Energy is Everything // Eliminating Unnecessary Decisions

Eliminate Unnecessary Decisions-One Little Minute Blog-1-3 When we were first married, Dave and I frequented home stores to gather necessities for our first little place. We needed pillows, curtains, a bathmat, and a bunch of other little odds and ends for simple daily life. We would wander into a home superstore, and I would immediately be so distracted by the huge selection of every type of home good available that I couldn’t focus, much less make a decision. And I’m a decisive person. On the way to the towels, I’d get stuck looking at toothbrush holders. Heading towards vacuum bags I’d see a whole display of perfect spatulas. The whole experience provided me with just too much stimuli and my mind would sort of bounce about thinking of all of the possibilities for all of these things that I didn’t even know about, much less need.

What I didn’t  realize then, was that all of those unnecessary decisions were wearing me out inside. In fact, there have been studies finding that our brains can only handle a certain number of decisions per day before we start to lose self-control and will-power. I have felt that as truth in my life, and it fits hand in hand with the energy management that I am focusing on for a healthier and happier life. One way to conserve energy for the things that matter the very  most is to not spend any on decisions that don’t matter very much. I’ve chosen a couple areas in my life to set a routine standard and eliminate unnecessary variety so that I reserve my energy for making decisions about other, more important areas.

Automating life tasks as I wrote about here is a great place to start. Rather than deciding over and over again when you’re going to get the laundry or dishes done, just scheduling it in and sticking to it will relive that background energy drain. But what about other unnecessary decisions? What else do you spend a lot of energy on that isn’t actually very important to you?

For me a big one was clothes. I love designing and making them, I love putting on an outfit that fits my lifestyle and makes me feel confident and comfortable. But I actually don’t love having a lot of them, or varying what I wear. When I first discovered the idea of a capsule wardrobe back in September, it immediately struck me as something I would be interested in.  I felt drained from time to time when I stood in the closet and tried to figure out what to wear of all of the too many clothes that I had (some that I loved, some I liked, some that were just there.) When I pared down to the 40 or so items that I actually loved, wore often, and felt comfortable in, I felt more myself in my clothes than I had for years. It made me realize how much more happy I am when my closet has a very limited, deliberate, selection of high quality clothes that I love. Where I used to spend unnecessary time and energy trying to put new and innovative outfits together every day, or make sure I  didn’t wear the same thing too often, I’ve now simple embraced that I love to wear the same few things that make me happy and not think about it any more.

Not only has simplifying the decisions in my closet minimized the energy I spend dressing, but also shopping. Considering thoughtfully which items of clothing I had that I wanted to wear often made my personal style pretty clear, and helped me see which brands of clothing I love that last. After a week or two wearing the same things over and over I had a couple clear ideas of what pieces were missing that I kept wishing I had to put on. One was a simple white tee shirt. So, I went to the store with a one-item shopping list and found what I needed. While I was at there, I tried on a bunch of things, just to see how they felt and if there were any real keepers. And there weren’t! Even though everything was on sale! I liked a few items, but when viewed through the lens of “Do I see myself wearing this every week?” the only one that made sense for me was the simple white tee.

Of course I have a few special occasion items tucked in the back of my closet, and there are also a couple sentimental pieces that I will keep around even with little wear. But for my everyday wardrobe, for me less is way way more.

Another area that I have chosen to eliminate unnecessary decisions is in my grocery shopping. I discovered years ago that I love Trader Joe’s. The food is high quality, low-priced, and already the selection is pared down to a minimum. If I need ketchup, there is one type on the shelf and I don’t waste any time or energy comparing ten brands and price points. Same thing goes for all of my pantry staples. I can be in and out of Trader Joe’s in about thirty minutes, even with the kids, even buying a whole week’s worth of groceries, because I know exactly what I want, where it is, and about how much it’s all going to cost. I know it works for me, so I don’t even try to do my weekly shopping excepting the few things I buy in bulk weekly at Costco. I mentioned here that I am planning on doing a standard weekly meal plan to narrow the decision making even further, and I’ve just finished it! I’m going to give it a couple weeks of trial before sharing the details here.

I toss catalogs before pouring over the pages, and delete solicitous emails before filling my hypothetical shopping cart. My everyday life has begun to inform me of the actual needs I have (like right now a step-stool for the kitchen so I can stop climbing onto the counters to reach the highest shelves) and I can for now leave everything else in the stores without even having to consider if I might want them.

The funny thing I found about consciously narrowing my options is that rather than feeling restricted, I feel so much more free! My mind has space to think creatively and openly about how to approach tricky situations with the kids, or what fun sewing project I’d like to work on. I am still dressed in clothing I love, and eating food that makes me happy, but without the weight of unnecessary decisions bogging down my energy or self-control. One of my favorite quotes from a talk I heard a few years ago is ” There is no end to what the world has to offer. So it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough.”

Maybe clothing IS your thing, and it boosts you up to consider all of the possibilities and choose amazing outfits daily. That’s wonderful! What is something else you could simplify for happiness? Maybe it’s what you eat for breakfast, or what you gift for birthdays, or which shampoo you use. Think about what the unnecessary decisions are in your life that you could simplify for sanity and happiness.

More choices are not always better, and continually making these decisions can begin to deplete your energy rather than conserve and boost it. Some choices can be made into routine so that, like the automated life tasks, they become background music for the beautiful, more important journey of our life.

 

17 Comments

  1. Posted April 20, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh man, I needed to hear this! I’m indecisive and easily distracted, so the parade of decisions to make every day is unpleasant and tiring! I’ll be thinking about this today and thinking about areas of my life where I can eliminate some decision making! Thank you!

    • Miranda
      Posted April 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      You’re welcome! I didn’t realize I was at all indecisive, but turns out I thrive in an environment with fewer, good decisions than a million. good luck!

  2. Sarah
    Posted April 20, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Great post. In a world that feels so rushed simplifying is so important!

    • Miranda
      Posted April 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree! For sanity sake, and joy!

  3. Lisa
    Posted April 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I should definitely simplify. I wish it was that easy for me. Baby steps. I’ll have to give it a try during my next 6 weeks of treatment.

    • Miranda
      Posted April 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Definitely baby steps. Good Luck!

  4. Kristy
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    I didn’t realize that I’m at the start of thinking about exactly this. Reading this has given me some great ideas and starting points. Thanks for sharing!

    • Miranda
      Posted April 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      You’re welcome! It seems to be an ongoing process, but I think I’m on the right track!

  5. Shelly
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I am loving these “energy is everything” posts. So insightful and motivating. I haven’t tried out the capsule wardrobe, but almost a year ago, I discovered a system called Dressing Your Truth (https://dyt.liveyourtruth.com/freecourse/?aff=shellyl&name=Shelly). It has changed my life in a lot of ways. Dressing Your Truth is a system that teaches women about how to align their true natures (God given gifts, personality, etc.) with their outward appearance, and to strengthen their gifts and have personal growth. Gaining this knowledge has been really useful for understanding myself and others better. It has also helped me with knowing what my gifts are and how to focus on strengthening them. Shopping is a lot easier and quicker now since I have a greater sense of direction. I can skip entire sections of clothes on the racks because I know what I am looking for. Getting dressed in the morning is much faster, easier, and more fun as well. Everything in my closet goes together and can be mixed and matched really easily. And on top of that, I feel great. Ever since I’ve been Dressing My Truth, and discovering more about my internal and external beauty, I feel a greater sense of confidence with myself now. I really do feel beautiful. I care a lot less about what other people think of me and I love myself more. This has not only given me more energy, but I also have much more focus with how to use that energy.

    • Miranda
      Posted April 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard of that! I had a great friend use it a couple years ago and I loved hearing how awesome it was for her. I feel like I’ve learned some similar personal principles as I’ve done this simplifying and only retaining what means the most. Like I’ve learned a lot about myself! xo

  6. Posted April 21, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    The whole time I’m reading this, I keep picturing the Peanuts cartoon strip and how Charlie Brown is always wearing the same orange shirt with a black zigzag across the front… 😉 I totally agree that it’s worth the effort to do a closet purge. I’m always amazed by how many things are taking up space that don’t fit, are too faded/stained/shrunk to leave the house in, out of style, or whatever. And once I clean all of that out of there, it’s so much faster and easier to find those things that I DO want to wear every day.

    Good luck with your streamlined weekly menu and shopping routine. I’ll be interested to hear how that goes for you.

  7. Candice
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I did the same thing to my closet and I agree with you, I’ve never been happier. I’ve never said, man I’m so happy with my wardrobe until now. Thanks so much for this mini – essay. I’m going to come back to it and read it again and again. xox

  8. darlene
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    before looking at the link above this quote, * There is no end to what the world has to offer. So it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough.* i figured it was from president uchtdorf — sounds so much like something he says / or would say … thank you for this; i put too many things in my, literal online, basket and have to return them b/c i know they are not really something i need (but they did look cute!) … you would think that after awhile, the return postage would kill me … LOL … i’m learning …

    thanks for your great tut on *made* … i loved the cuff idea and am going to try it; i do something like that on men’s and boy’s shirt sleeves and shorts … never, ever thought to use the SERGER …. duh on me … LOL …

    again, thank you so much for your thoughtful article and tut …. darlene

  9. Posted May 4, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! It goes really well with a book I read recently. Have you read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? It’s kind of like capsule wardrobe-ing your whole house lol! I will definitely be checking out the rest of your energy series, I love that you’re talking about this!

    • Miranda
      Posted May 5, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m right in the middle of that book, and so on board with most of it!

  10. Amanda
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I took this one step further and created a work “uniform” for myself. I bought a week’s worth of school logo polo shirts ( I teach 8th grade) and downsized all but my 5 favorite work-appropriate pants. I never, ever have to spend energy deciding what to wear in the mornings. I realize this wouldn’t work for everyone, but choosing an outfit was a huge, stressful energy drain for me every day and I’m so much happier not having to make that decision! I always look professional and I spend zero mental energy getting ready for work each day. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made.

    • Miranda
      Posted October 26, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I love this! It’s really about doing what works for you and forgetting the hassle with the rest! Good for you to find a solution to save some energy for other decisions that matter more:)
      xo

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