Decision Fatigue- That Make So Much Sense!


I got up at 6:30 this morning, even though it’s Scott’s morning to get Kendall to school. I did so willingly because this is the year of grown-up choices.

Oh yeah, I’m still on the January Cliche high.

I made breakfast. Again. Which is like, wow. I don’t even know who I am!

I’ve had a lot of coffee, but I can’t really say it’s working. The kids are all at school, and I want so badly to crawl back into bed for an hour. But this… writing this post… is one of my top 3 to-dos for the day.


See? It says so in my new planner. (Another top 3 is to clean the kitchen.) So I’m going to get those 3 things done before I reward myself with anything. Really.

||OMG, y’all. I have been looking at this planner all morning. And I just now- at 10:30 am, realized I planned today on yesterday’s page! I am chronically flakey. ||

I read this thing about Decision Fatigue late last year, and it really spoke to me. I am SO that person who shuts down when faced with too many choices. My God, the Cheesecake Factory is torture.

And when I tell my husband, “Seriously, you pick the restaurant. Just. For. Once.” I MEAN IT. On Valentines Days of past, I’ve been known to get super agitated at the fact that I am always the one who does the choosing of the place to eat. On this one day of the year, please show your love to me by not making me make a decision. 

The idea behind decision fatigue, from my understanding, is that even the smallest, repetitive decisions can exhaust you throughout the day. So, they suggest a couple things.

1. Limit your choices.

2. Do important things early in the day, before all the decisions exhaust you.

On the doing things early in the day part- I KNOW that’s what I have to do. It’s a very hard thing for a not-morning person to commit to. But, if I’m honest with myself, I realize that I am not just physically exhausted by 3 pm lately, but I’m mentally drained, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a round of productivity after 6 pm.

Is this what getting old is like? Because even 30 year old me could get a solid 3 hours of work in after bedtime, but 33 year old me is not having any of that nonsense.

Anyway, I woke up early this morning in an effort to conserve mental energy later in the day. Jury’s still out on that one.

The easier of the two for me will be the first- limiting choices. 

I’ve always known that clearing clutter from the house makes me feel better. I enjoy nearly monthly purges of our closets and the playroom. We donate A LOT to the local women and children’s shelter. So I’m actually excited to implement this in everything from what I wear to what we eat.

I’m not a fashionista, but I have enjoyed experimenting with clothes more over the last year. I don’t think I’ll go so far as to create a capsule wardrobe, but I’m going to focus on limiting my choices hanging in the closet to ones I truly love and actually wear. Like, at this moment. Not in the future when my waist is smaller.

I think where I feel the most decision fatigue, by far, is when it comes to food choices. I might be feeling this to the max right now because of this Whole 30 thing I’m doing, but I also enjoy the fact that this makes me make decisions ahead of time.

We’re experimenting with foods and getting back to healthy basics, and the whole family seems to mostly be enjoying it.

I’ve tried so many approaches to food in the past, and the more gourmet and complicated, the worse our family responds. I hate all the dirty dishes and time spent making food nobody else appreciates, and the kids are really tired of me trying to get them to eat exotic meals every night.

It’s not that I’m opposed to trying new things! I think I just need to respect all of our limits more.

So at some point before the Whole 30 is over, I’m going to try to write out 30 or so dinner ideas that are crowd pleasers (which I’m sure will include a lot of Whole 30 hits). And that’s going to be what we work from for the year.

We may deviate from time to time, but that base of 30 go-to meals should be enough to create some peace about feeding people in this house.

It’s seriously been so stressful in the past. I find we put off dinner until nearly bedtime because we just… don’t know what to do. It’s like I WANT to prolong the witching hour? Dumb.

We’ll still budget days and money to go out to eat, but I’d also like to focus on keeping those choices simple, too, for days we’re not feeling adventurous.

We love stopping in at Subway for healthy sandwiches and salads, so that’s an easy choice for us anytime. Even for me.

So, tell me, if you were to simplify your life and limit your choices, how would you go about it? Have you done this? I really want to hear from people who this has worked for long-term!

It seems like this is one resolution that should be easy to keep – do LESS, not more in the new year.

Thanks to Subway for sponsoring this post about grown-up choices!


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  1. I plan all my meals for the week on the weekend. Once you figure out the meals that “most” of your family will eat, make the grocery list and go right to the store. Get it all done Sat or Sunday and then you don’t have to decide what’s for dinner every day…you already have it figure out. I can’t say I love the planning part, but i’m so glad when it’s over. Make a binder of your recipes for easy access or just pin them.

      • You should try the Paprika app!! Oh how I love it. If I find a recipe I like, it downloads all the info from the website and creates a recipe card from it. I needed something that was ridiculously easy and quick to use from my phone which didn’t involve me scrolling through the hundreds of “oh that looks good, I should try it one day” pins I have 😉 plus when you have a recipe up, your phone/iPad stays on so you don’t have to keep turning back on your phone while you’re in the middle of cooking.

  2. I always grocery shop on Sunday’s so I make a meal plan before I go to the store. I keep in mind our cooking habits as well as any nighttime activities. I always plan for Sunday-Thursday with 1-2 meals that could be carried forward (i.e. frozen veggies or meat and stuff from the pantry). I have gotten into some routines that I do weekly or every other week but I always try to change up a few meals as well. I look through my pinterest for new ideas, my recipe blog where I put things I have tried and like for easy reference, and sometimes even cookbooks. I have tried the ones where meal plans get sent to you weekly, but they just never appeal to our tastes enough. We grill on Sunday night 99% of the time and I usually make raw fresh meat items earlier in the week. Here are some examples of my menu’s but keep in mind this was YEARS ago and I only had one young child who was still eating purees. Our menu has changed some, but it kind of gives you an idea. Planning my menu for the week for the most part has made coming home from work and getting dinner on the table a breeze!…/label/Weekly%20Menu

      • As a full time working mom, shopping on the weekend is my only option. But you should go when it works for you. My biggest piece of advice is to make a meal plan for however many days you want to cover before you go to the store again. It is definitely nice to only have to tackle a meal plan once a week as well as shop once a week, but that doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. 🙂 Start small with baby steps and plan for maybe 2-3 days at a time if it would better suite you, but definitely don’t go to the store without a plan of some sort! 🙂

  3. A Day in Mollywood on

    I honestly think that a lot of my problems could be solved if I would just wake up earlier and get shit done before the kids wake up. But oh man, the mornings. BTW, my shiny new planner has exactly zero plans written down in it 😉

  4. Laura Garwood on

    This is SO me. Right down to the putting off dinner until the last minute simply because I don’t know what to make. I have tried to make a meal plan to avoid having to make a decision on what to make that evening, and I will love it, and it goes great for the first two weeks and then I get lazy. I so needed this post. I really need to remember to limit my choices and not pile too many things on my plate for each day.

  5. What happened to The Fresh 20? I know some of their stuff is fancy, but my kids also liked quite a few of the recipes.

    • As much as *I* liked their meals, it was hit or miss every single night for the rest of the family. I’m tired of dinner being a struggle.

  6. OMG grownup choices are the worst!!! I often feel fatigued because my dear husband hates cooking and making decisions even more than I do so I’m constantly trying to think of what to make and then doing it and then doing clean up – somehow I got the short end of the feed the family stick. We often eat late because of this, so I’m happy? to see that we’re not the only ones.

  7. Rachel Mitchell on

    Ugh, little daily decisions are the worst. Unfortunately, I married a man with the same problem. A discussion about what’s for dinner can last hours… Unless we just let the 3 year old decide, which happens much more often than is healthy for any of us.

  8. I feel you! Thinking about what to feed the crew every day 3 times a day is SO EXHAUSTING. I think just that could be a full time job, seriously. It’s not helping that I’m by myself running the wedding photography business and homeschooling lol
    When hubby is not around I REALLY simplify meals. Left-overs. Cut up veggies and cheese for lunch? Sure. Breakfast of goat cheese and crackers? Whatever. A whole pot of soup that lasts a week? Brilliant. 🙂

  9. Pinnacle Animal Hospital on

    I really like this idea and I think I’m going to have to do something similar to it. I love the idea of having a stock 30 or so meals you pull from. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Stephanie Yeomans on

    I really like this idea and I think I’m going to have to do something similar to it. I love the idea of having a stock 30 or so meals you pull from. Thanks for the tip!

  11. Hi, Jill! I’m doing my third Whole30 this month so I know what you’re going through. I recently posted links to my 25 favorite weeknight dinners and top 20 CrockPot meals. I’ve been meal planning for about three years now so all of them have been made many times! Also, a lot of them can be made Whole30 compliant (by bypassing the rice and gluten-free rice pasta, for instance). Hope you find something you like!

    Top 25 Weeknight Dinners:

    Top 20 CrockPot Meals:

  12. I used to struggle with this alot…..the closer I get to 40 the more decisive and productive I am becoming! I find #2 on your list makes a big difference in my days.

    I decided that I didn’t like the way I was living. I needed to be more efficient, and more productive. I worked on finding ways that work for me. I make lists, have learned to say no, & work on projects in 5min increments during the day (ok, maybe in 2 minute blocks!) I have also learned to not beat myself up when I have a crappy day and accomplish nothing……like today. Tomorrow is a new day and I can start over….with a list 🙂

    I watch all my nieces & nephew during the day (four under three years.) So my days are a little crazy but my evenings are quiet. I clean & organize as we move through the day so that at nap time (Everyone takes a 2hr nap AT THE SAME TIME!) I can be really productive! I do most of my computer work during that time frame so that I can spend my evenings working out, going out to dinner, running errands, or like tonight not doing a damn thing!!

    It’s a day to day process of learning new habits but it has been worth it. 2014 was one of the best years I have ever had. (Those darn adult choices do actually work 😉

    Sorry…..I just realized how long my “comment” is….opps 🙂

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