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Hitting Home

Do away with a bevy of boring daily tasks

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I recently read an article about a thing called a "capsule wardrobe." A capsule wardrobe is, in short, the practice of populating your closet with many of the exact same outfit. That way, when you go to the closet to decide what to wear, the decision is already done. The idea is to save time and energy by eliminating one decision early in the day. Several famous and powerful people adhere to this philosophy, including a few CEO's and former President Obama.

The whole idea is, to me, pure genius. In the case of powerful people with crushing responsibilities, it makes sense that having one less decision to make every day-no matter how trivial - is a good thing. I would think that for many of those types of people, once they decide to untether from one decision, they would follow with more: same breakfast every day, maybe the same lunch, same route to work. Eliminate the trivial to allow the mind to focus on any of the two-thousand actually important decisions in the day.

For me, something like that would be a simple issue of efficiency: given that I typically run 3-5 minutes behind schedule, any time saved staring at clothes is time recovered. And, come on, it's not like the careful selection of a wardrobe has any chance of improving my overall fashion profile, so...

But, there's a larger lesson to be drawn from such a simple thing. People have studied the behavior of judges, and concluded that most judges - whether municipal, criminal, or appeals - have distinct patterns of behavior in their decisions that track with the numbers of hours they've been on the bench on any given day.

Is it possible that the epidemic of fatigue that we all keep hearing about is more than anything an extended version of decision fatigue? Could we be making our lives that much harder simply by placing ourselves in more and more situations in which we have to make decisions?

Do I like this? Or should I hold the button longer to make a laughing emoji? Retweet? Or just react? Do I want the Venti, or the Grande? With a cookie, or a pastry? And should I listen to my latest playlist while eating that, or just hit the Pandora?

And, man there is just never anything on any of the 584 television channels available to me.

The modern America we live in is a place of great wonders. The level of technology we possess, the ubiquity of that technology, and the wide specialization of our interests which, inevitably, find someone willing to service them ... we've come a long way from the days of Atari, 5 television channels, and transistor radios.

But, with all those choices comes an exponential increase in the number of decisions we all make on a daily basis. If you're feeling worn out by the end of the day, even if you feel like you didn't really do much, think back and consider how many decisions you made during the day, no matter how trivial. And then, wherever possible, replace the decision process with some sort of simple routine that takes some of the thought out of your day.

Sure, that may limit your creativity. But what would you rather expend your creative juices picking a belt and shoe combination? Or solving actual, important problems?

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com

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