Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of decisions that you have to make every day? What to wear, what to eat, the best way to work out. We are constantly faced with making choices. Making some small adjustments to reduce the number of decisions you have to make can free up time. Then you can concentrate on things that are really important and make life run more smoothly. In this post I’m going to give you some ideas how to do just that.
plan your meals
A good place to start is with decisions about what you eat, something which all of us do several times a day. In the world of frugal living this is a popular tactic used to save money. Not only will you reduce your food spending by meal planning, but it has an added benefit. You don’t have to make a decision at the end of the working day, when you’re tired, about what to have for dinner. Ahead of time you’ll make a healthier decision than one made in the moment. Choosing what to cook can be the hardest part about being responsible for meal preparation in your home. On the few occasions when I ask Mr Simple to cook dinner he always says that as long as he knows what he has to prepare that’s half the battle and he can just get on with it.
I picked up a really useful tip recently from Dawn on ‘The Minimal Mom’ which I know you will also love. When thinking about meal planning I expect that you’re imagining yourself poring over cookery books for hours on end trying to decide on the recipes you’re going to cook over the coming week. What you need to do is to create a master list of meals and use this to choose what you are going to eat. My list has about 60 meal ideas. This has made meal planning a much less onerous task and it only takes me about 15-20 minutes every couple of weeks to decide on our meals for the coming fortnight.
create a meal pattern
The next way to refine this process even further is to have a routine for what you eat when. My list of main meals list has two columns, one for regular meals and one for curry recipes. My mother used to tell me that when she was younger she only had to look at her plate of food every evening to know what day of the week it was. Whilst I wouldn’t want to have the same meal every Monday or every Friday, we have got into the habit of eating curry on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Mr Simple would eat curry every day, but I like to vary things a little bit. Over the past few months I have planned a vegetarian curry for Friday evenings, fish curry for Saturdays and on a Sunday we have the left overs with flat breads and maybe an extra vegetable side dish. This is another way that I reduce the decisions that I need to make about our meals. Whilst ‘curry’ covers a multitude of things, it still limits the choice and makes it easier to decide what we are going to have.
You may be thinking that this all sounds extremely boring, but you will find that 60 different meals is quite a lot. Also, as the months go on and different vegetables come into season you can expand the list of meals, maybe having a different list for each season of the year.
Create a Capsule wardrobe
An area in which you may be more familiar with the concept of limits is when it comes to clothes. The idea of the capsule or limited wardrobe has been popularised by people such as Courtney Carver. If you don’t fancy the idea of restricting the number of items in your wardrobe, perhaps you could choose only to wear certain colours. My life coach, Natalie Bacon, only wears neutrals.
I haven’t yet worked on this area in my life, but I have fallen into having a sort of uniform for work. Some days I have to dress smartly, whereas other times I just wear jeans. On the ‘smart’ days I have taken to wearing trousers in navy or blue, with a white t-shirt, navy or blue cardigan and then to liven things up I add a scarf. I have a choice of four scarves. For me that has become a sort of uniform and I don’t really have to think about much except the choice of scarf.
subscribe to an online exercise programme
Do you struggle with being motivated to do exercise as you can’t go out to classes anymore and can’t decide what to do? Perhaps before Covid you just got in the car, drove to the leisure centre, swam 30 lengths and came home. When lock down started last year I was doing a local Pilates class, but that closed. Although my teacher was doing Zoom classes I found them difficult to follow. For some inspiration I initially turned to YouTube. Perhaps you’ve tried this too and like me have been overwhelmed by the choice or wasted time each morning searching for a routine to do instead of getting on with exercising .
To reduce the choices that I have to make about what exercises to do I joined a Pilates programme. Jessica Valant’s site offers monthly plans where Monday to Friday she suggests routines to follow from her video library. Not only does this save me time deciding what to do, it also ensures that by the end of the week I have exercised all of my body, as she has a different focus each day e.g. Friday is leg day. The cost of this programme is about £110 per year and there are many other similar ones available e.g. the well-known Joe Wicks offers his programme at £90 per year. If you want some structure for your exercise routine and are prepared to pay someone else to make the decisions for you, have a search for some online programmes.
Create a cleaning rota
I used to be rather haphazard in my choice of what to clean, just focusing on what I thought needed attention in the moment. Now there’s no decision to make, I just follow my rota. For week day evenings I don’t even have to look at my rota any more as those tasks have become habits. Mondays I empty the kitchen bin and sweep and mop the kitchen floor, Tuesday is dusting day, Wednesday is when the vacuuming gets done, Thursdays I clean the bathroom vanity unit and the mirrors in the house and on Friday I clean the kitchen sink and the hob.
Obviously there are a lot more cleaning jobs than these, but they go on my rota for the weekend. As I know what I am doing when, at least for Mondays to Fridays, there’s no time wasted deciding what needs cleaning. If I have a spare twenty minutes during my lunch break on a Tuesday I often grab a duster and polish and dash round the house, which frees up some of my evening for other tasks. Having a set routine means that you can almost be on autopilot and I don’t even think about it. Just follow your rota and almost magically the house stays clean, with not too much effort.
You may be thinking that all this is too restrictive, but remember you can always choose to go back to how things were before if you don’t find them useful. You can also make changes as the seasons change – you’ll probably want to for clothes and for food. If life is busy why not consider implementing some of these ideas. I promise you life will run more smoothly when you reduce the amount of decisions that you have to make every day.
Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).