Lessons learned from packing up my house, Part 3-All these choices…..are draining me.

Lessons learned from packing up my house, Part 3-All these choices…..are draining me.

I packed up and moved house again last week. We’d been staying at a friend’s house all summer while they traveled and it was great! Sadly for us (and maybe sadly for them) they had to return home and we needed a new place to lay our heads, eat and get clean. We lucked out and found a cute house to rent near our construction project home. It’s a small place with 2 bedrooms and one bath- we’ll all be sharing very close quarters for the next many months. As I packed up the minimum of things we didn’t store away and then dug through storage deciding what we’d need to survive in our new temporary house, I was reminded of an ongoing challenge I face each week as we create our dream home: Decision Fatigue.

I experience brain fog each week from making so many decisions. It started as I was clearing and packing the house last month. I discovered I had pretty specific limits in a day. I’d hit decision fatigue after 4 hours of packing. Constantly asking myself, “Am I going to need this? Should I keep this? Am I going to be excited to unpack this? If I don’t keep it, can I donate it or give it away? Who would want this if it can’t go to a thrift store?” would exhaust my brain. And when the brain fog descended, I’d move slower and not complete anything. I realized that I lose the ability to choose. I’d find myself staring at an object for awhile and realize the cogs weren’t turning. 

Decision fatigue is the deterioration in the quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It was a term first coined by Dr. Roy F. Baumeister in 2011.

For me, the reality is that I’m just just getting started with decisions when it comes to the remodel. I’ve made some major choices about flooring and cabinetry and layout but I still have 100+ more decisions to make about tile and paint and baseboards and lighting….and …. and…..the list goes on. In order to survive this challenge, I’m developing ways to recharge and reset from decision fatigue so I can go at it again. 
Here’s what I’ve found to keep the decision fatigue from turning to brain fog: 

  • Pace myself. When heading out to look at lighting or tile, I try to focus on one room or section of the remodel at a time. 
  • Variety is necessary. Planning different activities into my day so that I’m not making too many decisions at once. After selecting paint colors, I should have a client session, or meet with colleagues for lunch.
  • Getting plenty of sleep and regular exercise also allows me to make more decisions in a day before hitting the fog.

Once the fog has descended and I can’t just go to bed, here’s a few things that recharge me enough to get through the rest of the day:

  • Getting outside for a walk or just to sit and listen to the birds and wind in the trees.
  • Snuggling with my cats.
  • Doing “mindless” activities like washing the dishes or scanning papers

I’m sure I’ll still get lost in some serious fog through this whole process, my techniques will not always work and sometimes I’ll have to push through and make one more decision in a day. And I’m also hoping that by being aware and taking proactive steps in advance I can keep myself from getting too lost for too long.