Decision fatigue.

When I was going through training for the exams last year, our director of training gave us a teaching session about decision fatigue.  I’d never heard of it before, but it’s a studied theory that suggests that the more decisions you make in a day, the more the quality of your decisions suffer.  There was a seminal study of high court judges that found if in court all day, with no break, their decisions became harder and more unjust by the end of the day.  If given a lunch break (heaven forbid!) their decisions remained more balanced.

Steve Jobs is the oft-raised example, wearing his signature black skivvy and jeans combination, simply so he would not have to decide what to wear every day.

Women have come to accept the ‘what will I wear today’ battle as if it’s normal.  The more organised of us will pick out an outfit and lay it out, but even that’s a battle of decisions, just at a different time of day.  And some days it’s a complete experiment and by mid-morning you feel uncomfortable and sometimes fat.  Some days you nail it.  Some days you feel like you picked out all your clothes in the dark, from the bottom of your wardrobe and want to hide away from everyone for fear they might notice you’re a massive battler.

In the last couple of months I’ve done an experiment on myself with this, because my life, my job, is so demanding.  On a work day I’m up at 6, trying to get dressed, trying to get my toddler dressed and fed, trying to get her to daycare on time, and then trying to get myself on time.  I cannot have the added luxury of mixing and matching and trying on outfits, but nor do I want to not dress well.  In Juanity Phillip’s A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life, she describes wearing the exact same pants and top combination to work, having gone and bought a variation of colours of the same top, and the same set of black pants.  The book is an interesting insight into the at-times disturbing struggle of a mother trying to work-full time and progress her career while bringing up multiple kids.  It is a vignette (I think) in what an unsupportive workplace looks like – if they’d had any heart at all they would have let her work a bit less because it is such a stressful read full of too many sacrifices, even if at the time it was supposed to be championing ‘having it all’.  (Hot tip:  There is no having it all because no one, not even men, ever did).

As usual, I digress.  I found even the idea of tops and pants too decision fatigue-ing so I bought dresses.  I bought long sleeved dresses that were a bit gathered from the waist down (I hate wearing tight or fitted skirts or dresses and if you have to suddenly do CPR on a patient – not a good look).  So my work uniform is now a dress, tights, and flats, although now that it’s winter, it’s now ankle boots.  I only have dresses that I’m comfortable wearing (translation:  look good wearing) so that I don’t need to try them on in the morning, I pull it out of the cupboard, throw on the tights and shoes, and done.  They’re all different because I need the variation.

Hair and makeup gets done in the exact same style, no experimenting (I can do that on the weekend) but if I’m feeling a bit shabby, big fake diamond earrings tidy it up a bit.

I feel like I’ve Marie Kondo’ed my morning routine and it truly is life changing.  I haven’t compromised my personal style (if anything, it’s a lot more pulled together), and when I get to work, I’m not frazzled.  Starting the day stressed is the worst and I don’t recommend it.

I’m still working on how to do this to the rest of my day, but I feel like the whole “I have no nothing to wear” shitfight is somewhat oppressive and by removing it from our day, it frees us up to focus on other things.  Of course if you have the time, and actually enjoy playing around in your clothes on a daily basis, please disregard, but for those who find it a grind, I hope this was helpful!

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One comment

  1. love this!

    I never read the Juanita book because I knew it would make me very sad. Her marriage ended you know. Sad.

    I choose everything the night before which is boring but I have to because I am like a cartoon character running about in the morning it is so rushed.

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