Most of the time, I’m not very good at decisions. I get stuck wanting to find the best option, and don’t want to settle for one that’s just good enough. When there are 37 different things to choose from on Amazon, this can be hard.
I get paralyzed from too many options and end up not making a decision at all. And from what I’ve read, I’m not alone in this.
Barry Schwartz illustrates this idea in his book, The Paradox of Choice. He discusses a study in which researchers set up two displays of jams in a food store. One display had six choices, the other had 24. They found that 30% of the customers exposed to the six choices bought a jar. While only 3% exposed to the 24 choices did the same.
This isn’t the only study that has such findings either. I guess we all need to take the saying “variety is the spice of life,” with a grain of salt.
Too many choices can be detrimental. That’s why simplifying your life can feel so good. It’s why you hear about people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs wearing the same thing every day.
Decluttering Daily Decisions
When little decisions we make each day have too many options, it’s draining. So what can we do? Simplifying little areas of your life can be a great start. Here are seven areas to consider:
1. Your closet.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a smaller wardrobe to choose from. I’m definitely not like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg- I still enjoy having some options. But, when I have fewer clothing choices, I find I’m more creative and happier with what I choose to wear.
2. What you eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Daniel Gilbert, who wrote Stumbling on Happiness, eats the same breakfast every Sunday. When people ask him what is the key to happiness, this is his answer. More specifically, it’s what he eats. Which is fresh tortillas and raw jalapeños, but that’s not the point. The point is that variety can actually make you less happy, not more, as he covers in his book.
He says variety should only be in things we enjoy thinking about. And for him, thinking about breakfast doesn’t bring him much pleasure.
3. Your beauty routine.
Whether you are a guy or a girl, there are probably certain areas of your beauty routine that can be eliminated. Maybe you have too many choices of perfume/cologne, lipstick, eye shadow, hair products, etc. Having 10 eye shadow pallets is not doing anything for you. Cut down to the few you use often, and I bet you’ll be happier.
4. Your purchases.
Stick with what you usually buy. When I let myself consider too many alternatives, it makes me second guess the decision I end up making. Even if I like my choice. The “maximizer” in me keeps thinking there may have been a better alternative. So, try to stop looking for better options. If you like what you usually get, stick with it, and don’t worry about what you will be missing out on by doing so. Fear of missing out can be a doozy.
5. Your morning or evening routine.
We often do the same things every day when we get up and before we go to sleep. Is there something that isn’t necessary that you can eliminate? Also, if you don’t already, try doing these things in the same order every day, that way you don’t have to think about it.
6. Your bills.
Is there something you are paying every month that isn’t necessary? Maybe you have Netflix and Hulu. Do you watch them both? Also, if you haven’t already, put your bills on autopay. That’s one less thing that can come up in your day that you’ll have to make a decision about.
7. Your time.
Yep, simplify your time. As in only doing one thing at a time. I’m a big proponent of this, and not just because I’m a bad multitasker! You will increase your focus and cut down on decisions from having to switch back and forth.
It’s possible you already do some of these, or other things throughout your day, that cut down on decisions. Maybe even without realizing it. For example, I have a favorite coffee cup, and that’s the one I drink from every day. It’s a simple little area of my daily routine that I don’t have to think about.
And by the way, do you enjoy thinking about what you will make for breakfast? If a certain area like this brings you happiness, don’t feel the need to simplify in that regard. We’re trying to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Pick the areas that will work best for you.
Also, I want to point out that variety is not always bad. In fact, it can be quite good and without it, life would be boring. But, as with most things in life, too much is not a good thing.
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