One Crazy Easy Way to Deal With Having Too Many Choices

by Michelle Acker on May 3, 2012

in Choose Wisely,Thought Provoking

Welcome to the new home of Thought Provoking Thursday!

 

Last week, for Thought Provoking Thursday, I wrote a fairly simple post, titled  ‘A Dirty Little Secret About Choices.’    Barely over 100 words, it visually illustrated the point that while having choices, options, and variety are good, if you have too many, it can paralyze you, making it difficult to make a decision.

Conversation, Comments, & Community

I promised to share my strategy for dealing with an overwhelming amount of choices, and I will in a moment.  First, however, I want to comment on the awesome response to last week’s post.  What I loved about last week’s post was while I was headed in one direction, the comments went in a whole other direction.  A very thought provoking direction, I might add.   It was such a beautiful sight to watch that conversation grow and flourish in the comment section. So much so, in fact, that I’m going to need to run another post just from the comments from last week. 🙂 One of the things I love best about blogging is that conversation and back and forth that happens after a post.  I learn just as much, or more, from my readers as I do from writing.  I’m blessed by you,  and I thank each of you for leaving a comment and being part of the community.

So, how to deal with too many choices?

It’s simple.  Reduce the number of choices you have.  I first learned this lesson from the parenting program Love & Logic.  Love and Logic is all about giving kids choices, but you give a limited amount of options, so the kid isn’t overwhelmed.  Two or three options is plenty.  (Parents make sure all the options are ones they approve, so no matter what the child answers, it’s all good.)

For example, in my house at the moment, we have available to drink:  Orange juice, water, tea, coffee, milk, soda (2 kinds), apple juice, chocolate milk, lemonade or limeade.   Can you see where that’s a little overwhelming?  As a Love and Logic mom, I only offer 2 or 3 of those choices at a given time, and the bonus is I get to steer them toward the healthier options.  ‘Would you like orange juice, white milk, or water?’

See?  Much easier to choose, right?

I’ve learned that the same concept applies to choices I make for myself.

On Instagram,  there are 18 different filters I can choose to adjust how my photo looks before I post it.  Add to that  a choice of frames and tilt shift, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed trying to decide what to use for each photo.  Simplify the decision making process by limiting choices.  I went to Instagram, and spent some time figuring out which two or three filters were my favorite.  Now, when I post a photo, I choose from those three filters only.  I skip the frames, and I only apply tilt shift if I’m trying to draw attention to something in the photo.    Suddenly, I’m not paralyzed to make a decision, because the amount of choices is manageable, not overwhelming.  Suddenly, I can post a photo in just a few seconds, rather than taking several minutes to go through all my options. I’m limiting my choices, but I’m not missing out on anything, because I am only choosing from my favorites.

I did a similar thing here on this blog.  I was spending a ridiculous amount of time formatting posts.  Not writing them.  That part was easy.  Just formatting.  Bold or not bold?  Heading 1 or 3?  Heading 2 or Heading 4 in bold?  Change the font color? Italics?  Ugh.  The choices were overwhelming, and I wasn’t getting posts up because it took 3 hours to sort through the choices.  So I stopped.  I picked my 2 favorite headings/fonts, and  2 colors.  And that’s it.   Now, it’s easy to format posts, because I’m only choosing from my favorite options.

Reduce The Number of Choices

You can apply this strategy anywhere you need to make the same choices frequently, and where the number of options are overwhelming.  Buying shampoo? Pick your 2 or 3 favorites, and ignore the rest. Plants and flowers for your garden… Magazines to read… Even toilet paper…  😉

Where can you limit choices to make life easier for yourself?

Something to think about….

 



{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Eryn {mamahall} May 3, 2012 at 5:52 AM

i didn’t know it but i do that! i subconsciously narrow down my choices and then i go with my gut. sometimes it’s so much simpler than we make it.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:04 AM

So true, Eryn! I’ve realized that life is almost always simpler than what I make it! 🙂

Tereasa May 3, 2012 at 6:27 AM

These are great ideas. I do it with my children. (Love, Love and Logic, btw) I can see how this would save time for me in some areas. I am a creature of habit. So when it comes to purchasing, I tend to make the same choices all the time. I guess I do this with list making, too. Most of my lists are made once and used again.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Great ideas! Reusing lists is definitely a sanity saver!

Sylvia R May 3, 2012 at 6:53 AM

Great wisdom! You’re encouraging me to do this more with my own choices!
— also to reflect on how God often blesses me by narrowing my number of choices.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Ooooh. Reflecting on how God blesses us by limiting our choices. I love that thought!

Tulip@True Aim May 3, 2012 at 7:17 AM

You were right, this is really easy. I will definitely try to use this strategy next time i’m in a dilemma about what kind of pancakes I should make, or what I should wear. It is so easy to stress about the little things. Thanks for hosting the link up and sharing your wisdom.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Thanks!! I hope it helps make life more enjoyable. 🙂

SomeGirl May 3, 2012 at 8:47 AM

I agree! This strategy has helped so much! And, thankfully, after last night’s growth group conversation, I now know which toilet paper to choose… White Cloud! 😉 lol

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:32 PM

🙂 You know I edited this post to add the TP after I saw your Instagram post, right? LOL.

SomeGirl May 4, 2012 at 8:57 AM

I had a feeling that’s what happened… lol

Cathy May 3, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Great idea! I get overwhelmed easily too. Life is so much more enjoyable when you simplify it with less choices.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:33 PM

“Life is so much more enjoyable when you simplify it with less choices.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Nikki May 3, 2012 at 11:37 AM

I am the epitome of indecisive. If I have more than 3 choices, there’s no way I can ever choose! And narrowing them down to 3 takes forever for me to do…

I think what I’m taking away from your wonderful post is to stick with my decision. Once I do narrow it down to my favorite formats, editing tools, etc… I need to claim it. Own my decision. Don’t look back. after all, these aren’t life and death things I’m dealing with..why waste more precious time fretting? 🙂 thank you!!

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Yes!! Make a choice and stick with it. Own it. I found that the first few days with this strategy left me second-guessing. But once I was used to the limited choices, I felt such relief, and the second-guessing started to fall away. Hope it works for you too, Nikki!

Sarah May 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Great post! I’m most indecisive at a restaurant. And the larger the menu, the harder it is for me to choose! Overwhelming. Once I pick something, I doubt my choice too. I’m the queen of maybe-I-should-have-ordered-the-chicken. So grateful for this reminder that it’s okay to limit our choices, especially in life’s more complicated seasons.

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Thank you, Sarah! Overwhelmed is my middle name. 😉 But seriously, did you see the comment above yours where Nikki talked about sticking with your choice and owning the decision? I’ve found it’s easier the more you do it.

Courtney May 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Love how you applied this to your blog. Great advice!

Michelle May 3, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Thank you, Courtney!

Laurie Collett May 3, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Great post! Simplifying and organizing can add precious moments to each day.
Love in Him,
Laurie

patsy May 5, 2012 at 4:49 AM

Great reminder! There are far too many choices available today! I need to purge my cabinet of stuff!

Lori May 5, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Great Idea!! I, also didn’t realize that I had started doing this in a few areas. Now that I have thought about it, I realize that it has made those areas a bit calmer. Now to move forward and work this into other areas of life. Keep up the great blog!!

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