I was snooping around on The Daily Post contemplating whether or not to participate in post of the day/week, when yesterdays topic caught my eye:
‘How do you decide how to decide?’
I think this is a ridiculously valid question for today’s society, given the high levels of choice we are presented with on a day-to-day basis. We live in a highly consumeristic society. You have to choose what fillings go in your sandwich; which colour out of about 100 you want that pair of jeans in, after you have decided what cut you prefer; you can choose to change doctors/dentists/degrees/homes/cars/cities in a blink of an eye. Everything is readily available, and we thrive on the joy of instant gratification. But has this actually helped or hindered our decision-making process?
Sarah Wilson wrote this interesting little piece for the Sunday Life supplement magazine that comes with the Sunday Age in Melbourne, and also posted it on her blog. It goes into a little bit of detail about how as a society we are suffering decision fatigue, and are unnecessarily burdening our children with decisions they are not really capable of understanding. I personally don’t remember being asked as a child what I wanted for lunch at school, I just ate whatever was put in my lunchbox, then went and played, whereas I have seen younger cousins being quizzed at every possible moment on what they would like to do. They want to roll in the mud, that’s what.
The major problem with decision fatigue is because we can no longer be bothered making new choices, we just stick to the default ones, which may not be in our best interests. Can’t decide between having the caesar salad with or without chicken? Oh fuck it, I will just get a parma instead. The wardrobe is so bursting full of clothing that it takes you at least half an hour to decide what to wear, and when you eventually clean it out you find clothes you thought you sent to the op shop years ago? Get rid of most of it.
Sarah details three ways you can make decision-making in your life easier, and thereby reduce your chance of decision fatigue:
- Set up your life to make less decisions.
- Do whatever grabs you.
- Spend an hour making choices.
By simplifying your life in such a way that leaves you with a tolerable amount of choices (everyone will be different on what is tolerable), you will be less likely to make default choices. Sarah uses the example of how she is currently living out of a suitcase and therefore rotates between three outfits. One dirty, one clean, one being worn. Simple. That wouldn’t work for me unless I was travelling, but I can use her analogy to take a good hard look at my wardrobe. I take FOREVER to decide what to wear every day, simply because I have soooo many clothes. It is completely unneccessary, as I wear the same ones over and over. While I am not quite ready to tackle the wardrobe, I have been cleaning out my space and preparing in general for life as a full-time worker next year, by de-cluttering and thereby limiting my choice of distractions.
Sarah also promotes the idea of doing tasks which appeal to you the most. Instead of sitting there with your to-do-list ho humming over what should have priority, just do all the things first that most appeal to you, or that won’t seem like a chore. This idea may not appeal to some people as it means you could be leaving the most onerous task to last, but it also means that you won’t have any excuses because it is the only thing you have left to do…so just get on with it!
Lastly, Sarah advocates the idea of just sitting down, and getting a whole lot of stuff over and done with in a short space of time. Things like emails, bills, letters, and all those other little annoying things that require our attention and a decision on. Instead of deliberating over them and making a mountain out of a molehill, just make snap decisions, get it over and done with, and move on with life.
By reducing the stress decisions cause in your life, not only are you getting the decision-making over and done with, you are also leaving yourself a lot of free time to do whatever the hell you want with!
So in my maiden voyage into the art of quick and effective decision-making I made a snap decision (well after about a week) to move out next year. My friend Creepy Krystal had already asked me a few times to be her roommate but I had never really taken the idea too seriously. I always made excuses to myself about saving money, living close to the hospital I want to work at, being able to travel, being reluctant to leave my parents and brother and the very unique family life we live. However. I will be 23 next year. My parents have supported me through five years of tertiary education. They have paid for all my food, the majority of my bills, and for all my living expenses in this last year that I have been unemployed. We are also starting to get cabin fever. I am fighting more with my mum, becoming more intolerant of some of my brothers usually cute but often annoying mannerisms and quirks. Dad is probably the only person I stay constant with, he tends to be like a leveler between us all. The decision to move out also ties in, believe it or not, with my desire to lose weight. My mother is fiercely protective of her kitchen, and as yet I have not had the opportunity (or one could say the permission!) to learn how to cook. As a result I eat my mothers, while excellent, delicious and nutritious, cooking, I also eat her ridiculously oversized portions that are often laden with carb dense foods. I feel moving out with give me the freedom to cook what I want and change to a clean eating lifestyle. But most of all? It is just time. Time for me to become a real adult, to become independent, to make my own home. I can’t wait. 🙂
Hopefully I will make many more good decisions to come. Like finishing my last assignment, which I decide to do right now!