Adopt a “Minimal Choice” Lifestyle

eric eating lunchThis is another Tim Ferris habit that I’ve practiced for years. Here’s the lowdown…

We live in a society where there are almost a limitless number of choices. For example, if I want to pick up yogurt at the local grocery store, I see a refrigerator section that is no less than 25 feet long with every type of yogurt imaginable making every possible claim for benefit, each container screaming for my attention. If I were to really consider my options for yogurt buying, I would be in the grocery store for hours.

Some resources are renewable, but other resources, like attention, aren’t. The incredible number of available choices and options we have consume our attention, minimize our appreciation and leave us overwhelmed.

So my habits to combat this are:

  1. Minimize my need to make choices
  2. Make fast decisions

Does it matter that I make a wrong choice? If the result is non-fatal, then no, it doesn’t really matter.

So for example to minimize my need to make choices, I always have a bowl of cereal and a coffee for breakfast and a peanut butter and banana or a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch. I don’t need to waste my attention thinking about what I’m going to eat. Dinner is the important meal for me and I cook a great meal every single night of the week. I’ll throw my attention into that meal that I eat with my son or friends.

As an example of making fast decisions: The person who books my hotels and flights spends ages comparing locations, prices, amenities, etc. It would probably take me about 1/10th of the time to do it myself. In Canada, I have only two airlines to choose from and they’re pretty much the same. Two equally priced hotels are really not going to be that different. I’m not going to take a half hour to read about their amenities and look at the pictures. I’ll rather spend that half hour lounging by the pool when I get there.

So here are several exercises you can try this week to get you into the habit of preserving your attention in the face of options:

1. When someone asks you to make a decision that is non-life threatening, for example, where to eat or where to meet, stop debating in your head. Make a decision immediately. And by immediately, I mean immediately. Just say the first thing that comes into your head. Get the decision made within ten seconds. If the person drags you into a choice game, pass off the choice responsibility to them. You don’t need to play their game.

Your friend asks, “Where do you want to meet for coffee?”

You say within seconds, “We’ll meet at Aroma Cafe, the one near Eglinton Avenue. Does 2 pm work for you?”

Your friend says, “I’m bringing Johnny to speech therapy around 1 o’clock, so I’m not sure that will work. Maybe we should meet in the morning or maybe later in the day.”

You pass off the choice responsibility by saying, “No problem. Figure out a time that works for you and send me a text by this evening. I’ll make myself available.”

You’re done. You’ve saved yourself and your friend 15 minutes of needless negotiation and you can move onto more meaningful conversation or activities.

2. If you get an email that requires action that you can do in less than two minutes, decide what needs to be done and do it immediately. Don’t go onto the next email and come back to it later, don’t mark it for follow up, just take care of it and get it out of the way.

3. Plan your meals at the beginning of the week and make sure you have groceries on hand to make them. Or do like I do and eat exactly the same thing for “non-critical”, non-social meals.

Are there ways you save your attention by minimizing choices? Do you have a food plan you want to share for the week. Post your comments below or on the Facebook group.