I don’t know about you, but my day is full of decision making. From the moment I wake up til the moment I go to sleep (and often while I’m trying to fall asleep) I’m making decisions.
Decisions for myself
- What should I wear?
- When should I exercise?
- What should I have for breakfast?
- What book should I read next?
Decisions for my children
- What should they be studying?
- Do they need more jobs?
- Do they need fewer jobs?
- What do I need to encourage them in?
Decisions for my business
- Should I hire an employee?
- Do we have too many goats and need to sell some?
- How do I make liquid soap on the scale that’s being demanded?
- Can the business afford this expansion?
Decisions for my family
- What should we have for dinner?
- Should we take a vacation this year?
- Is the family working too hard?
- Should we garden more or less this year?
Sometimes the decisions are easy and sometimes they aren’t.
Sometimes the decision making process comes quickly and sometimes I agonize over what to decide.
Sometimes I make the decision and move on and sometimes after the decision has been made I agonize over whether or not I made the right decision.
But regardless of how the decision making process goes, I always know that there soon will be more decisions for me to make.
Because I have so much going on in my life, I’m always trying to simplify. And reducing the number of decisions that need to be made daily is a great way to simplify. So whenever possible I “batch” my decision making. This means that I make the decisions for a certain topic all at once as opposed to everytime it comes up.
The easiest example I can think of is meal planning. Rather that having to decide at breakfast what to make, then at lunch what to make, then at dinner what to make, you can have a monthly meal plan. If you sit down for a few hours you can set up a meal plan for the entire year. You can set it up to include holiday meals, seasonal meals (e.g. more grilling outside in the summer), leftovers, and new meals to try.
And remember, that just because you have a monthly meal plan written out doesn’t mean you can’t change it. You can change it whenever you want. We keep it on excel so it is easily modified and reprinted if we have a new family favorite to add. But by having a monthly meal plan (which you can keep in your control journal), you don’t have to make a decision multiple times a day unless you decide to.
Another way to set up a meal plan that isn’t as restrictive is to just set up daily themes. E.g. Monday is pasta night. Tuesday is Mexican. Wednesday is chicken. Thursday is vegetarian. Friday is pizza. Saturday is leftovers. Sunday is eating out. This worked well for us for a number of years. There was still some decision making to be done, but not nearly as much.
Another great example of batch decision making is to take the time to set up routines. Having a routine takes out many of the small decisions that we are constantly facing. This is great, not only for you, but also for your children. For example, you can go about your morning routine and not have to make decisions. Should I make the bed first? When should I get dressed? When should I brush my teeth? Now? or after I eat? Instead you can create a routine and stick with it.
In our house everyone has a morning routine that has a core of similarity as well as individual differences. Whereas Emery’s morning routine looks like this:
- Wake up
- Make the bed
- Go to the bathroom
- Brush teeth
- Get dressed
- Clean up bedroom
- Clean up bathroom
- Milk the goats
Indigo’s starts the same way, but after “clean up bathroom” her morning routine is different.
On a side note, routines are different from having a schedule. We don’t stick to a schedule very well around here. We have way too much that unexpectedly crops up all the time. Our morning routine can start at 6 am on one day and 9 am on another. It can also vary for each child as to when they begin their routine.
So while we don’t have a schedule, we do have lots of routines. They make life a lot simpler.
Every day is different and comes with its unique decisions that need to be made for that day. But if you put some thought into it, you can sit down and batch some of the decisions you find yourself repeatedly making. The time spent is well worth it!
Do you have any other examples of some decisions that can be batched?