Choice Clutter

A lot of our time is now spent trying to decide between dozens of choices. We no longer have the one store in town that has one type of sugar, one type of flour, and whatever fruit is in season. Instead there is a whole aisle for breakfast cereal.

grocery aisle

The main problem with all this choice is you don’t have the security of thinking you made the right choice. You worry that another choice was better.

To make decision making simpler, it’s helpful to know yourself. What values do you have? Do you want something least expensive? Do you need organic? Does design speak to you? Do you want to know where something was made?

What size and shape body do you have? What clothes and brands work best for your body? What colors work best for you? I don’t ever look for pastels or white because they don’t look good on me and I have to buy petite. I’ve limited my clothing choices a lot just by that.

When you are looking for a phone service, what is most important for you? For me it’s how good the signal is as many phones don’t even work inside my house. Other people go by phone choice, expense, or needing family plans.

Limiting the time you search will help you deal with choice paralysis.  And the time works best based on the importance of the decision to you. Deciding on a job should take longer than choosing a pair of shoes. Give yourself a couple days to sign up for the phone plan. And it might take you less than 10 seconds to pick out the pasta sauce.

Spending time in the toothpaste aisle looking for the "best" toothpaste can feel like a waste of time. Decide what you want – price, whitening, tarter control and then grab one. If you don’t like it, next time you can choose something different. Many of these choices we get stuck on don’t matter that much. So fretting over whether you made the right choice is nothing but an energy drain.

Even with big decisions you won’t know whether another way would have been better or not.

You do have the power and the insight to choose. You know yourself and your family better than any advertising agency, magazine editor or social media test.

What decision have you been putting off? What’s the most important aspect of that decision to evaluate?


Photo Credit: The Consumerist