having less choices
Simplify Your Self

Overcome Overwhelm … Cut Down the Choices

I’m a child of the seventies and eighties, which means that we only had three choices for TV channels growing up.  THREE!  My kids still think I’m lying when I talk about it.  Yes, kiddos, on Friday nights we literally had the choice of Dukes of Hazard or whatever the heck those other two channels were showing.  I have no idea what it was, because I was too busy crushing on Luke Duke.

We didn’t know the difference so we didn’t mind not having an endless list of TV viewing options.  If we didn’t want to watch what was on, we just turned off the TV and read a book.  Crazy … I know.

I thought of this the other night when we were scrolling through the channel guide (we seriously have over 200 channels) and couldn’t find anything to watch.  It was overwhelming.  Too many choices did not make us happier, in fact … it made us MORE frustrated and stressed.

I’ve noticed this with restaurants too.  One of our favorite places to eat is a Mexican food place in Fort Worth and if you go after a certain time of day, they give you two choices as a meal.  TWO!  That’s it.  You will either have the cheese enchiladas or you will have the fajitas.  No other options and no substitutions.  The first time we went it was a little strange, but now I totally understand it and they do those two things so well that the people lined up to the door waiting for a table obviously don’t mind it either.

On the other hand, we’ve been to restaurants before who had menus that rivaled War and Peace in thickness and we spent waaaaaaaaaaay too long reading it and deciding and redeciding what we wanted to eat.  It didn’t make the experience any better at all.  It made it hectic and overwhelming.

So why do we still give ourselves so many choices? Click To Tweet

Here’s a few areas where you can cut down your choices to overcome overwhelm ….


I can’t even begin to tell you how many ridiculous discussions/arguments my husband and I have had over where to eat when we decide to go out or what to have for dinner.  It was such a waste of time and energy.  Since we’ve adopted a simplified way of living we just give ourselves fewer choices.  We list two (sometimes three) restaurants we either know we like or want to try and we ONLY pick from those options.  When we’re at home making dinner we only give ourselves two (maybe three) choices.  That’s it.  We don’t argue or debate it, that’s just how it is and it’s so much easier now to really enjoy a meal.

What to Wear

We all wear clothes on pretty much a daily basis so making the decision on what to wear comes up often, but standing in front of your closet staring into the abyss of options doesn’t have to be a time waster.  Just pull out two (or three) outfits and give yourself just a few seconds to decide.  Do the same thing with your kids.  Do NOT ever ask them “what do you want to wear?” without first setting out just a few choices.  Even better, set aside five outfits for the school/work week and only choose from those until you’ve worn them all during the week.

Movies/Books/Podcasts/TV shows

I have a stack of unread books in the cabinet in my bedroom.  I looooooooooove reading.  It’s my escape from the world.  But I don’t even look at the entire stack at once.  I simply grab a few choices when it’s time to pick something new, throw them on the bed, look at them a few seconds, then pick.  No debate or mental discussion with myself.  Obviously they’re already something I want to read if I bought it so I don’t need to reread the descriptions.  I just need to pick one and start reading.

I also have a list of podcast episodes on my phone.  It works the same way.  I look at the list and pick from the first few I see.  I subscribe to the channels of the podcasters I like (like Oprah, Jen Hatmaker, and Clutter Free Academy) so the new episodes show up in my Saved Episodes list and I don’t have to do anything other than pick one to listen to.  Ta-Da!


Simplifying your choices by cutting them down works for pretty much everything … vacation locations, what to do on your days off, what car to buy, what to name your baby, etc., etc.

You just have to get in the habit of narrowing down your options and not being distracted by the things you probably weren’t going to pick anyway.

Try it.  It really does work to help overcome your overwhelm.

For more on the subject, read this.   The Happiness-Choice Paradox


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