The other day I decided to stop and buy some fruit. I decided to get it at Sprouts. I decided which parking place to use and which cart to grab. Out of the plethora of apple varieties, I decided on non-organic Fuji. I also decided to buy Bartlett pears, Yellow peaches, and Cherry tomatoes. On the way to the register, I decided to stop and check out a “buy one, get two free” promotion for Nut-Thins. Naturally they offered five flavors, so I decided on three. I decided which register line to stand in and, after watching the guy in front of me use his iPhone to pay, I decided to use Apple Pay on my watch rather than cash, credit card, or debit. Sprouts’ tag-line is “Every Meal is a Choice.” I’d say, every meal is a surplus of choices!
When you look at how many choices are involved in a simple trip to Sprouts, it’s no wonder our society is experiencing decision fatigue. Equal to the overwhelming quantity of decisions we’re faced with each day, there’s the fear of making the wrong choice. If there are only two types of apples, you have a 50/50 chance of choosing the best. When there are more than twenty choices, you might make the “wrong” choice twenty more times.
If, like me, you desire a peaceful and productive existence, how does decision overload impact your productivity? Here are some lessons from my Sprouts trip and six Timely Tips to increase your productivity.
TIMELY TIPS - to increase productivity
1. Prioritize. Fruit is what I needed. Deciding what I need before stepping into the store makes better use of my time than wandering the isles. When we don’t prioritize our tasks, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by a list of random things we need to do. We walk into our office, or have a day for home projects, but with so many choices we end up using our time on menial things instead of what’s most important. Keep a short, doable list of to-dos with your top priority clearly identified so you can jump right in when it’s time.
2. Block Time. From 4:15-5:15 PM is my errand time— Sprouts, bank, drop off donations, pick up mail, allergy shots, etc. By blocking time for specific tasks, you reduce the overwhelm of trying to decide when you’re going to accomplish things. Click HERE to download a free copy of the "My Ideal Week" form. Use it to outline your ideal week. Block time for the necessities and your priorities. Put them on your calendar and follow through with your predetermined use of time.
3. Create Boundaries. Might I have found a better sale price on some of the fruit if I had researched all the ads or gone from store to store? Perhaps, but for me the benefit wouldn’t outweigh the cost. Making those choices isn’t always easy. While writing this article, it was challenging to limit my time researching decision overload—so many interesting articles! Whether you’re online shopping or gathering info for a project, the internet offers never-ending choices. To be productive, we must choose a limited number of resources or create time boundaries for research.
4. Deadlines. We were down to our last few apples in the fridge making the shopping trip a must. When we have unlimited choice as to when to complete something, it often doesn’t get done. If a task or project is important, but has no deadline, impose one on it. One of mine is getting the last two years’ Christmas photo books done by this Christmas. Giving myself a deadline and blocking some time helped me get Christmas 2016 done. One more to go!
5. Routines. Even though there were 20+ options for apples, I didn’t look at every type before choosing mine. I went straight to the Fuji bin, checked the price, and loaded up the bag. That’s my routine. That’s not to say I’ll never try another variety, or that you should never step outside your established routines, but having some routines will save you time and brain energy for the more important decisions in life. For example, you might create a menu routine—Monday chicken, Tuesday Italian, Wednesday soup, etc. (click HERE for a free copy of the Meal Planner form). You might try a wardrobe routine—line up outfits in your closet to reduce the number of decisions you need to make while you’re getting ready each day.
6. Good Enough. In the apple display there were several undesirables (which surprised me since it’s apple season!). To search for a bag full of “perfect” ones would have taken awhile. As hard as it is for many of us to admit, perfect isn’t always best. I often struggle with spending way too much time trying to perfect my blogs. "Good enough" is a lesson for my productivity as well. I hope this blog has been "good enough" for you to glean some helpful tips!