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Does Picking Out Cheese at Trader Joe's Feel Complicated?

I remember feeling so relieved when I first learned about the concept of decision fatigue. It wasn’t just me that struggled at the end of the day to pick out cheese at Trader Joe’s. I’d stand there frozen, watching all of the other happy shoppers push their carts through the aisles loading up their purchases. I used to wonder how they could do all the work of tuning out the loud music, tolerating the bumping carts, someone reaching in front of them to grab their item - all while making decisions about what to purchase. I’ve taken some time to explore decision fatigue in my own life. Just becoming aware of it and when it happens has been incredibly helpful.

I’ve learned to pay attention to body sensations and what is happening in my thoughts. For example, when choosing between a block of sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda starts to reach the levels of feeling like a life changing event, I know I’m in the zone of decision fatigue. I pause, take a breath, and carefully reach out my hand for whatever feels right in that moment. Nothing to see here folks, I’m choosing my cheese and moving on.

Another strategy I’ve found to be effective is to think about what decisions I can make ahead of time. We don’t always have the luxury of that in life, but if we do, it’s a great opportunity to reduce in-the-moment decisions. If I have to go to the store for several items, I think through what I need ahead of time and make a list. If I have an important meeting and need to uplevel what I wear the next day, I will go to my closet, pull the outfit together and hang it right inside the door, accessories and all.

Not only can making some decisions ahead of time free up your working memory for other tasks, it can reduce anxiety and give you more clarity and focus for the decisions that do unexpectedly pop up.

What might it look like for you to find one or two ways to reduce in-the-moment decisions?

Feeling overwhelmed by all of the decisions you have to make? I’d be happy to talk with you and brainstorm some strategies!

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