Every day I make hundreds of decisions. We all do. What should we eat for lunch? Should I return the call now or later? And then there are the complex ones on the job.
I often tell a friend of mine when we’re deciding where to eat: “You choose, I can’t make another decision.”
Sometimes I don’t have to make any decisions because I do the same thing over and over. Some people would call it a rut. I call it a routine that eliminates decision making. Each morning I eat vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of wheat germ. I buy individual containers for each day of the month so I don’t have to make the decision to grocery shop more than once a month for them, nor do I have to decide first thing what to eat.
I take the first 30 minutes of my work day to review my calendar and answer any critical emails that came in overnight. Then I tackle the most important item for the day. I don’t have to decide when in the day I’m going to work on that because I’ve already done it.
Many years ago I read a book in which the author (I think it was Alexandra Stoddard) recommended choosing one color – black or blue – as the staple of my wardrobe. I chose black. Now I never have to decide or hunt for the matching socks, belt or handbag because I own no navy and don’t have to worry about choosing incorrectly.
I was reading Vanity Fair recently and chuckled at a comment by President Obama, who, it turns out has simplified his decision-making about suits.
“You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… 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. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
Routines cut down on decision-making which allows us to focus on the important things – whatever they may be.