I’m at a stage of my life where my daily schedule requires a lot of decision making and mental energy.
Between Everyday Reading and Savvy Reading, I’m making decisions, learning new things, and juggling a thousand things every single day.
And being a parent to four little humans means there are a lot of variables in my life as well.
So I’m always looking for ways to decrease my decision fatigue and make some parts of my life run on auto pilot.
Here are some of the auto pilot examples from my life:
6 Choices I’ve Put on Auto Pilot
- Eating the same breakfast every morning. I already make so many food related decisions every day (what’s for snack, what am I making for dinner, is this salsa going to be too spicy for some of my children?) that where I can reduce decision fatigue, I’m definitely going to. Eating the same breakfast for me works really well – I have this egg and veggie scramble pretty much every single morning and have for the past nearly five years. Someone asked recently if I didn’t get bored of eating the same thing and for me, the freedom from decision fatigue FAR outweighs my need for variety (plus, I have more variety for lunch and dinner, so it’s no biggie for me to eat the same delicious breakfast every morning).
- Working out six mornings a week. It’s taken me most of my adult life to get into a good workout routine, but once I decided that I’d work out every morning (and I didn’t have tiny babies and toddlers waking me up in the night all the time), it’s been much easier to not have to decide every morning, “Will I work out today? Should I do it tomorrow instead?”
- Water is my beverage. I decided long ago that I didn’t want to spend money or calories on beverages (it helps that I really love water and soda and juice aren’t that exciting for me). When we go to a restaurant, I always know I’m going to order water. At home, I only drink water and it’s the very rare occasion that I drink something other than water.
- Eating dinner at home. Neither Bart nor I grew up in families where we ate out a lot – eating dinner at home as a family was always the default. And we’ve chosen to do the same for our family. I make dinner most nights, but if I got busy or don’t feel like making dinner, we still eat dinner at home. It might be something super simple like cold cereal or yogurt and granola or toast and scrambled eggs but the default is eating at home, not going out or ordering takeout.
- Washing my face every night. I’ve joked before that the idea of going to bed with my makeup on feels as terrible to me as getting into bed with my shoes on. I NEVER don’t wash my face – it’s as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth before bed and I never spend any mental energy consciously deciding to do it (it also helps to do it earlier in the evening, rather than right before bed when I’m much more exhausted and it feels like a way harder chore).
- Having a standard bedtime. I remember about five years ago thinking, “I’m going to struggle with getting to bed on time for the rest of my life.” I was resigned to this reality but happily, it’s now something I struggle with much less. One great thing has been choosing the bedtime that works for me (10:30 so that I can get 8 hours of sleep and get up at 6:30) and then working around that time. Bart and I both know this is the target time so we get ready for bed early enough to accommodate this time, if we’re watching a show, we turn it off in time for 10:30, and it’s just a normal part of our routine. It’s such a mental load of to not have to decide every night when I’m going to go to bed. And the great news is that the longer I’ve done this, the more my body and brain is just set for a 10:30 bedtime, so I fall asleep much more easily and know exactly when I need to start winding down.
Of course, none of these are 100% set in stone. Vacations, illness, and events change things up – I didn’t work out for a week last month because I was fighting off a cold and felt like an extra hour of sleep was way more important than trying to force myself through a workout.
When I was in Las Vegas over Memorial Day with my sister Merrick, we stayed up until 2 a.m. chatting.
These auto-pilot decisions are intended to make my life easier, not make it miserable or completely inflexible.
And the auto-pilot decisions that work for me might be a horrible fit for your life. Taking your own schedule, life circumstances and personality are key for making decisions about your own life. These work for me during this stage of my life and I know that things might change down the road and I’ll adjust accordingly.
I’d love to hear what auto-pilot decisions you have in your life – what things do you do routinely without having to decide every time?
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