Would you believe we make on average 35,000 decisions every day? From deciding what to wear in the morning to what to cook for dinner in the evening, our days are crammed full of choices we need to make. Throw a home renovation project into the mix, and the number of decisions we need to make rapidly multiplies, leaving us feeling completely overwhelmed. Here are six tips on how to simplify the decision-making process and avoid decision fatigue.
Social media has opened up a world of inspiration for home improvement projects. It’s easy to lose a couple of hours surfing, pinning and collecting beautiful images. But too much choice can hinder our decision-making ability and result in decision fatigue. Inspiration gathering sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz, while an excellent source of information, can leave you with too much choice pretty quickly.
Instead of continually gathering images try to review your boards and idea books regularly and eliminate anything that is no longer relevant. Try to identify themes in the pictures you’re collecting, and if possible whittle them down to one key or hero image for each area of space, you’re revamping.
Find a trusted advisor, this might be your spouse or partner, your architect or designer, or a family member or close friend. Have someone you can run ideas past who you trust and can constructively challenge your thinking. Don’t go looking for too many opinions. Just like having too many decisions to make, too many viewpoints will leave you feeling completely confused.
Once a decision has been made, be prepared to move on. The worst thing you can do is to start second-guessing and changing your mind.
Have a schedule for when key, or important decisions need to be made and plan well in advance. There is nothing more stressful than having to make important decisions under pressure. This is a recipe for making mistakes and spending more than you’d budgeted for. Ask your contractor for a program of works before the project starts and to identify when critical decisions will need to be made. By sticking to this you’ll always be one step ahead.
You don’t need to make absolutely every decision. Certain things are best left to the professionals. By getting involved in these decisions, you end up micromanaging and exhausting your decision-making ability. Prioritise the important decisions that only you can have the final say on then focus on these. By all means, give your input but trust the people you have hired to do the job.
Believe it or not, our instinctive reaction to anything is a more accurate prediction of our emotions than logical thinking is. In other words over deliberation can lead to poor choices and going with your gut is always the best bet.
One study offered a group of volunteers a choice between a reproduction of an impressionist painting and a poster of a cartoon cat. The group was split into two, and the first half asked to think logically about why they might like or dislike each of the posters before making their choice. The second half was asked to make a quick decision based on their gut reaction. When researchers followed up later with each of the volunteers, those who had thought logically before making their selection were the least satisfied with their choice. Instead of choosing the picture that made them feel happiest, they had ignored their gut reaction and made a decision based on how they thought others would perceive the picture in their homes.
The part of our brain that makes these gut decisions doesn’t use language, so it can be hard to articulate why we like or dislike one thing, but it shouldn’t be ignored.
Not all decisions have to be made immediately. Prioritise what work needs to be done and, if the budget doesn’t allow everything to be done in one go, carry out parts of the project in stages.
When establishing a plan of work, it’s essential to think about the future. It can be easy to design your home in a way that works for small children, for example, but pretty quickly you’ll find yourself with a houseful of teenagers, and your completely open-plan layout might not work so well.
Rushing to have everything finished quickly can often lead to hasty purchases you may regret. You could end up spending too much money on an item you later dislike but feel you can’t ditch because of how much it cost. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to find the perfect mirror for your hall or the right lamp for your living room, but it’s far better to wait until you stumble upon it than merely buy something to fill the gap.
Have you experienced any signs of decision fatigue? Please share your stories and advice in the Comments section.