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Want to get more done? Stop making so many decisions!

Fewer options = less time making decisions

Want to get more done in 2015? Here’s a simple tip: Stop making so many decisions.

For real.

I was reading an advanced copy of Jon Acuff’s new book, Do Over, and he talks about this. Here’s what he says:

This is a technique leaders throughout history have taken up. Like a guy named Albert Einstein. According to Forbes, “It has been reported that the famous physicist bought several versions of the same gray suit because he didn’t want to waste brainpower on choosing an outfit each morning.”

President Barack Obama explained the idea even further, in an article in Vanity Fair written by Michael Lewis, “You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. ‘You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,’ [Obama] said. ‘I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’ ”

If you think that won’t work, I’d like to introduce you to the “speaking jeans” I own. For the last eighteen months, I’ve worn one pair of pants at every event I’ve spoken at. (The ones where jeans were acceptable onstage.) That’s one less thing for me to think about when I pack.

-Jon Acuff, Do Over (go pre-order a copy — it’s fantastic!)

Want to get more done? Eliminate decision-making

I know this might sound overly simplistic, but it really does work. This is one of the reasons I only have a few outfits and re-wear them over and over and over again — down to the same shoes and jewelry.

This is one of the reasons it’s rare for me to eat something different than oatmeal or eggs and bacon for breakfast and why it was Instagram-worthy that I had a Purple Power Smoothie for breakfast yesterday! 🙂

This is why I like to stay at the same hotel chain, eat at the same restaurant chains (and usually always order the same things when I eat there), wear the same makeup palette every day, re-buy the exact same brand/make of something I like when the first one wears out, fix my hair in the same styles, and make the same meals on a regular basis.

Those of you who thrive on variety would probably find this incredibly boring. But for me, there is not only comfort in the sameness of things, it also simplifies life a lot.

If you only have one choice or a few choices, versus dozens of choices, it’s usually much quicker and easier to make a decision. You don’t have to weigh your options, consider the pros and cons, try on different outfits, worry about which choice is best… you just make your simple decision and go with it.

What About You?

Have you simplified and eliminated decision-making in certain areas of your life? If so, I’d love to hear! Also, does a life of few choices sound wonderful or extremely boring? Why or why not?

photo credit; photo credit

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128 Comments

  • Meagan says:

    I read “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz last year and it relates perfectly to this blog post. Good book that many MMM readers might enjoy. I like some variety, but too many choices tend to paralyze me.

    • yes I loved that book. And I’m fascinated by the idea of decision fatigue and how to implement simplicity in my life to save energy.

      I:
      Eat the same thing for breakfast nearly every single day.

      Have an extremely simple wardrobe … for instance right now I only own two pairs of pants.

      I have routines in place so that I typically do the same thing everyday.

      I do most of my shopping at Aldi which of course has only about 20% of the stock of an average grocery store.

      All these things put me in a better mood because my will power isn’t as depleted

      • Jody says:

        Carrie, I really got into this after I read an article you had posted on your blog that mentioned Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same exact shirt (having a few of them) over and over for this exact reason. It makes such a difference not having to make a bunch of small decisions all the time.

        Crystal,
        This article is such a great reinforcement of this! I’m working on this and recently did some shopping and bought the same styles just in different colors so all I would have to do is choose the color and put it on. I read an article that talked about how back in the day things seemed simpler, even though they were harder, just because there were less decisions to be made. There was one person you bought lumber from, one store for food, one store for clothes etc. These days there’s so many choices, always wondering what’s the best deals, reading reviews etc before deciding to purchase something. I feel this article, so many decisions are exhausting. Glad to read this this morning to keep me going on simplifying. As always thanks for the inspiration!

        • So glad it was helpful Jody, now I’m off to visit your blog 😉

        • Lucy says:

          You said, ” so many decisions are exhausting “. That’s exactly what I feel these days. I’d never been interested in Simplifying lifestyle before, I wasn’t even recognized how much it will suck my energy from my day. Well said, thank you.

  • Amber says:

    I think this is totally valid. Sometimes we spend so much time and energy on the thousands of little choices (what to wear/make for dinner) that by the time we get to something big like a difficult discipline/love situation with our kids or our spouse, friend, family needing our attention, prayer, or guidance, we are simply to spent to offer them our best. So I’m board! Simple doesn’t have to be boring, just intentional in its design to maximize efficiency giving me time and energy to pour my best into my husband and kids.

  • Meredith says:

    One of my words for 2015 is decisive! I spend too much time debating, when it’s usually not necessary. I have to check this book out. I, too, am a creature of habit and I like it that way.

  • Michelle says:

    I love this post. It makes so much sense. I have been working on simplifying over the last couple years. I have done fairly well with my wardrobe, and while I used to worry about wearing the same thing all the time, I find that I don’t care as much anymore, and I don’t think anyone else cares if I’m wearing the same thing I wore last time I saw them. Now i’m working on simplifying food, for the purpose of simplicity itself and because my grocery budget is way out of control.

  • This makes me feel so much better about my tendency toward predictability/sameness/boring stuff.

    I own two pairs of jeans, and have been wearing the two same sweaters over and over again ever since it got cold. (I also eat scrambled eggs for breakfast almost every morning). My three sisters are fashionistas, so I’m kind of an oddball lol.

  • Elaine says:

    This makes so much sense! Every January we go to the same hotel out of state. It’s so easy for me to pack. I know what the room has exactly. I go to another hotel and I wonder, will the curtains be dark enough? Will I like their shampoo? Should I pack my own? I wonder what’s for breakfast… My brother takes his family of 5 to the same beach cottage every August. I have 4 kids and I find it so much easier to wear my same favorite clothes all the time. I cook the same items for my family, if I change up the standard spaghetti recipe, they notice. Usually not in a postive way! Trying out new recipes wear me out. This is not the season of my life for that. With 1 in college, 2 in high school and 1 in elementary school. Thanks for the encouragement to keep it simple!

  • Miriam B says:

    This past year, I donated and sold so much stuff. It was such a huge relief to be rid of it all. Also, I adopted a only-owning-two-pairs of jeans trick and it makes dressing for my day so much simpler.

  • Victoria says:

    Considering both the lady at my bank and the grocery store clerk both once asked me if I was okay when I showed up on “the wrong” day at both places, I guess I am a simplifier of my routine without even really thinking about it.

  • Lana says:

    That is exactly why I have used a detailed 4 week rotating chore list for many years. I never have to think of what need so to be done since it is all spelled out on my lists. We also have a regular breakfast schedule of cereal on weekdays, eggs on Saturdays and pancakes or waffles on Sundays. Hubby always takes a very similar lunch to work because he is a creature of habit and I don’t have to think of what to pack every weekday. We find our little habits quite comfortable.

  • Mary says:

    Yes, I too am eliminating decision making throughout my day, by planning with Google Calendar. I read several of your old posts and decided I would give it a shot as we were working on several timeframes and goals for house projects.
    I was thoroughly amazed how freeing it was to plug into the calendar top priorities (decided on that morning) rather than making these decisions during the day.

    Without a schedule, I was constantly doing something and feeling very distracted because I knew there were so many other things to do. Needless to say, I felt more accomplished. I also realized that when I alotted time to do a chore it usually took me much less time. I began to look at my task list for 15 min chores, having a cup of tea, taking a snooze or reading…….then on to the next thing on the schedule.

    Having prioritized my projects/chores for the day I found I could concentrate on that project alone, having confidence in my schedule as I knew I had plugged in the top priorities. I also began to notice as I worked through the schedule if something came along to throw me off, it was much easier to scoot things to the next day or next week.

    I was surprised how keeping a schedule didn’t make me feel at all like I was chained to a task list, rather I felt much more accomplished being able to give intensity to one project at a time rather than doing a chore and being distracted with all of the other to do’s on my list.

    Eliminating decision-making by analyzing, prioritizing, then scheduliing was a revelation for feeling and being more accomplished!

  • Rach says:

    I travel a lot in my role as a missionary in fourteen eastern European countries. And I generally pack the same clothes regardless of where I’m going! Yes, there are summer and winter versions of outfits but essentially it’s the same items.

    Rach

  • Georgia says:

    This is so true of me too, and I think for me I even just grew up in a family that thrives on “sameness”. I was reminded of how my family of 8 would eat out at the same joint every Sunday and order the same drinks. it got to where our family would file in and sit down, and the waiter would nod his head at us and bring our drinks over without a word! it just was so much easier with 6 kids to stick with what works.

  • Ashley P says:

    I have 3 pair of maternity pants. They’re all identical, and they’re off-white so they go with pretty much any top. Each morning, I grab a pair, throw on any shirt, and put on my shoes. (And yes, *gasp*, I only own 1 pair of shoes. PERIOD.) I eat a bowl of the same cereal every morning (unless I was lucky to catch something else on sale) or oatmeal if it’s cold outside. I pack lunch for work (last night’s leftovers, or a sandwich if there aren’t any). The only jewelry I wear is my wedding ring. I don’t wear makeup (takes too much time and costs too much money) and stick my hair in the same ponytail holder every day.

    It literally takes me 20 minutes to get out the door in the morning, and that include emptying the dishwasher, waking up the baby, and packing my lunch. Keeping my choices limited has streamlined my life so much. Of course, I’ve basically had the same routine since I was a teenager and my school had uniforms, so I didn’t have any choices then, either.

    • GabrielaF says:

      Before reading this post and reading comments, especially your comment, I feel so much better. I also wear the same shoes every day, and one of my several pairs of pants, and I also haven’t put on makeup in years.

  • Sarah says:

    This is when life gets really busy, I switch to a monthly meal plan. I’ve had people look at me funny when I tell them this, but when I get up at 4:30 am out the door by 5:30 and home after 5:30 pm, the last thing I want to do is choose is what to eat.

    • Rhonda says:

      Sarah I agree regarding the meal plan. I have a monthly rotation menu that I’ve been using for several years & I wouldn’t go back for anything. I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner…what a relief! I also have a grocery list made for each week listing what I need to make the meals, so I only need to mark off any items that I don’t need to purchase & I’m done.

  • Sakura says:

    I’ve been simplifying my life, but it’s a process. I first started with my son whose 10 now, but last year I went thru all his clothes and he now owns only 7 of each item (underwear and socks not included) he has jeans, shorts, short sleeve tshirts, long sleeve under shirts all in 7’s, then 3 hoodies, 2 sweat pants, 2 dress shirts and 1 dress pants. 2 running shoes, 1 flip flop, 1 snow boots and 1 pair of dress shoes, oh and 1 robe. All his jeans are exactly the same, this way I deal with one size and don’t have to worry if they run too big or small. This was my experiment for him and it’s not only helped free up a dresser from his room, but made it easy for him to get dressed each morning. He also does his own laundry every saturday morning. All items get washed at the end of the week and when he outgrows something we give it away and wait for a sale to get new items. Now it’s my turn!

    • Tracy says:

      I did this with my 9 year old. He loves it because it is so much easier for him to get dressed in the morning. I have also noticed if he only has a couple choices for whatever is going on he is much happier.

      I am going to have to do this with my clothes as well. I am overwhelmed many mornings.

  • HokieKate says:

    I use cloth diapers for my kids, and the world of cloth diapers can be overwhelming. So, I only let myself buy from the Bumgenius and Thirsties brands.

    • Rebecca says:

      Me too! I only buy the AIO one size bumgenius. Originally I did that because it wouldn’t be confusing for my husband, but now, I’m so glad I did it for my sake, too.

  • Melissa says:

    I do this with a number of things. I only buy white towels so they can all be laundered together and always look crisp in whichever bathroom they end up in. I also buy socks for my boys buy the dozen…all the same design so if one gets lost or damaged there is always a replacement. It cuts down on the dreaded “sock pile” while doing laundry.

  • Alaina says:

    For me, this would be an extremely boring life. I would really dislike eating the same things, going to the same restaurants, ordering the same foods. I like the changes and the experiences of new things. I like stepping out of my comfort zone. I don’t have too many clothes, and I wear only basic items, but the food would really turn me off. I don’t know. I both agree and disagree with this idea. Yes, I would get more done, but my life would not be as full because I would be keeping myself from experiencing new things and enjoying new food items.

    • Nancy says:

      I completely agree with you. If I ate the same cereal every day for even a week, I wouldn’t want to even look at it again for 3-6 months.

      My job affords me the opportunity to go out to upscale restaurants weekly, and I will always be trying something new and different when I go.

      Chain restaurants are a thing because people enjoy consistency, but when you travel isn’t it a great opportunity to try local foods and support local businesses?

    • Ashley P says:

      Those of us with routines don’t always have boring lives. We shake things up from time to time. Example: last Sunday instead of just a bowl of whatever, we stayed home from church sick. So hubby made us a big farmer’s breakfast. It was a nice treat that we don’t normally get.

      We still have new experiences. We just don’t make them part of every single day.

      • Alaina says:

        I want to make it clear that I said ‘for me’. If routine works for your family that is wonderful. I like routine in many areas of my life, but definitely not in food or food choices. I never meant to indicate that other lifestyles were boring, I thought I made it clear I was speaking only about myself.

        • Ashley P says:

          No biggie. Odds are, you already have some sort of routine in your life, anyway. Everyone does. I don’t know of anyone who wakes up and does everything completely differently every single day. It’s all about finding balance. I may eat the same breakfast every morning, but I listen to different things at work. Sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s an audio book. Sometimes it’s a sermon series. I get bored listening to the same playlist over and over again.

          I think everyone has both routine and novelty in their daily lives. It’s just about finding that balance. 🙂

    • I think it’s important to figure out what works for you and do that. I am adventuresome in some areas — like I like to always be reading a wide variety of books and learning about new ideas — but I like to keep it simple in many other areas.

      My husband LOVES variety and new things, so he’s definitely helped me expand my horizons and learn that new things and experiences can actually be fun and invigorating. He helps balance me out. 🙂

    • Amber J says:

      Aliana, if going to new resturaunts or places is something you enjoy then you wouldnt want to apply this there. It would be like someone who loves reading only reading one book over and over, that would make life dull. But maybe there are other areas this could be helpful, to make more time for doing the things you enjoy.

    • Debbie says:

      I have to agree with you Alaina. I enjoy variety. I can’t even eat the same thing for more than 3 or 4 days because I would go nuts. I love this concept but I am a HUGe lover of change and new things. Congrats to people who can stomach this though. It would be a simpler way of living 🙂

    • Laura says:

      I once took a personality test that said I have an extreme desire for variety. This cracked me up, yet it was completely true. I am trying to simplify my life without giving up my beloved variety. I am not sure how to do that yet, but I will try to simplify the things that matter least to me. Food will probably always remain a high priority for variety.

      If anyone else enjoys the variety of life, yet has succeeded in simplifying in some areas, I would appreciate any advice you may have.

    • Rebecca says:

      I try and let myself have fewer choices for making dinner and clothes, etc, so I wont feel overwhelmed about the other stuff in my life. If my home life is too overwhelming, I will be frozen when it comes to stuff like going to the gym, or doing a fun field trip with the kids.

  • Becky says:

    It really depends on what area of life you’re talking about. I tend to mostly stick to a couple of fiction genres when it comes to finding new things to read. I’m generally ok with limiting choices for breakfast and lunch/eating a lot of the same things for that, but when it comes to cooking dinners, I do have my tried-and-true recipes but I also like mixing it up with new recipes. I’m also not the type of person who does well with a minimalist wardrobe–for one thing, sewing clothes is my main hobby! But my wardrobe is currently very small due to being pregnant, and instead of feeling freedom from very few choices, I honestly feel restricted and it’s taking me much longer to decide what to wear because I already wore that thing twice this week and I’m bored. Maybe I’m just weird compared to most of your readers?

  • I definitely think there is something to this, however, like with all things, balance is key.

    I think we need to find what our stressor are. Too many cloehtes making your morning a nightmare, pare things down. Boredom and routine can be stressors in their own way too though if they are making you miserable.

    A lot of stress comes from unfullfilling work, for example.

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve really taken this lesson to heart. In the last two years, my life has drastically changed. I went from being a stay-at-home mom to going back to school full time and working 30+ hours per week. My husband is now on permanent disability and is now a stay-at-home dad. I have had to learn to let go of a lot of decision making! Is it easy? No. It is incredibly hard to trust someone else to do everything I have done for the last 15+ years… even if it is my husband. But I have learned that to be present at each part of my life (work, school, and home), I can’t sweat the small stuff. I can’t second guess every decision my husband makes. I can’t check up or follow up on every little part of our family’s life. When I am tempted to do so, I ask myself if whatever it is will be important 5 years from now… if the answer is ‘no’, I let it go.

  • Ashley Merrithew says:

    I’ve always naturally preferred less clothes. If I find something I like, I want to wear it as often as possible.

    One place I’d like to incorporate this more in my life is in menu planning. I for some reason feel like we always need to be eating something different, but menu planning and grocery shopping would be so much more simple if I just chose a few meals and rotated through them. This is one thing I’m working on doing this year.

    • HappyWife says:

      Yes I agree. I have handed the reins over to my husband bcz he can plan a week worth of meal in 15 min it takes me an hour or more! I think I have to have variety, but need to work on keeping it simple.
      I’ve made menu planning harder than it should be because the expectations I have on myself or what I think menu planning is.

  • Heather says:

    I love change, and get bored quickly with routine. Can’t stand eating the same thing all the time (first world problem, I know). But years ago, when I was on a mission, by the last few months I was down to only 2 outfits. It was so incredibly freeing! Maybe I’ll give it a try again.

  • Mona says:

    I eat the same thing for breakfast each day and normally have the same lunch everyday. I have a few meal plans that we cycle through. As a kid we had a certain meal for dinner each day. I always knew what was for dinner. It was easy. I’ve been working on simplifying my wardrobe. It’s hard though!

  • Lisa says:

    I too had noticed that recently about the clothes – I’m pregnant and tried to keep maternity clothes to a minimum and as such I was able to pack a lot less to take to my parents’ for Christmas, being that I only have one nice dress to cover two Sunday church services, two Christmas services (one with each family) and a night out at the symphony. I wore the heck out of that dress, but it was SO NICE to be able to just run and throw it on without having to think about what to wear and what goes together and what accessories will or won’t work.

  • tammy says:

    This is such great advice!!! It seems like it would help us to be more content too!! The thing about simplifying like this too is that it helps us to be more free to focus on the people in our lives, not the stuff.

  • Leah says:

    Love this – very thought provoking. I’ve found that letting go of making “perfect” decisions has been very freeing.

    I can make decisions that work, and stop second guessing myself or constantly worrying if it is the “best” decision to make, and move on to the next one in peace.

    Oh, analysis paralysis, I know you well….but I am spending less time with you. 🙂

  • Beth says:

    This idea is so appealing to me…but im pretty sure it would drive my husband crazy! 🙂

  • N Merritt says:

    Oh boy! This post has hit a nerve with me. My husband has always told me my dinners are never the same twice. I always felt variety was the spice of life, but after taking a family trip over the holidays, I realized living with 2 to 3 choices is not so bad after all. I’m currently having the family cut back on our wardrobe, because I see the time wasted, when toddlers need to find the “right” outfit.
    Thanks so much for the info!

  • Beth Anne says:

    I DEFINITELY agree that this works! However, I am someone who loves NEW things and variety to a fault!

    Here’s how I balance the two: Most days, my hair is pulled back, I wear the same make-up, and my favorite thing in winter is to wear neutral colors of this one basic style of sweater but pair it with the bazillion different scarves I have.

    And then, when it’s a special occasion, you’ll rarely see me wearing the same dress more than once. (I sell them online or give them to friends.) I fix my hair differently. I add different jewelry. Add new makeup.

    I don’t think I could ever simplify my wardrobe to the extreme because I love fashion and find it super fun, but… most days as a mom, I do make my choices easy

    As for food…. no way…. gotta have variety. My guilty pleasure even changes from month to month – chocolate peanut butter one month, Skittles the next, a certain cookie the next. Some months I want raspberries all month and the next I’m into pineapple. I am a person who thrives on change, but I admire people who have strict routines and stick to them.

  • Jennifer says:

    This works for spiritual matters too! If you have a set of Bible standards/convictions you believe you don’t always have to ask yourself “what should I do” . Example. Sundays are church days for us. We never think on Saturday, should we go to church tomorrow? The decision is made ahead of time:) This is a very simple example but it works just as well with other decisions.

    • Heather B. says:

      I agree with this. Our minister says, “Make one decision to go to church every Sunday (unless sick or out of town), not 52 decisions as to whether to go or not each week.” Much simpler!

    • Lana says:

      You are so right! Also, my husband always picks up his Bible and reads a passage out loud after finishing his breakfast. The day feels funny without it.

  • Amanda says:

    I made a comment to my husband about how I’d love if my kids (boy and girl) had coordinating/matching outfits for every day, and he looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t put into words how that would simplify life for me. (Besides trying to find matching boys & girls clothes! ha) Thanks for saying exactly what I meant. 🙂

    • Amanda, that was one of the blessings of having a uniform my senior year in high school. I owned one skirt, two polos, an oxford, and a sweater. It was very simple to decide what to wear. 🙂

  • Carla says:

    I wear the same black skirt every Sunday to church and have a few tops to change. I wear the same blue slacks when jeans are not appropriate ( volunteer job) Nd the same jeans with a couple of sweatshirts! No stress!

  • Angel says:

    “The one word that makes a good manager-Decisiveness”

  • Staci says:

    I thrive on change. I am a balanced person though with a very creative side. I can’t be on this side of the spectrum. Variety is my spice of life. To each their own though. NO judgement. It was interesting perspective, Crystal.

    • Sarah says:

      Same here, Staci. It’s just no FUN to wear the same outfits or eat the same food every time I eat out. 😉 I agree, though, if it works for you, I can see the benefits.

    • You sound like my daughter, Kaitlynn. Pretty sure she’d go crazy if she had my simple wardrobe. She such creative flair and finds so much delight in putting together new outfit combinations!

  • Great post! I’ve been doing this in many areas of my life without realizing the “psychology” behind it.
    – In order to eat a more healthy diet – I eat the same things for breakfast, lunch & snack. Dinner has some variety, but still is same proportion of protein/veggies/carbs in the meals.
    This makes it easier to menu plan & grocery shop, have common foods prepared, and eat at the same times everyday which has really helped.
    – Recently having baby #5, I’ve had the issue of a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear! I’d already gone through the effort of pulling out anything I didn’t like anymore, but that wasn’t enough. I also had a large variety of sizes from fluctuating weights after pregnancies. Hubby came up with a great idea for me to separate all the clothes by size and store clothes that aren’t my current size (but I still like). That freed me to not have anxiety of giving away items I still liked, while only having items in my closet that currently fit. I’m also trying to simplify my wardrobe (based off the 4×4 wardrobe highlighted in http://www.theviviennefiles.com). Basically, 2 core colors, 2 accent colors, and 1 light neutral. There’s a “formula” I’m still learning to incorporate a minimal number of tops & bottoms for maximum mix & matchability.

  • This is actually not a new concept to me. When I studied in France, the first of three semesters I lived with a host family in near Mt. St. Micheal, and when my host sister saw how many shirts, hoodies, sweaters, etc. I brought, she informed me that the French believe that its better to own three shirts, good quality shirts, in similar styles that work well for you, than a closet full of things that don’t fit your life. I found that so liberating. I loved seeing so many women, of all different ages, and walks of life wearing vintage pullovers, vintage scarves, vintage bags, all items that seemed to fit their essence to a tee, all items that they didn’t have to fall into debt for, was so awesome! So for me, I always liked this idea not so much for the simplicity of routine it creates, but the better quality of life it brings forth!

    • I love this! Thanks for sharing!

    • Anna says:

      I am reading “French Kids Eat Everything” right now and how the French school cafeteria only serves one 3-course lunch for all the kids (but menu changes daily) and I can’t even imagine how freeing it is to not have to stand there in line and figure out what to eat. This is a radical and enticing concept for me.

      • If you have Hulu or Netflix, be sure to check out the Anthony Bourdain Series, “No Reservations,” and the Lyon episode; the episode shows an actual French cafeteria. In fact the principle of the school took classes to become a chef so she could feed her students better, more nutritional lunches. All of the students eat the same three course meal, are introduced proper dinner etiquette, and are exposed to higher quality ethnic dishes, too! The kicker, her student lunches cost half of what they do in the states in public school cafeterias.

  • Mia says:

    I make our menu the same every week except for one day a week. Mexican Monday. Soup on Wednesday. Pizza Night every Friday. Pasta night and a cultural night. Make meals planning a snap and we always have what we need in the pantry. I have days with certain cleaning chores and routines with the kids. With four kids comes some need for flexibility but at least its more managable with a plan.

  • Emily says:

    Wow! This is so thought provoking! Before reading this, I felt the slightest twing of how nice this might be when my kids asked we could just jave grilled cheese for dinner. Ah! How simple! The nicest part might be that I didn’t have to think about it. I need to read this book and figure out how to apply it more in my life.

  • Rachel says:

    I like to keep things simple while still enjoying some variety in my wardrobe. Here’s what I do.

    My everyday dresses (and Sunday ones as well) get worn on rotation. I hang the clean ones on the left, and wear whatever is on the right. So I get variety while still being able to just grab and go! 🙂

    • Laura says:

      Great idea!

    • Anna says:

      Haha! I was just explaining this the umpteenth time to my preteen daughter yesterday. To help her face the changes of growing up she’ll be going through in the next few years, we have been helping her form routines and develop habits so that she has less to think about when her brain and body start to really change.

  • Stephanie says:

    I gave each of my four children a mug with their initial on it (from Target – super cute), threw out all of the plastic cups and bowls, purged some old dishes and replaced them. Now everything matches, so there is no fighting over the frog bowl or the Broncos cup. Everyone has their own cup and they use it throughout the day, it gets packed in the dishwasher at night, and it is ready for the morning. This ONE tiny thing has made a difference! Amazing. Less in more (except when we’re discussing chocolate chips – then more is way way better). Happy 2015 – love your site!

  • Sue K says:

    ha! I thought I was the only one who did things like that! And now it turns out there’s a good reason for it.

    Now — how to apply that to email. Being a relationship-sort-of-person, I love to read and re-read email to make sure it is perfect, and include little tidbits of whatever. I guess realizing there’s an “issue” is the first step towards solving it…. (See how long I made that? I could have stopped after the first sentence.)

    It’s a post idea for you!

  • Sarah says:

    I love this, it’s so true. I used to think I was “boring” by eating the same meals and wearing the same outfits, but you’re totally right – it’s genius to do this!! Instead of spending hours each week creating a meal plan, I plan what I already know how to cook, leaving me more time with my husband, kids and work (though, I do want to get a little more creative with meals, haha).

    This also is a great way of thinking when it comes to saving money. If you think simply, you won’t want a massive wardrobe of clothes and you’ll appreciate what you do have! Thanks!!

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  • As for me, I really love to keep things simple. As much as possible, I just buy a single item for each type of things I need – like a single watch, a basic bag, etc. – really make things a lot easier and simpler, and more frugal. And it works perfectly for me. 🙂

  • Hmmm, this is an interesting concept. I wear a lot of black as it’s my favorite color for clothes. Sometimes people will mention it, so I can just say, “Hey, I’ve got so many day to day decisions to make. I like to keep things simple, timeless.” 😉 Sounds good to me. LOL

  • Emily says:

    Amen to that. I only wear black or grey pants. They match my shoes, my belt, my socks and all of my shirts. Picking out clothes in the morning means making sure I have both a shirt and pants. Couldn’t be simpler.

  • Tricia says:

    I love this post! I recently cleaned out my closet and got rid of a lot of my clothes. I’ve always been bad about thinking “but I might want to wear that again, I better keep it”. But I decided it was time to simplify life. I’m amazed at how much time it saves getting ready because I have fewer choices to make when I open those closet doors. I’m a homeschooling mom to 4 girls (2 with special needs). I feel like every moment of every day is full of choices. I love the idea of making fewer choices and it freeing up my time. Anxious to try this idea with menu planning.

  • Myrna says:

    I thought I was OCD because I do a lot of repetitive things. Now I know I am not alone and there’s a good reason behind my actions. I go to the same restaurants and order the same things so I know I will like what I get. Why worry? Wearing the same clothing is comforting. Just a few of the things I do to simplify and minimize decisions. Thank you for writing this.

  • Jen says:

    Love this! We have 5 kids ages 15-8 and life is so busy that I’m always looking for ways to simplify things. My husband and oldest daughter thrive on changes while the rest of us like regular patterns. One way this has worked for us in the food dept. is that we shop at the grocery outlet where things are always changing. Couponing also has our family trying new things as we just buy whatever is on sale or I have a coupon for. The meals are on a regulatr rotation, but the ingredients are often a little different. Same with shopping at the thrift store…never know what you will find!

  • Lizzie says:

    I think if someone loves making the choice of what to eat or what to wear, every day then go for it 🙂 But maybe there is another area where doing the same routine would benefit them and save time…..

    Anyway, I read something similar to this in Entre Leadership and shared it with my son. He used to take several minutes choosing gum in the check out line ;0 the basic idea was that only life changing decisions need a large amount of time to make. Everything else (including gum~) can be made in a second. If it doesn’t alter your life or cost a large sum of $ decide and move on.

  • Crystal, I can so identify with this! I eat the same thing for breakfast every day and I love it! Can’t wait to read Jon’s new book also. Wish I was on the special list to get an advanced reader’s copy too. 🙂

  • Julia says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this post. How often I feel like Mama Bear from the Berenstain Bears “Messy Room”, wanting to drag a large trash can through the house and just clean out all our STUFF that’s getting in the way of life. I can’t wait to go room by room this year and clean out everything we don’t use!

  • Kim F. says:

    I’ve also read that kids that have a lot of toys or clothing can get stressed out over decisions of what toy to play with or what to wear. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot. I remember getting a new dress for church for Easter Sunday to wear until I got my next new dress at Christmas to wear until the next Easter. Can’t get much simpler than that! And it seemed to me that most everyone I knew did the same thing. I think I need to simplify and make my life easier!

  • Lisa says:

    This is exactly why I love shopping at Aldi. One brand of each item, so no wasting time deciding which brand to buy. I’m in and out in 30 minutes.

  • Dorcas Martin says:

    I love that someone already mentioned Aldi. I beat myself up for years hearing girlfriends talk about their amazing couponing and going from store to store to grab amazing deals. Then about a year ago, I read somewhere that if you shop at Aldi, on an average you save 40% right off the bat. Between the 40% off, the extra money I save not driving all over Egypt, and saving the time it takes to clip coupons, I have happily decided to stick with Aldi! On top of that, I’ve read more about consumer fatigue and realize how simple it is to shop at Aldi and not be bombarded with choices! Another bonus about Aldi is that they have less workers, which means it is easier to make acquaintances there that can easily help you or just give you a familiar smile. I found out my local Aldi pays $23/hr. I was very impressed that they pay them that much and that is probably why the I see the very same workers week after week:) So much of your article I could relate to! Simplicity and routines make me a calmer Mama. I’m also a THM Mama as well which has made me a healthier Mama:)

  • Lori says:

    This is eye opening. I thought I’d cleared out my closets last week, but now realized that I haven’t done enough. I have many clothes that I’ve kept because “they might fit me someday.” I don’t think I even like them anymore!

    I also have tons of shoes that I bought because they were pretty, but I never wear them so it’s time for them to go. I also keep things out of guilt because a loved one has purchased them for me, but they are stifling me so I have to let them go.

    I have trouble eating the same thing, but started streamlining my meals last week. I found a youtube site on food prep and cooked a large batch of healthy food items then labeled and froze them in individual containers. I can just pull them out of the freezer the day before and lunch is ready.

    I though they would taste bad (frozen), but they don’t, and it’s been wonderful to not have to worry about what to bring to work. I make sure to add different sauces or condiments to make them taste differently.

    Thank you for this wonderful article, and the comments have been great, too. I cannot wait to read the book.

  • I know what you mean, my sisters always try and give me their older clothes since they feel my “style” is a bit off. I do like what they give me, and sometimes will keep some I really like. If I do this, I in turn will take an item out of my closet and donate it, rather than simply being greedy and just adding to my wardrobe. When donating, especially clothing, I try and make sure it goes to a cause that will actually give the clothing to someone in need rather than to a thrift store who will simply re-sell it. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping at thrift stores, I feel my money goes to a better cause that way, however I feel that clothing should go to the needy.

  • Beth says:

    Ah, yes, same clothes, same breakfast, great post. Would love to be close to Aldi. God bless you.

  • Jenny says:

    I totally agree with this, but the getting there is a little bit difficult. Hopefully this will be our year to reduce, and get down to fewer decisions. My husband and I both agree we have way too much stuff. It’s just hard to decide what to get rid of. I know a while back you did a video of your summer wardrobe. Would you be willing to do a winter one? Also, I would love to know what toys, etc. your kids currently have . We have way too many, but it’s hard for me to decide what to get rid of. I have three boys (9, 4, 1). My oldest will be ten at the beginning of February. (I think my son and your oldest daughter are very close in age.). I know they could be content with a whole lot less. I’m just afraid of getting rid of the wrong thing. We have been given so many cool toys from older cousins. Thank you. You are always such an inspiration!

    • I saw a really great post on toys from LWSL about reducing her kids toys, and it was really great. If you haven’t read this already I would highly suggest it. LWSL is how I came to find out about Crystal and Money Saving Mom. They are two of my favorite blogs.

      • Jenny says:

        Nikki,
        Thanks for responding! I’m guessing the article you are referring to is the one where she takes all of her kids toys away? Good stuff! I have that one pinned. I should probably read through it again, and then get busy purging.
        Jenny

        • That’s the one, I meant to attach the link but got distracted by the kiddos when I was commenting. Nap time is a fickle thing. I just recently reduced my kids toys, not by that much but enough, so that I could organize them a lot better. I also started labeling where to put their toys and it helped a heck of a lot. Apparently my girl needed to have a place for everything.

  • Steve Kobrin says:

    I think two schools of thought apply here. In many situations I like multiple choices because competition can breed a higher quality. This is especially true with important or expensive items like houses and cars.

    At the same time, there can be overkill. I personally don’t need dozens of pairs of shoes because after a while the differences seem irrelevant. Once you get to a point where you have many options just to have them, you know you are really just self-indulgent.

  • Very true! After a lot of reflecting, I made my own planner for the year. On one page of paper, I listed all 7 days – with the items I want to accomplish each day. I kept it simple. “Devotions, Vitamins, Exercise, Read, Dishes, Blog.” Then, I added two extra lines after that to add in an extra task or two. I also have a short list of weekly chores. At the bottom of the page, I added a dozen or so lines for extra chores for the week. By keeping it simple, I’m able to accomplish more!

  • Amanda says:

    After having lived with way too many choices for most of my life and marrying a man who literally only had the same colors and shirts, same food at each restaurant, etc. I see the benefit.

    It used to take me an hour to get ready because I didn’t know which outfit I wanted to wear. Then it was time to figure out the shoes. Before I married, I owned 90 pairs of shoes…. No I am not exaggerating.

    I have since paired down many things and living a more simplified lifestyle had helped me be productive.

    I now allow myself room to have choices, but that us only as time allows. If I am busy, my creative choosy side has to take a back seat so I can be productive. It can be difficult to reign that side it at times. Reality makes it a necessity though! I would never get anything done if I still lived that way.

    • Cris says:

      Thanks for making me feel better about MY shoe collection! 😉
      I must say that lots were gifts or hand me downs from a good friend but still I go sometimes a few years without wearing a certain pair but can’t bring myself to get rid of it because I think “next summer I’ll wear it!”

      Now seriously even though I do like clothes, shoes and accessories a whole lot having a work uniform is one of the best things ever for someone that likes to sleep until as late as I can (read 6 am on work days). I’d hate to have to figure out what to wear every single day. I enjoy that I only get to do it when I’m off and need to leave the house (stayed in pajamas all day yesterday…).

  • Kariane says:

    I love, love, love this idea. Time to donate some clothes to charity.

  • Malia says:

    Now I think I understand why I have such anxiety when I read your blog…don’t get me wrong, I totally admire all of the things you are able to do, but I kick myself for not being able to be even half as productive or organized as you are. But, when I read this post and think of how boring life would feel (to me) with limited choices and set routines I realize that it’s just a personality difference! God makes all kinds of moms, and I think as long as I can embrace the kind he’s made me to be, I’m going to be ok! Now to figure out how to get more done without feeling boxed in…that one may take a while 🙂

    • jen says:

      I agree. I couldn’t live with a life with not much flexible because of a tight routine or schedule. Yes, maybe not all my housework gets done but its okay. God created us all different. I like flexibility because we can do spurt of the moment fun things as a family. I am not usually stressed when I don’t finish a project. I know I will get it done another day. And that’s okay. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    got my hair cut very short so I could stop choosing a new look every few months after 20 years of regularly changing my entire cut and color. So simple now! Every six weeks I get a trim, that’s it. I feel more “me” than I ever have because my hair is no longer something I worry and wonder about.

  • Rachel B says:

    I’ve always been somewhat of a minimalist, but a couple years ago I went on a month-long bike trip and had very limited space, so the only clothing options I had for off the bike were 1 pair of stretchy capri pants and 3 shirts. Although I look back and now wish I had brought a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt for the cold days 🙂 I absolutely loved not having to think about what I was going to wear.

    Back at home, though, I find I do need a bit more variety. I’m still a minimalist, don’t get me wrong, but it only creates more stress to have a semi-formal event come up and have nothing to wear, and no money to go out and buy something. So balance is still needed.

  • This is so reassuring to me!!! I have the same winter vests and wear them in the house all winter long. Only about 2-3 pairs of earrings and 2-3 pairs of shoes. I feel like I’m not interesting enough when I see “fashionistas” but I don’t have the time to do much else.

    Glad I’m in good company :)!

  • Julie says:

    That’s so funny but I have never even thought about this but I actually live quite simply so not to have to worry too much. Great read.

  • Marilee says:

    Wow I love this, I didn’t realize I already do this. I pick the same thing at the same restaurants, the same jeans for running quick errands, and the same shirt for bed time. Good to know that as helping me not being boring. Lol

  • Karen says:

    This is very much how I operate. Sometimes my kids tease me about being boring, but it makes life simpler.

  • Great motivation! Along these lines, I’d recommend checking out Marie Kondo’s new book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering.

    It meshes perfectly with your ideas about paring down decisions. After years of struggling to become a “minimalist” this book gave me permission to stop my excessive consumption of, well, life!

    As you said, “Those of you who thrive on variety would probably find this incredibly boring.” I’ve found when I’m craving variety, it’s usually because I’m unhappy with something in my life. When we’re confident and in a good place, there’s little desire to give ourselves excessive choices and variety – because we’re happy where we are.

    Great post!

  • Ashley S. says:

    I’ve heard of this and there is certainly something to be said for the negative affects of having to make too many decisions in a day. It has been studied and we get lazier and make poorer choices as the day of decision making goes on. At the same time, I think we all find joy in different things! I get such a thrill out of pairing a different shirt with a skirt than I had tried before and realizing how cute they look! Or switching up the accessories with an outfit, to match a different pair of leggings than I wore the last time and it feels like a whole new outfit! This means way less shopping, because I can create new looks every day with what is in my closet. And getting compliments my outfit that day (even if it’s just from the hubby) makes me feel more confident and more in control of the day. I see how it takes up more time, but I always use time when I’m in the shower to think about my different options for the day, so it usually isn’t so bad really.

    Same goes for meals. I can see how that would really simplify things to always eat the same thing, but I just get so bored! I want to look forward to what I’ll have for dinner or breakfast! I think we always have our stand byes and they tend to just be in rotation, but I like getting to decide what I feel like having in the morning, not feeling like I have to eat the same thing, because it will save my brain power…funny how everyone can take comfort in different things! I will definitely keep this in mind though if I feel like it is becoming more of a burden than a benefit. Thanks for the thought provoking conversation!

  • Heather says:

    Love this post! I like predictability and practically so I like the same coffee daily, eat the same thing for lunch, wear only my wedding ring, my diamond earrings and a bracelet daily. If I wear a necklace I only own 3. My purses are easy-I only own 2. One for fall/winter, one for spring summer. They are both 10+ years old and both D&B and look brand new. My hair style is easy, either down straight or in a pony and is the same way I’ve styled it since college. I like not having to decide on these minor things to enjoy other aspects of my life. My husband is the same way. We like to save our money and not try new things to waste. Although we enjoy being adventuresome in our lives we enjoy these core things that evoke calmness in us and our lives.

  • Cayt says:

    I currently have a huge trash bag of tank tops sitting in my living room giving me anxiety every time my eye catches it. Why? Because I needed tank tops and my friend was getting rid of tank tops and she apparently bought every color tank top they had at Old Navy for the past 3 years. I neither need nor want so many and I need to sort through it, but there are just so many different colors. Don’t get me wrong, I am super grateful. It’s just funny that I am struggling with the stress of making mundane decisions and I stumble across this post. Funny isn’t really the word, but I can’t think of one to properly describe the distinct feeling that God is reaching down and shaking me by the shoulders screaming “SIMPLIFY”.

  • Kristin says:

    Love this! Thank you Crystal. Your Making Over Your Mornings course has been awesome. I almost didn’t do it because I thought to myself “I can figure out how to make over my mornings, really. I know what I should do, I just need to implement it,” but something in me said to do it anyway, and I’m SO glad I did! I did already “know” a lot of it, but sometimes you need someone to coach you into something and reaffirm things to get you to make the decisions needed to make actual change, and that’s what you did for me. 🙂 Thank you thank you! And this decision thing… oh man. I am all for routine, but for some reason always feel pressure to change things up more. After reading this, I realize how silly that is. No more crazy decision making pressure, I will gladly redistribute that energy somewhere else. Thanks for the eye opener!

  • Michelle Owings-Christian says:

    This is a great deal to think about. I have a larger wardrobe than yours. However, I *love* clothes, and have recently lost 60 pounds, so have had to buy all new summer clothes because the ones from last year literally fell off me when I tried them on. When I had gastric bypass surgery 13 years ago, I decided that I would never buy any garment that did not go with *at least* three other garments I already owned. The one exception was a dress that I would wear to a wedding, or the black dress I had to buy for concert attire when I participated in a Regional Choir. (By the way, that dress has become my “little black dress”, which is totally fine.) Another point is that I don’t buy something unless it looks so good on me that it *MUST* come home with me RIGHT NOW. It can’t look “meh”, it must look “WOW”. And if it’s on the clearance rack, even better. I also recently gave myself permission to wear the skirts that I had deemed “fancy wear” sometimes when I am just running errands, or going to a doctor’s appointment. The only other place I wear them is church, and I want to wear them.

    As for food — I cook the same kinds of meat on a rotation, and depending on what’s on sale, certainly — however, I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. I love my crock pot and I am always on the lookout for crockpot and “dump” recipes. My honey is a real “meat and potatoes” kind of guy most of the time, so I can’t go too crazy. We go to the same few restaurants because he likes to go there — and that’s fine. If I had to eat the same exact thing every time I WOULD LOSE MY MIND!!! As it is, I am careful about what I eat and usually eat appetizers because I am a gastric bypass patient and have a very tiny stomach. I bring them home anyway, and eat lunch for a few days. 😉

    I am taking your Make Over Your Mornings course, and I am thinking about how to reduce decision fatigue in ways that make sense for me. My house is in an uproar — my sister moved out but she left some of here belongings here. Once they are gone, we are switching rooms around and re-purposing them. I am excited because I will have a bedroom with all my clothes in the same place, with a real closet. I will also have an office with a DOOR!! A real door! I don’t have children. One might never know that by how many times my honey just bursts into my office and starts babbling about something. Most of the time I let him. Some of the time, I say “I’m doing x, come back in an hour.” So I am planning to put a note on my door that says “I am in class” or “I am working”. Unless it is an emergency or a ministerial call, please do not knock. If you must get something out now, before you burst, write it on the note pad with the pen provided, and put it in the folder. I will look at it when I take a break.” But Crystal — a real door!!!!

  • Sarah says:

    Hi there! I am taking the MOYM course and popped over to this article. I love this concept. I have decision anxiety when trying to purchase clothes for my capsule wardrobe. When shopping I try to consider my budget, good fit, good style that isn’t too trendy so I can wear it for years to come. Plus my weight yo-yo’s so investing in quality pieces seems silly if I am going to lose weight again. Any suggestions? I would love your take on this!

  • Jill Johnson says:

    I’m on day 12 in makeover your mornings… I love this. I just need to get the plan in place and not still love the idea three weeks from now. I like the suggestion to put an appointment on my calendar to get this nailed down.

    My dad eats the same breakfast and lunch and that has always appealed to me – he eats healthy and it’s a given. Just a routine. He likes it.

    I also know that the wardrobe is also a great idea – I have to wear black pants or skirt with my blue work shirts. I have quite a few, but I only wear a few, depending on season. I will rework my closet this week also. I will donate stuff and put the stuff that is too small or just for special occasions in another area so that they don’t get into the mix… I like it organized and if I pare it down, it’ll be easy to keep it that way. It’s also a great opportunity to step up my daily look a little. I’m losing weight and it’s much better for me to get some real clothes on each day and not laze around in jammy pants and a t-shirt.

    The other area that challenges me is where to begin in the office – I work full time and I’m going to employ a “morning routine for at the office” as well that will include a to do list with a master to do list to pull from as possible. There is always a lot to do and this will help if I can solidify a routine.

    By the way, I can solidify a routine in the morning at work because I no longer rush in just in time for a meeting feeling guilty because I get up at 5:30 and have quiet time before getting ready at 7 and leaving at 7:30… lovely! I get to work consistently earlier than before and I feel so good about that too!! (…i was frequently still asleep at 7 and later rushing to get going about the time i know get to work…. i have an hour drive… crazy!!)

  • Jill Johnson says:

    wow… missing some commas and “know” instead of “now”… I wish I’d read before hitting post…

  • Amy says:

    I think there’s quite a bit of wisdom to this. I’m in the fitness biz, and I’m almost certain I read somewhere that people who stuck to routine foods in their eating plan ended up losing more weight. Eating at home definitely helps, and having a few key foods to rely on for breakfast and lunch makes it less stressful to figure out what to eat. It’s an interesting idea, though personally I need some variety in my foods for happiness.

    I like the idea of simplifying my wardrobe – I want to go purge it right now! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Anna Sadler says:

    I find I’m not stressed hardly at all about a variety of make-up palette options. I’m one of those people who never wears the same hair-do two days in a row. I do sometimes have some stress over picking clothes, but only because I do not have the budget to update me wardrobe regularly (and I am no fashionista). But I do see where this could play into other areas of my life like meal planning, breakfasts especially, and travel plans like you ere mentioning. I’m guessing this is one of those things that just vary for different people. It’s still good to think about so you can identify which areas you personally stress over and should simplify.

    I’m working through your Makeover Your Mornings course right now and am loving it! Thanks so much for putting it out there and make it affordable!

  • Lynn says:

    This is fantastic advice!
    Thanks for writing and sharing this simplicity secret.

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