prep”) my workout clothes the night before. Sometimes I even set out my outfit for the next day the night before — mom aren’t you proud? Less decision making in the morning!
What can you do ahead of time?
When everything has a place, you don’t have to think about how to clean up and you don’t have to think about where to find something. You already know! After a while of building this habit, this saves a bunch of time.
Our fridge is a great example of this. Because our staples have a spot! There are no decisions to be made when we are putting groceries away or grabbing something for the meal. We know exactly where to go for it. Our top shelf is for our three varieties of milk, coffee, creamer, and occasionally a juice. The left drawer is for cheeses, right drawer for meat, the shelf at the bottom has our eggs and yogurt, and the pull out section is packed with fruits and veggies. Take a look!
When you have less stuff, you have less decisions to make about that stuff.
So — what can you purge today?! My barre instructor said that her and her husband use to purge six items every Sunday. We’ve been really intentional since moving into our new house last year about getting rid of the things we don’t need so if I’m being honest, six sounds like a lot of things to purge every week (or maybe that’s my inner hoarder freaking out!!), but I think it’s an awesome idea to pick a specific number of things to ditch each week.
Ok. This falls into the “I aspire to do this” category. I have made some changes to my wardrobe and purchasing habits, but I’m not to full capsule yet. I know many people that do a capsule wardrobe for each season and annually they spruce it up based on trends, but I aspire to be full capsule.
Part of what is holding me back is this whole pregnancy, postpartum, “normal”, pregnancy, postpartum, etc. cycle that I’ve been in and, God willing, will be in for a couple (?) more rounds. My size fluctuates and I’m hesitant to spend on lifer items until I know what my true size will be. But, like I said, I’ve made some changes toward a capsule wardrobe:
- I am more aware of what I truly love to wear (t-shirts and sweaters that are solid, striped, or an interesting texture, jeans or leggings, and sneakers or booties) and I’m not afraid to stick to buying those things.
- I purge the things that no longer make me feel good. You know that shirt in your closet that you put on once a month to wear, but inevitably you end up taking it off before you leave the house because it’s just not right? Get rid of it. Those 18 scarves that you use to wear, but basically you just stick to the same two on repeat nowadays? Ditch them!
My favorite inspiration for my wardrobe is Natalie Borton. We have very different bodies, but I love her style. It’s that simple, effortless chic kind of look. If you don’t follow her yet, I highly recommend it!
Make a tradition!
I stumbled upon this one because of a pain point I was having. Basically I hated making dinner on Mondays. I’m not a Monday hater, I actually love the “fresh start” feeling you get every Monday, but I do think it’s a day that could use some easy, no-brainer, no decision making moments. Like dinner. We always had our meals planned for the week, but whenever I got to Monday’s dish, I unconsciously scowled a bit because I really didn’t want to make it. Then this winter Jeff joined a bowling league through work and wasn’t home for dinner on Mondays. One night I decided I was just going to keep it simple for Hayes and I and cook eggs, toast, and fruit for dinner. It was a no brainer to make, it took 10 minutes to cook and clean up, and it was a crowd pleaser!
After that breakfast for dinner became a Monday staple for Hayes and I, and when bowling ended, breakfast for dinner kept going. I LOVE IT. And I think that decision-free, no planning needed dinner makes my Mondays that much better.
I think this “traditions” concept is kind of fun and could be implemented outside of meals to help you reduce decision-making. Maybe you make it a tradition that the first Sunday of every month is household clean out your closet day and everyone has to pick three items to purge. Or maybe the first weekend in May is family yard day. And everyone knows that you can’t make any plans because it’s all hands on deck to get the yard ready for spring + summer.
I challenge you to make a new tradition for your family that will ease decision making, it’s refreshing!
p.s. if you made it this far, thanks for making one of your 35,000 decisions of the day to read this blog post. I hope it helps you save time and boost your mental well being. xx – Sydney