Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: Micro-Decisions

During April, I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z challenge -- one alphabet-themed post per day, starting with A is for Aruba Aftermath and ending with Z is for ... I don't know yet what Z is for, I'll figure it out when I get there.

Too many choices, about things that aren't really important, are exhausting. (image from here)

Yesterday, in doing a roundup of my favorite posts from my first couple of years writing Life Afloat, I was reminded about the topic of wasting energy on decisions that ultimately make no difference in the grand scheme of things.  I called these "micro-decisions," and my examples were about too many varieties of mustard, and too many different coffee mugs in the cabinet, are detailed in a post called Plenty.*  Decisions take work and sap mental energy.

Now the concept of saving mental energy by limiting choices seems to be sweeping the Internet. It's the consistent theme of the Project333 clothing challenge, and of course armies have been telling their soldiers exactly what to wear for hundreds of years.  My own experiment with restricting myself to 33 items of clothing for 3 months was fun and insight-producing, but several recent articles have detailed people who have chosen to restrict their sartorial range is even more drastically.  My favorite of these is The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Every Day; similar takes on the idea are here and here.  A less successful experiment, by a woman who wore the same outfit every day, serves as a way to fine-tune the uniform thesis.  Instead of a forgettable fade into the background look such as blue jeans and a black tee shirt, her outfit was beautiful, and memorable, which is what led to her problems.  The same would be true of mustard -- if you're only going to have one, make it a pleasant and subtle, not overly dramatic, flavor.  (The same idea -- that if you're only going to have one "x," make it unremarkable so it fits as many situations as possible -- is not, however, true of coffee mugs.  If I'm only going to have one ... I want it to be the biggest and best insulated thing I can wrap my hand around!)

So, this whole idea of living better by having fewer choices about unimportant stuff? It's a natural and mandatory side-effect of living on a boat.  We just don't have the space to make it otherwise!

* "Plenty" was first written for the newspaper April 12, 2010, and copied to this blog as an archive almost a year later when the newspaper changed their web format and old stories would otherwise be lost.  So, hey!  I had the idea first and I can prove it!* (Insert silly face icon here; I'm not really the first to have had this idea.)

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