I used to see pictures of Steve Jobs and wonder why he wore the same thing every day: a black mock turtleneck, jeans, and sneakers, when he had more money than God.
It seemed to me that anyone with that much money should have a different outfit for every single day of the week. Maybe throw in several daily clothing changes: one for the morning, one for after lunch (maybe with a stretch band sewn in), and one for the evening plus something comfy/cozy for bedtime.
And then donate his used clothes the next day. Why not?
I was never a clothes horse nor a fashionista but I did enjoy putting an outfit together that made me feel good about myself. I especially enjoyed this after losing weight (again! and again! and hopefully again!).
So I did not understand Jobs and his lackluster choices…
…until I started wearing the same thing every day myself.
Initially, it started as a joke. I wanted to see if my husband would notice that I was wearing the same clothes every day, and if he did notice, at what day would he comment? How many days would I wear the same thing before he said anything?
The idea came to me when I felt like I wasn’t getting enough attention from him. To prove my theory, I devised my foolproof plan. I started wearing the same outfit regardless of the weather: a long, black skirt, a teal top, black sandals, and matching teal earrings.
I specifically chose a top that a normal person would remember from one day to the next–it wasn’t just a nondescript white or a deep black, it was a very specific blue/green with 3/4 sleeves and a boat neckline similar in style to this shirt.
The days passed quickly and quietly without so much as a peep.
I didn’t want him to fail, per se, but fail he did. After 10 days of wearing the same clothes, I gave up. He won, I lost. Or I won because my perception proved correct, and I lost because he wasn’t paying attention to me–the confirmation was in the cotton.
My point was proven but with it came baggage in its revelation.
From the ashes of the sadness, though, I had an epiphany.
As the mistress of silver linings, I was able to see the positives of my negative outcome: wearing the same damn thing every day (like a uniform) made my life a tad easier even though I wasn’t professionally employed. No more pulling a thousand outfits out of the closet, only to reject them all. No more stressing over which top matched which pants. No more pawing through my jewelry to see what would work with the clothes. No wondering which shoes completed the ensemble. No more decisions about dressing myself period.
It was like the Garanimals for adults I’ve always wanted, but one better.
It was so easy. No brain power expended, less anxiety, and less time wasted putting together something suitable for the day.
My outfit for each of those 10 days was pre-selected. Everything matched. My only challenge was making sure it was clean for each wearing.
The surprising outcome of my homemade experiment and personal success, made me want to dig a little deeper to discover why Steve Jobs and others like him wear the same thing every day.
I conducted research via an online college library, and found that entrepreneurs wear the same clothes each day helps because it helps combat ‘decision fatigue.’
Humans are said to make up to 35,000 decisions per day–everything from what to eat for breakfast to the best way to get to work. Stairs or the elevator? Do I hold the door for the person behind me? Should I make vacation plans today? Where do I want to go, etc., etc., etc!
The theory is that as the day progresses, and as more and more decisions are made, the less likely you are to make great decisions for the important things in life.
Scary, right? Especially for successful entrepreneurs whose very livelihoods depend on making the best business decisions.
Turns out there are some simple ways to avoid decision fatigue. One is to create routines for the small daily stuff like meals and outfits. Another way is to delegate less critical decisions to someone else, and the final way is to take frequent breaks throughout the day.
Once established, a routine is a decision.
Examples of routines include opting to wear the same clothes each day, eating the same breakfast, and spending one’s yearly summer vacation at the same familiar cabin. With these lower level selections made, your brain can focus on larger problems to solve and generate more creative ideas because it’s not bogged down in the day-to-day tasks that aren’t important.
Reduce decision fatigue by letting others decide for you.
Now, hang on, I don’t mean for the important stuff, but for things like meals, activities, meditations, or an exercise routine.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the choices about what to make for dinner, I go to a trusted meal-planning site like The Fresh 20 and decide that whatever TF20 is telling me what’s for dinner for the week, that’s what we’re eating. I don’t question it, I just shop.
For a list of family activities, I may come up with a routine associated with the days of the week. An example is every Friday is family movie night with NetFlix and homemade popcorn. Or maybe every Saturday is a hike. Perhaps every Sunday is a picnic at the beach or at a park. Even though the activity may not be formally defined, there’s an outline and from there, the decision is slightly easier.
When I first joined the app called Headspace, the first 10 meditations were selected for me. I didn’t have to stress over which meditation was right for my experience level. That came after my ‘graduation,’ but even then, from the Headspace menu, I can decide if it’s stress, anxiety, self-esteem, or loneliness that’s bothering me more. Once a selection is made, oftentimes, there are between 10-30 sessions, so a course like anxiety can take up to a month to complete!
If you’re like me and don’t care which exercise routine you do, you just need to do one daily, I highly recommend subscribing to BeachBody on Demand. I am not a coach and I will not receive any compensation for my promotion of BeachBody, I just love that so many programs are available for a minimal cost. To reduce decision fatigue, begin the 80 Day Obsession and you don’t have to think about your exercise routine again in 80 days! I have recently been told that BeachBody is rolling out a 100 day workout plan in early January 2020. Weehaw! It could be months before another workout decision would need to be made
Gimme a break
A break is always a welcome reprieve from the constant noise of everyday life. Although most people believe in ‘powering through’ their day, research has found that people who take breaks (legit breaks, not the kind that involve Facebook or Twitter), have more focus, generate more creative ideas, and make better decisions.
Some decisions like where to work, which car to buy, and whether now is a good time to purchase a home should be made with the most care and consideration. Finding ways in which to reduce decision fatigue is a must for all people from all walks of life.
Even though wearing the same outfit every day might not seem as sexy as what I prescribed for people like Steve Jobs, it is beneficial for maintaining one’s sanity and avoiding decision fatigue.
Prior to this experiment, I wore a new outfit every day. After this experiment, I sometimes wear the same clothes two or three times per week.
What started as a joke/experiment has become a part of my routine.
Turns out the joke was on me!