Decision fatigue is a real sensation. Exhaustion in making decisions simply means that the more decisions we make, the more challenged we are making our next decision. For me, my decision making power is more juiced up earlier in the day. As humans we do have a finite limit to our daily willpower and our energy to evaluate choices and solidify a selection. Often the clutter in our environments is a direct result of decision fatigue.
Imagine your cell phone and its capacity. If we start our days with our cell phone battery at 100%, it declines throughout the day. In the same way, our mental charge or potential energy is depleted as we spend energy as the day progresses.
Many of our decisions are minute. Do I want to get up now or wait another 10 minutes? Should I check my phone or read my Bible first? What do I wear? What needs to packed? Should I change the sheets on my bed today or wait until Monday? What is for breakfast? Do I have time for coffee? Did I fill my gas tank? Are my words being kind? Who do I need to call back from yesterday?
And so the decision making continues into our day.
With every decision made, our decision-making reserve decreases. Our capacity for decision making is reduced if we are tired or hungry. Our willpower and potential to make good decisions is definitely affected by these things along with tiredness as the day wanes.
This is why we opt for poor food choices, leave wet clothes in the washer, choose to veg on the couch instead of taking a walk, drop clothes on the floor instead of hanging them up, delay putting the dishes away in the dishwasher which leads to a build up on dirty dishes in the sink and so it goes. At this point, we seek the path of least resistance. This weariness creates clutter.
How can our decision-making reserve develop a better battery life?
How can we minimize less important decisions so we can save our mental energy for more important decisions?
How can we combat the growing clutter that is often left for a later decision?
- Simplify. Evaluate each area of your surroundings at home, in your car and at work. Everything in your space competes for your attention. When aiming to de-clutter, mentally sort it into categories or my favorite idea, zones. Start with your own clutter before cleaning through others things. The exception for this is if you are the parent. Then everything is virtually your responsibility. In my world, I recruit all parties who use a space to participate in the cleanup or decluttering. This contribution chart system guides parents to teach their children to do contributions. A recent blog, Mom Secrets for a More Peaceful Ride, offers easy-to-implement ideas for creating peace in your car whether you have kids or are just traveling alone.
- Plan ahead. Decide ahead of time. For example, decide what you will eat. Meal planning eliminates daily stress by encouraging food choices to be made well ahead of time. Streamline your meal planning. Eliminate the last minute chaos. Decide what you will wear the night before. Or organize outfits with accessories for the week ahead. Pack your bags for the next day before you go to bed. If possible, load your car the night before. Set the coffee pot the night before so all you have to do is press a button for start. If you identify what is important and live intentionally, you will live a much better everyday. Your decision making energy will be reserved for the most important things. Maximize your potential. If you are a parent, guide your children to everyday habits like this. If you teach them to prepare, to plan and execute ahead, they have the potential to live their better life.
- Identify areas that are just driving you crazy. Make a physical list of areas that are needing to be uncluttered. Start with a drawer or a closet first. Start small so you can feel the power or living with less. Celebrate progress.
- Slow your everyday. If you are running at full speed, look for ways to eliminate things. Batch your work as much as possible so you can maximize your productivity. Complete a project before jumping into the next one. This is an area that I work on because I struggle with wanting to get started on something new or pressing. If feels SO good to finish. Currently, I am pressing hard to finish a project that has required me to set out two large 8′ tables and do a major sort. Although this is one of the most extensive activities I have tackled, I can see the end in sight. More about this legacy scrapbooking project soon. Forcing yourself to finish is a habit that contributes to less clutter. Get in. Get out. Get done.
- Regularly spend time putting away clutter. Remember the best pattern is trash, donate and organize. By simply pulling out all of the trash and donate items first, the remainder is significantly reduced. Sometimes by setting the timer for a quick put away time 15-30 minutes right after dinner or scheduling cleaning for Thursday afternoon, the over all clutter load is significantly dimenished.
Humans make an average of 35,000 decisions a day. Our capacity is limited. Don’t waste your energy. Live intentionally. By simplifying, planning ahead, tackling frustrating areas, slowing your everyday hurry, and regularly spending time decluttering your energy to decide will be directed at the most important ideas.
The late author Wayne Dyer said, “Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.”
Choose to embrace your everyday by limiting unnecessary clutter.