When Limits Give You More

Get breakfast right and the rest of the day will go right with it.

Forget choice. Over the last five years, I’ve eaten porridge in the morning. It lets me focus on other things, rather than having to work out what to eat once I’ve woken up.

As for lunch, I’ve started eating soup each time (unless I’m out and about). The only meal I actively consider is dinner.

I want to set aside all the stuff that doesn’t truly need weighing up in my mind. You’ve seen the supermarket aisles. Hundreds of breakfast choices all competing for your attention. And that’s not even accounting for cooked breakfasts and breakfast bars and breakfast milkshakes! You’re given too much choice. You have to invest in making those decisions each time. It’s tiring and tiresome.

gnome (photo by Rob Swatski)

Aarrrgghh! The range of choice was just too much for the poor gnome (Rob Swatski CC BY-NC 2.0)

Wasting time and mental effort on breakfast doesn’t hold you in stead for such a good day. Save it for the more important stuff.

When I see David Cain and Robert Pozen talking about limiting choices, it comes as no surprise. The more important the situation, the more effort you should exert. For a university student, breakfast isn’t one of those things.

Don’t get me wrong, what you eat *is* important. When you limit your choice of breakfast and lunch, that doesn’t mean you pick any old food to commit to. Focus on a food you will enjoy regularly and that suits your dietary requirements for optimum health benefits. Time spent working on this is time you don’t need to spend afterwards, and it’ll save you time each meal thereafter too.

Practice this beyond food. Everything you do works on different levels of importance. The problem is that it’s hard to explicitly see those levels working. Everything needs your time and input, so your choices seem to blend in. Effort on small decisions may seem minimal, but it adds up and distracts you from more important actions.

When faced with a decision that you have to make regularly, stop for a moment and ask yourself if you can improve your circumstances. Food, clothes, belongings, venues, colour schemes, music…If you spend too much time figuring out what you’d like each and every day, spend some time figuring out how to stop that cycle.

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” – Barack Obama