With the ceaseless advancement in technology and boom in economic prosperity, decision-making has never been harder for us, humans, given the abundance of options today’s world has bestowed on us. Little did you know that we make around 10,000-40,000 decisions each day, which results in outcomes that affect how we live.
The catch is that the more we make choices, the more the quality of our decision-making ability dwindles, eventually ending up in decision fatigue. Thankfully, minimalism offers some solutions, and embracing the concept of “less is more” can aid in streamlining and optimizing your thought processes.
So, read ahead as we’ll delve deeper into how minimalism can help with decision-making, making it easier to select the best options in this choice-brimmed world.
The Problem of Having Too Many Choices
We use two systems when making decisions: intuition and deliberative thinking. System 1 is quick, automatic, instinctive, and effortless, which is evident when making impulsive decisions based on our intuition. System 2 is slow, controlled, more conscious, and effortless, which is apparent when making choices backed up by deliberate, analytical, and rational evaluation.
Ideally, you should be employing System 2, especially when making crucial decisions, to give yourself an opportunity to make the better choice. Though it may sound easy, it isn’t, as our deliberate thinking is bounded.
Once you bombard your brain with too many decisions, it results in the fast diminishment of the brain’s energy. Once decision fatigue sets in, your decision-making process starts to become intuitive, which, in turn, leads to poor decision-making.
Yet, decision fatigue doesn’t only affect the quality of your choices, but it can also dampen your self-regulation and willpower. For instance, a tired brain can wear out your resolve to prepare a healthy meal, do your daily walk, or visit the gym. Or worse, you may end up experiencing “decision avoidance,” an act of veering away from decision-making completely to prevent compromising your decisions.
Often, decision fatigue is inevitable. A single day alone entails making an array of excessive decisions. For example, what type of drink to order? What dress to wear for an event? What movie to watch? What photo to post on Instagram? Or should you quickly respond to that email alert? What’s worse is that these decisions usually tend to be petty, resulting in the waste of mental fuel that you could have allotted for things that matter. Before you even know it, you don’t have enough energy left for more crucial decisions.
Decision-making and Minimalism
If you want to overcome decision fatigue, the best way to do so is to embrace minimalism. Take note that the concept doesn’t mean merely sacrificing or throwing away things. It’s more of eliminating non-value-added decisions from the massive raft of choices you have each day and channeling all your mental energy toward what’s important.
Be it by getting rid of unnecessary activities or physical stuff, adopting this mental approach prevents you from being overwhelmed and rather helps you get on top of your decisions. To apply minimalism and make better choices, here are some changes you could make:
1. Plan your meals
On average, an American spends around 40 minutes daily thinking about food. Summing it up, that’s over 240 hours annually, equaling ten days a year! So, rather than wasting all that time and mental energy every single day, start planning and simplifying your meals.
Streamline a list at the beginning of the week and know what you’ll be eating for each meal time of the day. Opt to prepare less complicated but incredibly nutritious meals without taking variety for granted.
For example, you may take a smoothie each morning, a salad for lunch, and meat and veggies for dinner. To add variation, just mix and match the ingredients and cooking methods. If you can, you can even make all your meals on Sunday, so you’ll have fewer things to worry about the entire week.
By having a streamlined plan and setting parameters, you simplify decision-making and make fewer choices when shopping and preparing your meals. Thus, also helps keep your mind sharp the entire day.
2. Establish a morning routine
Mornings are one of the busiest times of the day, which besiege your mind with lots of decisions, from what to wear, what to drink, or which task to take first. Know that among the first steps of embracing a minimalist lifestyle is having a morning routine, especially that it can immensely impact how your day flows.
Sadly, most people begin the day stressed out, always racing against the clock to get everything sorted out. By implementing a routine and having a rhythm, you steer away from unnecessary decisions you have to make and reduce decision fatigue.
So, try to get up at the same time, drink your favorite cup of tea, read an inspiring book, and exercise or meditate before prepping for the day. Through that, you make things predictable and save your mental energy for other parts of the day.
3. Declutter your home, desk, and surroundings
If your surroundings are cluttered, all the things will serve as a distraction that you may want to address. For instance, though you’re not planning to pay any of them today, seeing the pile of bills on the top of your home office desk may cause you to think twice if you now should.
Or, perhaps you noticed that broken clock. While you were planning to fix it on the weekend, maybe you now should, or not? See? Clutter is distracting and results in even more decisions, which snatches your attention and drains your energy.
As such, remove the unnecessary things in your home, desk, and surrounding. Decluttering means more physical and mental space, and fewer unneeded thoughts, helping you make clearer and better decisions.
4. Simplify your wardrobe
Mark Zuckerberg and other billionaires may be extremely rich to wear the most luxurious clothes, but they typically don the same shirt (duplicates) each day unless their profession requires otherwise. Well, such great minds do that for a good legitimate reason – to make decision-making simpler.
By following the same principle and minimizing your wardrobe, you limit the number of outfit options you need to consider, saving you time and making you productive. Most people wear 20% of clothes more than 80% of the time, while the remaining 80% becomes clutter anyway.
One excellent way to simplify your wardrobe is creating a capsule wardrobe. It’s a limited selection of interchangeable, versatile clothing pieces that complement each other. That way, you get a smaller number of clothes but don’t sacrifice variety and style. It’s also much easier to decide what to wear, knowing that you can quickly match them together whilst still being able to express yourself.
5. Buy versatile items
You may have probably noticed how most people have a different item for every task. For example, an individual may have a laptop for work, a laptop intended for personal use, a smartphone for personal calls, and another smartphone dedicated to work use. Imagine having to carry, operate, charge, and use four different devices.
Try reducing them to two and do all the work on a single laptop and smartphone. Through that, you shell out less money, save space, exert less effort, and make fewer decisions on which item to use or attend to.
6. Take things slow
Minimalism is often associated with slow living as it stresses how to live less and focus on what’s truly important. So, instead of juggling it all and having an overflowing schedule and busy calendar, practice setting boundaries and taking things slow.
Check your calendar and look for any half-hearted commitments. If there are any, cull them. If you’re having a hard time, try rating each task or commitment. If they’re not a 10, then better allot that time for more purposeful activities. For instance, it can be limiting your appointments to one to two a week, while adding more time for your kids.
Acknowledge that you’re not called to do it all. Each decision you make relating to your calendar can exhaust willpower from things that matter more. With that, always protect your time, mental energy, and decision-making prowess.
7. Adopt the ‘Rule of 3’ to your task list
Productivity experts say that the ideal number of top daily priorities is three. Before the day ends, list all your objectives for the next day and then choose the three most important things you need to do and devote your commitment to accomplishing them. Determining what your objectives are, not only boosts your productivity and cuts down decisions but also increases your likelihood of accomplishing them.
8. Give more value to tasks that help you attain your goals
Assess where you are allotting most of your efforts and whether they are helping you attain your primary goals. One major change of having a minimalist lifestyle is knowing where to use your energy, and it is where you wish to see results.
For example, do you wish your front yard garden to look tidier? Perhaps, you can cut time watching videos on Tiktok and rather get outside and start weeding the soil or cutting the grass. Apply it to your decision as well. Cut out worrying about decisions that have little to no impact on your life. Instead, give more value to crucial, life-impacting choices.
Benefits of Minimalist Decision Making
Focusing on those changes and simplifying things can decrease the number of choices you have each day, reduce decision fatigue and give your lots of benefits, which include:
- Better decisions. Without the unnecessary stuff, distractions, and decisions, you can fully dedicate your mental energy to assessing your decisions using your analytical and rational thinking.
- Increased physical energy. Making decisions can burn you out not only mentally but physically. In fact, experts have demonstrated how glucose consumption rises when people face a plethora of decisions. By taking away unimportant decisions using minimalism, you also have enough physical fuel to do other meaningful activities.
- More self-regulation and willpower. As you’re less likely to experience decision fatigue, your self-regulation and willpower don’t dwindle. Combining it with increased physical energy, you can fully commit to doing your daily walks, visiting the gym, or preparing healthier, delicious meals.
So, why start minimalist living and make choices accordingly? Don’t fret, you don’t have to do everything outright. Start small, cull unnecessary things gradually and slowly, and soon, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of minimalism and make your decision-making the best it can be.