By: Maria Alcoke, Founder & Host of The Engine Mom Podcast, CF-L1 Trainer
We make hundreds of decisions every day. From the moment we wake up, “Should I hit snooze or get up?”, “What should I wear today?”, “What am I having for breakfast?”, etc. We’re making even more decisions if we have children to care for – and that’s just the beginning of the day. It’s no surprise that we’re exhausted by all this decision making by mid-afternoon – this phenomenon is referred to as decision fatigue and it is very real. By mid-day, we’ve easily been faced by 100 or more choices – some are more significant than others, but to that point, making decisions can be draining. And, by the end of the day, it’s very easy to say “I don’t care any more.” It’s harder to make good choices, you’re more likely to opt for take out versus a home-cooked meal; you’re more likely to skip the gym and head straight to the couch; before you know it, these become the habits that are put in to place. This is why a routine is so important – a consistent routine helps eliminate that decision fatigue. Here are a few tips for developing a routine that will help to relieve you of some of your decisions and actually give you MORE energy:
- Place your alarm clock or phone across the room. This essentially forces you to get up from your bed to shut it off in the morning and reduces the likelihood of you hitting snooze and curling back up in bed. It’s also important to have a ritual that you look forward to in the morning that will encourage you to get out of bed. For me, that’s meditation, reading and journaling. Now, I’ll be honest – these 3 things don’t always happen every morning – I have a 2 year old with her own agenda. Some mornings, my daughter wakes up earlier and my routine is cut a little short. But of those 3 things, I’ve learned that journaling is what I really need to take just a few minutes for in the morning to set the tone of the day. I write down how I’m feeling in the present moment and what I am excited about for the day; I write down what I want to manifest for the day in terms of behaviors and feelings and what I want to release (negative feelings or behaviors) and I write my gratitude for the morning. In addition to journaling when I wake up – I love a cup of black coffee. It’s simple, but to me, it’s what I look forward to every morning.
- While variety may be the spice of life – sometimes it’s better to keep things simple. There was a time when my thoughts would be occupied with thinking about ‘what to make for dinner’, ‘do I have all the ingredients?’, ‘how much time will it take to cook?’. I enjoy cooking and I love creating healthy, delicious meals for my family, it’s my way of showing them love. However, this was literally consuming my time and energy just trying to come up with a new menu item every night of the week. I realized that if I simplify the menu, come up with a few staple items that I can prep ahead of time – I’m still serving my family delicious, whole-foods, without the added stress. And to be honest, they really don’t notice a different between when I spend 2 hours creating a meal or 30 minutes. So, when it comes to breakfast, I recommend eating the same thing every single morning. Or, if you really crave variety, stick to two options that you can alternate between. This can also be applied to meals and snacks throughout the day. Better yet, if you take an hour or 2 over the weekend to prep and plan your meals ahead of time, you will spend less time prepping during the week and be able to ‘grab and go’, saving your decision making for more important tasks. Imagine yourself standing in front of a vending machine with, say 60 different snack options. Consider how much time and energy you spend debating which snack you are craving or which snack would be the best choice for you? Having a few snack options packed and ready – a mix of savory (raw or roasted nuts) and sweet (think: fruit or low-sugar granola) will allow you to satisfy whichever ‘flavor’ you’re craving.
- Simplify your wardrobe. For someone like myself, who really used to love shopping for new outfits, this was a game changer. I recently took inventory of my closet and realized that I only wore about 30% of the clothing I owned on a regular basis. Some items were seasonal or occasional (ie: formal affairs / holiday attire, etc), but a many of the items hadn’t been worn in months, possibly even years. I realized that as my lifestyle changed; I wasn’t going out as much, I was no longer working in a professional setting; that I didn’t need all the options I had once enjoyed. Even if you are a professional going in to an office every day, consider how much time you spend each morning picking out an outfit? A recent trend I’ve heard about has been the office ‘uniform’ – aka wearing the same thing to work every day. You can own several of the same pair of pants and tops and rotate them as they need laundering. If you choose to downsize your closet, remember to keep only items that you love to wear and that you feel good in! Do away with the days you feel like you ‘have nothing to wear’ and choose to feel great about every article of clothing in your closet. A great resource for building a capsule wardrobe is Megan Ericson http://www.meganericson.com/ – and men, don’t feel left out! These same principles apply to your closets as well!
I hope you fin these tips helpful in minimizing your choices and reducing decision fatigue in the New Year. Sometimes it just takes a little time upfront and planning ahead to set the course for success and productivity moving forward.
Check out Maria’s Podcast, The Engine Mom Podcast, a show designed to build community through story-telling and to inspire other women (especially Moms) to set goals for themselves and think outside the box when it comes to their lifestyle and work. Many of the women that you will hear from on this show run their own businesses, are creative professionals or have unique stories to share about pursuing their passions while raising their family. These stories give an interesting perspective on life as a Mom and are sure to fuel you with inspiration for making the most of your own life.