One of the most common obstacles people encounter when they go to declutter their homes or get organised is Decision Fatigue. Symptoms can include overwhelm, frustration, guilt, brain fog, procrastination, a sense that it is all too hard, and so much more.
Pushing through when we feel fatigued will take us to burnout. At which point we can no longer continue. We want to ensure we notice when we are reaching a point of decision fatigue and set ourselves up to overcome and prevent it from getting worse.
Have you ever had a day where even deciding what flavour tea to drink was a burden? I have. That moment where someone asks "What's for dinner?" and you just want to fall apart, break down and cry because it all seems too much.
Every day we are making hundreds of micro decisions. Should I get up or hit snooze? Half flush or full flush? Does the kettle need more water before I boil it? Blog post or dishwasher first? Is this clean enough to wear again? What needs washing most? And that's all in the first ten minutes of waking up. And so it continues... No wonder that within an hour or two we start to find it harder to make choices. Add in something more intense, like decluttering, and without a grounded guide it is no wonder so many give up or burn out.
So, what can we do to overcome (and prevent) decision fatigue?
1. Have Support.
2. Notice Successes
3. Develop Clear Criteria
Let's explore them each in more depth.
Too often we think we need to do this alone. I don't know where or why the concept of being independent stuck, and while we do need to embrace a level of self-reliance and independence in our lives; if we look at the journey of fulfillment there are more steps and they include developing interdependence and utilising co-regulation. We are not meant to operate in isolation, we are designed to be members of a community, supporting, encouraging, and helping one another.
Step 1 to overcoming decision fatigue is ensuring you have support. When I have big decisions to make I always brainstorm them with someone else. You'll see on my profile at the moment I'm sharing my A or B graphics, this is because I need support, I need external input.
Some people are internally driven, while others need external reflection to think. I'm an external processor through and through, and for far too many years I was told that was wrong. Now I embrace it. And I talk through my ideas with people who are able to reflect and help me find my own answers.
We all, even those of us seen as "Experts" need support. I know so many questions, I have all the criteria, the processes are embedded into a course I wrote, and still, on a big day, with hard choices, I call an accountability buddy and we chat through and she supports me to make the chocies.
One of the most common thing that my support team does for me is remind me of my progress. One of the things we do as humans is we incorporate what is, and forget what was. It's easy to spot the things we still don't have working. Our minds are programmed to look for danger, difference, and details. This is how we survive. And back in the day when we lived in caves and a blade of grass moving meant that there could be a predator about to pounce it was helpful and those who responded by taking action were kept alive more than those who were not.
However, now, we don't live in an every day world filled with lions and tigers and bears. The dirty sock won't kill us, and yet for so many of us that is how our body reacts. Firing off all the chemicals that are designed for our survival. We respond to the difference, the out of place, as danger, and our defense mechanisms kick in. Some of us are more prone to this than others, we amplified these protection mechanisms in our childhoods to keep us safe. Some of us have mental wiring that makes us more sensitive to these things.
When left to its natural focus, our brain will keep pointing out what is wrong, and never notice where we have made progress. When all we see is what is not working we feel even more burdened and our mind is less able to make decisions, and we are more prone to decision fatigue.
When instead we start to focus on the successes, on the progress we have made, on the decisions we make easily and effortlessly (and there are some, we are making hundreds a day, most are unconscious), when we notice these, we start to remind ourselves that we can do this. This can be a massive turning point in our approach to any goal, including creating a home we love.
As we notice the choices you make easily you'll find that many of them are premade and many are easy because the criteria are pre-determined. Rubbish or Recycling is not usually a hard choice because we have clear criteria. To keep or not to keep can start to be more difficult because our criteria are so often flawed or missing a key component.
Remember that "What kind of Tea?" question from earlier - I have criteria to answer this. I drink my tea (as well as many other self-care rituals) based on where I am in my menstrual and energetic cycles. Today for instance I am in Deep Luteal - so it's something calming that is required. I'm inspired and motivated, so it's something that aligns with that. Which means Spiced Apple, Cinnamon, and Camomile. Now I know many people make this even simpler and only have one kind of hot beverage they drink consistently, which works as a solution too.
When it comes to decluttering there are 7 key criteria we use to make the choices of whether to keep or not, these are the ways in which we J.U.S.T.I.F.Y our decisions. 3 of these will support us to create a home we love, 3 will hold us back and keep us trapped under the mountain of stuff, and 1 could go either way.
These decision-making criteria and other models are shared and unpacked in detail in the Spring Reboot Challenge. Most people know about "Joy", others are more drawn to the is it "Useful" focus, very few are looking to the one that really matters when it comes to creating a space we love, and this is "Space". These three critiera support us (when used concurrently). Then we have the three that are most likely holding us back; Time, Identity, & Finances. The last criteria are Your Preferences, Patterns, & Profiles. 31 of which I share in the challenge for you to deepen your self-awareness, understand your needs, and create a unique approach to decluttering just for you.
So, once again, the three keys to overcoming decision fatigue: Support, Successes, & Criteria. Our relationship with these three keys are determined by our Patterns and Preferences. If you want to discover more about your patterns, and preferences to develop your unique criteria for decisions, surrounded by a supportive community, as you celebrate your successes then join us in the Spring Reboot Challenge here: