Too Many Choices

Making decisions can be exhausting. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I can reduce that stress and exhaustion by limiting the amount of decision-making I have to do each day.

Do you know those famous people who seem to wear the same thing every day? Steve Jobs wore a designer black turtleneck and blue jeans. Mark Zuckerberg wears a gray t-shirt. Barack Obama said, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

I like a little more variety than wearing the same thing every day, but I have created certain limitations to my wardrobe. My default outfit starts with a pair of black or blue jeans (in the summer, I start with black or navy blue shorts). I’ll add a colorful shirt and coordinated earrings. I have very little variety in my undergarments. I’ve also reduced my daily cosmetics routine to three products: powder, eyebrow pencil, blush. (I’ll add some lipstick on the way out of the house.)

I own so few shoes that I can fit all of them — summer and winter — into a 10-pair hanging shoe organizer. I keep two handbags by the front door: a convertible backpack for when I need to carry a lot of stuff, and a small crossbody bag for when I don’t. A handbag insert makes it easy for me to switch from one to the other.

I’ve also simplified my kitchen. The three pans that I use the most often are hanging on the kitchen wall for easy access. I’ve reviewed and downsized the rest of my pots so that there are no duplications. I have one set of dishes, which I use for both everyday and company. Ditto for my flatware.

Another key to decision-making is being able to see everything you own. Having fewer items definitely helps make that possible. Organizing similar items together also helps.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of decisions you need to make every day about fairly mundane things, try to figure out where you can simplify.

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