Decision Fatigue :: The Power of Unmade Decisions


According to Psychology Today the average person makes as many as 35,000 decisions a day. As moms, we hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Snooze OR get up? Shower OR dry shampoo and wash my face? Coffee OR tea? Eggs OR toast? Dress OR pants? Booties OR flats? Hair up OR down? Glasses OR contacts? Listen to the radio OR a podcast? Packed lunch OR buy? And all of this before 9 am! As the day goes on the choices keep coming at us, causing us to feel overwhelmed and worn out. By the end of the day, many of us just CAN’T. MAKE. ONE. MORE. DECISION!

I’ve heard it said that Steve Job’s wore a black shirt every single day to eliminate an extra decision from his day. I’m sure he streamlined decisions in other ways I’m not aware of also. The point is, that if as humans we only have a certain amount of decision making power in a day, we should save that power for big decisions, the ones that matter. To do this, we should minimize, simplify and streamline as many decisions as possible.

Ideas of practical decisions you can streamline

  • Make a weekly or monthly meal plan and stick to it. This way you make the decision once, for an entire week or month and can eliminate the daily reactive question of “What’s for dinner?”.
  • Keep a capsule wardrobe (for kids too!), so you have less clothes to choose from. You can even plan certain outfits for certain days of the week, or just be like Steve Jobs and only wear black shirts.
  • Have morning and evening routines for you and your kids. We all find comfort in routines, and when things always happen in a certain order you don’t have to put as much thought into what you are doing and when.
  • Have a workout routine you follow where you do certain workouts certain days so you don’t have to figure out what you’re doing daily. (I do legs on Mondays and Wednesdays, arms on Tuesdays, shoulders on Thursdays, full body on Fridays, and cardio and abs on Saturdays and Sundays.)
  • Have regular family traditions like Fridays are pizza night, game night or movie night, that way you aren’t asking the question of “What are we going to do tonight?” every single evening.
  • Have a regular meal rotation to make meal planning easier. Something like spaghetti every Monday, Tacos every Tuesday and so on.
  • Have regular days designated for household chores and cleaning. Grocery shopping on Mondays, laundry Tuesdays and Thursday etc.
  • Eat the same thing for breakfast (and maybe even lunch?) every day. (My husband and I have eaten the exact same breakfast – 6 egg whites scrambled with 6 whole eggs – every single day of the 13 years we’ve been married.)

Some of these autopilot decisions might feel boring for you and your family. The key is to find what works for you – to nail down what areas you want variety in and what areas some regularity might be appreciated. Streamlining should make your life easier and more joyful. If something isn’t doing that then keep tweaking and adjusting until you figure out what works best for your family.

Tell us any other ways you’ve found helpful to make your decision process more efficient.

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Shannon Mangerchine
Shannon recently moved to Columbus with her husband, Jeremy, and three sons, Noah, Eli and Zeke. She left a career in Human Resources to take on her dream of being a stay-at-home mom. During this time, she and her husband founded a non-profit called Bastion Resources with the purpose of inspiring others to live a life of intimacy with God. Shannon is passionate about creating community and engaging in meaningful conversation around the dinner table. Recently, she created The Intentional Daily Journal to help people live with more purpose and clarity, which is available for purchase on Amazon. In her free time, Shannon enjoys all types of fitness, trying new restaurants, reading books, coffee dates with friends and hanging at the park with her family. Shannon is constantly creating new healthy recipes and sharing them on her blog Healthy Mom Healthy Family.