little habits / big impact
Research says we make about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions a day. These range from trivial to impactful. You know how your brain feels tired after lots of thinking and decision making? Or how you make worse decisions later in the day than you would in the morning? That’s decision fatigue.
It’s all about opening up mental space and minimizing the number of decisions you need to make. This provides more bandwidth and time to think and make decisions about the things that matter most.
Of course we can’t eliminate all decisions (and we probably wouldn’t want to), but we can definitely cut down on mental clutter by incorporating habits that make life easier and your brain happier.
1. Create and follow routines
I know routines aren’t in alignment for everyone, but they work for me! I thrive with structure and a plan. The beauty is that you can set up routines for any area of your life. Every day looks a little different around here, so I’m not strict to these routines, but they give me a great place to start.
I have a morning routine, an evening routine, a skincare routine, and a cleaning routine that I’ve adapted from Clean Mama’s schedule. I don’t even have to think about what to do in these areas because I already have a plan. Identify areas of your life that could benefit from a routine and find what works best.
2. Use a planner
Something else you probably already know about me: I’m a sucker for planners. I believe in the power of writing things down, so I’d be lost without my Simplified Planner (pro tip- use that link and get $10 off).
I’m able to make decisions much easier when I already know what’s on my plate. I’m also able to get everything out of my head and safely onto paper – all appointments, meetings, reminders, tasks, etc. This honestly keeps me from going crazy and totally forgetting everything.
3. Utilize apps
I also believe in the power of digital. Our phones are powerful, lets allow them to work for us. My two favorite apps for clearing mental clutter are the Notes app and Minimalist.
In my Notes app I create lists for everything from grocery to encouraging words to wish lists (usually instead of buying some impulsively, I add what I want to this list and give myself space – bonus tip. I’ve come a long way with my shopping habits). Basically anything I need/want to remember.
Minimalist is an app to create lists, easy enough. Anything that pops into my head I can quick type in this app. Maybe it’s something I need to do later or a great idea for a blog post. I just add it here and then action it when I have time to process it. Hello mental space! I understand this could easily be done in my Notes app, but I like having a separate place and quick access. Do whatever floats your boat 🙂
We’re blessed (and maybe lazy) to live in a world that allows for so much automatization. The biggest one I use and love is automatic bill pay. No longer do I need to think “should I pay this now” “did I pay this yet” “should I put it on this card or that card” or anything else related. It’s taken care of and done. When you add up all the bills you pay each month, that cuts down on quite a bit of decisions!
A few of my other favorites are setting the coffee maker for the morning and using my Crockpot or Instantpot for meals. I’m all about set it and forget it. If you’re anything like me, many of your decisions and thoughts each day revolve around food, so this takes care of a good bit.
5. Schedule your next appointment before you leave
On my quest to become a healthier Rachel that stays on top of her appointments, this has been so helpful. For me, it’s so much easier to reschedule an appointment that no longer works than to call and set up a brand new one.
Before I walk out of any dentist, doctor, or other important appointment I go ahead and schedule the next visit. I usually make it for as early in the morning as possible so nothing else can come up. Then it’s on my calendar and nothing more to think about. It’s so simple, but it probably took me at least 25 years to figure this one out.
6. Do less, but better
Say “no” as needed and cut the nonessentials. This sounds harsh, but not everything is for you. Or maybe just not for this season. That’s totally okay because there’s things that are for you and they deserve your energy and focus.
You won’t have to make any further decisions if you politely decline something that isn’t for you. Similarly, you won’t have to make any further decisions if you cut out something that isn’t serving you. Commit to the things that matter most and do them well.
7. Enjoy go-tos wherever you can
Determine and enjoy your go to hair style, makeup look, outfit, meal — anything you need to decide on day in and day out. To some this may sound boring, but to me this sounds like a simplified dream.
You may have heard that highly effective people like Steve Jobs wore basically the same outfit everyday. That’s one less huge decision he had to make each morning. Plus when it comes to shopping, how simple can it get? If you have a “uniform” for yourself, you already know what you have, what you need, and what will fit in well to your closet. This idea can be applied anywhere.
I think this is especially helpful in extremely busy seasons, but you could benefit from it anytime. If just one go to seems too limiting for you, decide on a few or a handful of go tos so you’re choosing from a much smaller selection of things you already know you like.
Remember, it doesn’t require drastic change to make a difference. Focus on one adjustment at a time and build on that positivity. Little by little adds up.
Which habit will you introduce first?
Do you have any habits to add?