Posted on December 13, 2012
Here is an excerpt from a recent Vanity Fair interview with President Barack Obama: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
Our world has an obsession with choices. Everyday tasks like buying a box of cereal for the family can be quite overwhelming with an aisle full different brands that are all grabbing for your attention. No wonder why shopping can be so mentally draining. It is scientifically proven that the more choices that we have in a decision-making process the longer it takes to make that decision. We also may get to a point during the process where we get overwhelmed to a degree that we choose to not choose.
Worrying about all these small choices can affect our decision making when it comes to the harder ones, which is why I am a fan of Obama’s thought process on decision making, as well as I’m a fan of living the lifestyle of a minimalist.
I had originally heard about minimalism when watching the Today show where Dave Bruno was discussing the “100 Thing Challenge”. The challenge is self-explanatory in that the goal is to remove clutter in your life until you are left with 100 essential items. Initially, I wanted to go towards that goal, but soon discovered that counting and keeping up with those items can be stressful. Having to sit down and decide what constitutes as a single item, makes the 100 Thing Challenge somewhat of a chore and I hate chores.
Instead, I went through my life inventory and discarded any and everything I haven’t used in the past year. Afterwards I had six to seven large bags of clothes, shoes, books and other things that I donated to charity. Almost immediately, I felt a weight being lifted. Cleaning out the space in my room simultaneously cleaned out the clutter in my head. I’m able to think more and I don’t spend as much time getting ready for the day. One of the things that I was worried about the most was losing my sense of style because I would have fewer clothes to wear. What if people noticed that I wore the same jeans yesterday?
I discovered that no one cares. It is nice to know that people are not waking up worrying about what I’m going to wear today. It also allows me to focus on curating the perfect wardrobe rather than having an assortment of clothes that I would never wear. Here are some other benefits that I found:
Cleanliness | Now that I don’t have as many things to clean or move around, the house by default has become a lot cleaner.
Productivity | The time that I would spend cleaning my room or trying to find items in my jungle of the room has decreased, which means I can focus on the more important tasks.
More Money | I think twice about buying things now. If I don’t see myself using it in the next two years, I won’t buy it.
Less Stress | I can’t really pin point what makes life less stressful, but it is.
I encourage everyone to take the “Less Decisions Challenge” by removing things out of your life that you don’t use. All of those sentimental items that you have in your closet only matter in your mind. Get rid of the junk and live simple.