Decision Elimination? (Or Consolidation!)

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I'm sure you've heard of decision elimination as a productivity hack, most notably exemplified by the "work uniforms" employed by Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.  They both have many of the same outfits (we hope!) and they wear the same thing every day, so they never have to think about what to wear and can spend that mental energy elsewhere.  Or there are people who "eat" Soylent so they can nourish their bodies without having to even decide what to eat, let alone cook it.

I think wearing the exact same thing everyday, or eating the same thing every day, is a bit too extreme for me.  (I like variety!) 

However, I believe there are still HUGE benefits to be had from what I'm going to call "decision consolidation".  The difference between "decision elimination" and "decision consolidation" is that the latter allows room for personal expression and the desire for variety, while consolidating the thinking about these things to a short period of time on either a weekly or monthly basis, so you really are limiting the mental energy expended.  The following are examples of areas of life where you can practice decision consolidation.

Think of the following as templates.  They share a structure, but you can swap out the details

At Work:

  • Do recurring tasks on a schedule.  For instance:
    • Submit your expenses on the last Friday of the month
    • Check email at 10am, 1pm and 4pm
  • Build email templates (use canned responses in Gmail) to reply to common requests.
  • Goal setting - Your likely doing this already (bonus!) if you set goals quarterly or annually.

At Home:

  • CSAs - Get your produce, meat and/or seafood from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Each week, you'll receive a variety of items and you didn't have to make any choices.  If you can't find a meat or fish CSA in your area, just ask your local butcher or fishmonger to put one together for you.  I bet they'll be delighted that they get to exercise some creativity in their jobs.  (My butcher was happy to do it!)
  • Wardrobe -
    • Select your work outfits on Sunday evening, hang them up, and be ready to go all week long.
    • If you have small kids, stack clothes in "outfits" (shirt, pants, socks, undies) in the closet instead of by like-item.  It doesn't take any longer to put the clothes away, but you get to avoid helping your kids find something suitable to wear each morning, as they can just grab a stack and get moving.
  • Meal Planning - Plan out your meals on a weekly basis.  No more time wracking your brain on they way home from work about what to cook for dinner!  Take it a step further and plan your lunches and breakfasts, too!

Now get to it!  Pick something you're sick of thinking about, and make it into a process you do only once a week.  

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