Choosing less doesn't mean not choosing

When I first started choosing less, I hoped it would reduce the number of choices I would have to make.

It did, to a point.

Choosing less can't mean not choosing. Not making any choices isn’t realistic or practical.

Instead, I’ve found that choosing some things now helps me choose less in the future.

One way I try to do this is planning my calendar for the upcoming week the Friday before.

For example, tomorrow, I have a long workday and have to prepare for a weekend trip. The day, in summary, is: a workout, breakfast, shaving, writing, prepping for and attending a client meeting, lunch, 4 hours of paid work at my part-time job, dinner, pre-making some food for next week, and packing for the weekend trip.

That’s a lot!

But I chose that schedule last Friday. I chose what I wanted to accomplish and when I wanted to get it done, and now, I know I can do it.

Try it for yourself. It might help you better understand what you can get done in the day, and what you might have choose to do another day.

Here’s another choice we all make every day: what to wear in the morning.

We all know about Mark Zuckerberg and his daily grey T-shirt: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.” 

But did you know Obama did something similar while POTUS?: “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.”

If a CEO or a president can do better by choosing less with their clothes, then I recommend it to everyone else. Consider preparing your week's clothes the weekend before so that you don’t have to think about it in the cold, dark morning. This planning might even buy you a few precious minutes of sleep!

Throughout this series, almost all of my recommendations will be about choosing something. You can't not choose in life.

But intentional and thoughtful advance choices can help you reduce reactionary or rushed choices. Instead, you can approach every day knowing you have chosen things and opportunities you value.

This post is adapted from a weekday newsletter I wrote in April 2018, Choose Less.