Decision-Making Fatigue: 3 Ways to Minimize Choices

Did you know that there’s such a thing as decision-making fatigue? It’s a real thing. Decision fatigue in psychology has to do with the way you begin to make poorer choices the longer you have to keep making decisions. The brain gets tired. You choose the path of least resistance and end up doing crazy things because you’re so tired of making decisions. 

When every moment is about a decision, life becomes exhausting. You end up screaming at everyone, eating a whole chocolate cake, and impulse shopping. You end up watching too many episodes of something on TBS because you don’t want to have to even decide whether to turn off the TV or not. So you just sit there and do nothing but eat cake. 

Has this happened to you? Does your brain hurt because every single moment is about making a decision? I’ve been learning how to minimize choices to gain energy, mental clarity, and sanity again. (I do this as a writing instructor, by the way. I give very easy templates that reduce decision-making for the students at first so they gain some energy and clarity.)

What am I learning about this? I’m so glad you asked. And please share your own wisdom in the comments! I would love more help!

1. First, for example, I stopped deciding whether to do certain things and relegated these activities to non-negotiable behaviors. Things like chores fall into this category. I spend no mental energy deciding on whether or not to empty the dishwasher, make the beds, clean the bathrooms, or sweep the floor. You just do it. No decisions needed.

2. I’m learning the value of advanced planning to create situations that require no decision making. Things like meal-planning and daily schedules for the kids fall into this category. Even laying out clothes the night before means I’m saving all the mental energy in the morning.

3. Lastly, when I know I’m going to have to make many choices about something (like packing the whole family for a trip), I’ve learned to start a week in advance and only spend an hour making choices about clothing and accessories. Otherwise, I find myself exhausted and crabby. It’s decision fatigue.

I’m convinced that when we minimize choices–both for ourselves and our children–we find some new energy and wisdom. We can make better decisions because we’re not so overloaded all the time.

I’m willing to bet that by noon today, you’ll have made way too many decisions. I’m so curious to see what happens if you try to minimize all those decisions!

Living with flair has something to do with minimizing choices. I’m off to go make lunch (which I already decided on yesterday: fruit smoothies and sandwiches!)

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Tip #1: Use Social Media to Help

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to post random things about myself that don’t help other people. Blogging, in this case, becomes more narcissistic, self-promoting, and just a personal account that doesn’t aid humanity in some way. If you’re wondering what you’re doing on social media or how to become a professional blogger, think about this:

Ask whether what you post helps anybody or if it’s just adding to the cacophony of words spinning out here.

When I started blogging, it was to help myself manage my moods; finding that “flair” moment turned the whole day around. Life quickly became full of mystery, wonder, gratitude, and worship.

I invited others to read my blog because it helped them find some joy, too, or at least it gave them a model for how they might turn their bad days around.

Yes, I wanted Live with Flair to model a way of thinking and living, and it helped suffering people. The mission statement for the blog is clear and direct, and that’s sustained this thing over 1,550 posts.

What if you focused your blogging and social media time towards a mission of helping? You might find you experience a breakthrough.

But what kind of help, you ask?

People need timely relationship advice, practical skills, honest biblical reflection on depression or loss, or paradigm shifts you’ve had about living.

Think about using social media to love others well in these ways: encourage them, direct them into God’s love, offer training and insight based on whatever skills you have, and inspire them.

My most successful writing friends tell me that they write because they love the reader. Of course! I teach because I love the student, but in writing, I often forget the love part and focus too much on me.

I’m turning back to you.

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Today’s the Day! (But They Were Supposed to Be Peach)

 Finally! They bloom! Today’s the day!

Roses! If you remember my little plants from last year:

Last Year’s Roses 

Now, they’ve grown and are actually vining up and blooming!

Climbing Roses on Homemade Trellis

However, I ordered peach colored roses. I just know I did. And besides, I’ve been imagining peach roses all winter.

Upon closer inspection and reflection, the pink are so lovely! My dream of having my English Cottage with Climbing Roses is coming true today, and the pink version is better than the peach one.

I’m learning to hold my dreams and visions loosely. God knows exactly what I’d love best of all.

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Summer Novel Writing: Begin with a Call to Adventure

Go ahead and start writing your novel this summer. If you’re wondering how to do it or where to begin, I suggest reading up on the Hero’s Journey as a fun template. What I love about the Hero’s Journey is how the story always begins in an ordinary world with ordinary people. It’s usually boring, ho-hum, and sometimes depressing.

Maybe you feel that way right now. You’re tired of ordinary living, a boring life, ennui . . .

But then! A Call to Adventure happens, and that’s when it all takes off:

A letter from Hogwarts.
A tornado in Kansas.
A white rabbit.
A giant peach.
A message from a princess in distress.

Your character, remember, might refuse the call, confuse the call, accept the call, or negotiate in some way. Your character might also not recognize the great Call to Adventure or go on the wrong adventure altogether.

Then what? Well, you tell us.

And what if this very blog is your Call to Adventure? Accept the call, cross the threshold, gather mentors and allies, overcome challenges, seize your rewards, and take the road back as a new person.

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A Great Prayer for a Dad

Tonight I remember Psalm 112 and what a great prayer it is for fathers!

If you haven’t already, pray for dads that they would fear the Lord, take great delight in His commands, and have mighty and blessed children. This psalm also talks about the blessings of wealth and riches, light in darkness, unshakable lives, secure hearts, no fear of bad news, and triumph in all situations.

It’s a great psalm of blessing to pray every day.

Psalm 112

Praise the Lord.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
Blessed are those<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> who fear the Lord,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”>
    who find great delight<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> in his commands.
Their children<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”> will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(F)”> are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(G)”> forever.
Even in darkness light dawns<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(H)”> for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(I)”>
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(J)”>
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(K)”>
    they will be remembered<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(L)”> forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> trusting in the Lord.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”>
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”>
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”>
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”>
    their righteousness endures<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> forever;
    their horn<span class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[c]”>[c] will be lifted<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> high in honor.
10 The wicked will see<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> and waste away;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”>
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
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When It’s Taking Forever

Roses take forever to bloom.

I’ve been watching these buds for almost two weeks. It’s almost time because the rose sepals (the leaves the protect the flower inside) finally start cracking open.

These will be the first climbing roses on the trellis.

I can hardly wait. It’s interesting to note that you learn things in the waiting (like what sepals are). I like to remember to ask, “What am I supposed to learn in this waiting time?”

There’s always something.

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I’m in Charge of Family Hydration

Sometime in the last 12 years, my family put me in charge of hydration. This means that I’m the one checking in on whether or not we’re remembering to drink water. Now that my daughters are older and can take care of themselves, I’m still reminding them.

I’m reminding myself. It’s summer; it’s hot and I’m exhausted by 9:00 AM. However, when I’m hydrated, I feel so much better.

A simple reminder from Live with Flair. Go drink some water!

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Animals on the Rainbow Loom

It’s raining and cold! Instead of feeling like this is a terrible way for summer vacation to begin, we do the things we love to save for rainy days. In this case, we invite friends to make grilled cheese sandwiches that seem so comforting as the chilly rain comes in through the screen door.

The children make little animals on the rainbow loom.

My daughter and her friend make turtles and peacocks and hibiscus! On the rainbow loom! My youngest is making a little mouse right now.

They find instructions on Youtube, and soon, I watch a parade of snakes, penguins, climbing lemurs, and octopi.

My oldest is beginning a collection of signature sushi pieces on the loom. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. What fun!

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Some Slow Pie and a Few Questions

In honor of living slow and more reflectively on this last day of school, my daughters and I harvest the berries and make a strawberry pie from scratch.

Well, actually, I made the pie. They relaxed.

I also let my parents in Virginia know that I was making the same strawberry pies we made after a weekend of picking berries at Parker’s Pick Your Own Berry Farm in Clinton, Maryland back when I was young.

It is slow; you’re picking, washing, making crust, boiling the filling, and waiting for a few hours for it to set. Here’s the recipe we used. 

In the meantime, we thought of a few reflective questions about our year:

1. Did you work your hardest? Give some examples.
2. Did you make a new friend or two? Tell us about that.
3. Were you a blessing to someone? When?

It’s a slow afternoon of talking, baking, and connecting to our land and our history. What a revolt against my normal frenzy of activity! What a change!

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It’s Illegal to Pick These

My husband and I travel to find the lady slipper orchids in the forest. We look back to 2011 when our friend pointed them out in May. We aren’t sure we’ll find them again, but we do. And I go back to read about the beauty of these plants and what they symbolize to me. Enjoy!

Why You Belong Right Here

I’m walking with my neighbor in the woods.

Lady Slippers in the Woods

All of a sudden, she cries out, “The lady slippers have bloomed!”  She’s pointing to the earth, and at first, I do not see anything.

Then, I see them.

Pink Lady Slipper Blooming

I don’t even really know what I’m seeing or why it matters.   

Lady Slipper Reaches Out

My friend tells me something wondrous.  Lady slipper orchids are extraordinary.

Are You Looking at Me? 

It’s illegal to uproot them.  It’s actually against the law to harm these wild orchids.  I learn two amazing facts that explain why.

First, the US Forest Service reports that lady slippers depend upon a very special fungus in the forest that allows the seed to grow.  The fungus cares for the seed–passing on nutrients–until it grows older.  And when the plant matures, it then sends nutrients back to the fungus through its roots.  That symbiosis will be destroyed if we harvest the orchids. Even more, the trees rely on the fungus!

Second, I learn that the intricate system of orchid roots means that if you take even one plant away, you harm the entire network of orchid plants. 

Lady Slipper Family

Every single one matters.  And the location isn’t an accident.

As I think about the impossibly complex design that allows these orchids to thrive, I consider my own community.  Every single person nourishes each other, and we’re here for a reason.  There’s nothing accidental about it. The conditions for our growth exist only here.

Doesn’t God tell us that He “searches out the exact places where we live” (Acts 17) and that we are “all part of one body”? (Romans 12)

You are here for a marvelous reason.  We need you!  And even when these growing conditions seem like, well, fungus, this is what we require to thrive.  

Living with flair means really seeing ourselves as a community and knowing why it matters.  We are part of each other. 

Finally, it took another person to reveal this beauty to me.  I would have never noticed these lady slipper orchids without her.  Living with flair means that when our neighbors don’t see it, we show them. 

_________________
Journal:  Do we really believe we are part of one another?

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