Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Happy 2/22/22! Pretty cool, right? Today we have a teacher work day which means meetings, meetings, meetings! Sigh.
Have you heard of decision fatigue?
According to the American Medical Association, it is “the idea that after making many decisions, your ability to make more and more decisions over the course of a day becomes worse“
Do you know how many decisions that we, as humans, make in any given day? It’s insane! It’s exhausting! And, we are all just.so.tired.of.everything right now!
I used to get kinda mad when I would ask Tom what he wanted for dinner and he would basically say in a fairly nice way that he just didn’t want to be asked. He was telling me that anything was fine and he just couldn’t make another decision. Now I appreciate that he really doesn’t care. Sometimes I will give him two choices like I used to do with my kids. Two choices is easier than an infinity of choices! Moms that meal plan and post the meals on a board in the kitchen – this is why you do that, right? It’s one less decision to make at the end of a long day.
Here is what I have done over the last several years to help improve my decision fatigue:
First, let’s talk about my job as a teacher. I read that teachers make an insane amount of decisions in a school day (I’m sure there are lots of decisions to be made in any given occupation, but teaching is the one I know best, so forgive me!). Teachers have lesson planning, how to best approach different standards in your subject or grade, how to respond to that email from a student or parent, how to handle a request to leave the classroom, how to deal with a certain behavior, what to assign for homework, when to schedule that test, and the list goes on…
Several years ago, I decided to create a routine that would help me and my students. Every Monday we get a new list of vocabulary and every Friday we quiz over that vocabulary. Every Thursday we play a game with the vocabulary. Every Wednesday we incorporate music into the lesson. I have had students tell me they love knowing what to expect and that they love this structure. I take this one step further in my AP class. Our AP Spanish exam is based on four skills so we do reading skills on Monday, listening on Tuesday, writing on Wednesday, speaking on Thursday, and then tie up loose ends on Friday and review the week. This is also the exact order of the actual exam.
I got to thinking…why am I just doing this at work? What can I automate in my person life? I highly recommend The Lazy Genius by the way. There is a podcast, her website, and her books, by the way. One of her principles is “Decide Once”. Every Friday night is pizza. Everyone gets a new swimsuit in their Easter basket. Make a decision one time and then it is done. It makes a lot of sense to me.
A former blogger, Mel Larson, who is also a teacher and who you can follow on Instagram now, decreases decision fatigue in her wardrobe by having a weekly clothing routine. She always wears black pants on Mondays because the weekend is over, she wears another type of pant on Tuesdays, etc.
I have often thought about a dinner routine like this: Sundays for leftovers or soup, Mondays are for pasta, Tuesdays are for Mexican, etc.
Here are some of my routines:
-I do meal prep. I make all my breakfasts for the school week on Sundays. I also make my share of lunches (I split lunch prep with my co-worker) on Sundays most of the time. Done.
-I take my shower every night after dinner is cleaned up.
-I order my groceries every Wednesday or Thursday for a Wednesday or Thursday pick up. I go into the weekend with a stocked kitchen and my weekend isn’t just about running errands.
-I do my laundry once a week when my hamper gets full. I do the household sheets and towels once a week separately. I usually try to do this on Thursday so that my weekend isn’t spent doing laundry. Tom does his own laundry and J and M do theirs at college or when they come home. This also keeps the washer and dryer free for them on the weekends if they need it.
Now, obviously my routines will look different from yours. You have to do what makes sense in your life and at this stage. My routines looked very different when I had infant, toddler, elementary twins, worked full time, etc. My routines changed in the summers when I was home with them. You can periodically ask yourself if you systems are still working for you and adjust as needed.
Am I doing this perfectly now? No! There are many more things I could automate to decrease my decision fatigue. I am a work in progress.
And, can you break from these routines? Of course! Do not become so rigidly tied to them that you miss out on opportunities, but let them work for you to make your life easier!
Don’t you hate it when you finally have a chance to go out to eat and you and your husband have the age old “where should we go?” conversation?
Use your phone memo!
Here are some ideas of the lists I keep:
You always have your phone with you! I also take screenshots when I see new restaurants pop up in my social media feed. I try to remember to transfer them to my memo list.
What do you do to eliminate decision fatigue in your life?
I may post your tips if that is ok with you! Leave me a tip in the comments and I will assume it’s ok to post unless you tell me otherwise!