Six Ways to Work Through Decision Fatigue
I knew that there would be many decisions that went into a new house. That would have been the case for a renovation as well (which we considered early on in our search). I enjoy getting to make all the decisions and I love that our choices will make our home “us” when we move in without having a huge DIY list at the beginning (actually, we’ll still have one of those, but it will be more homestead related than house related). But decision fatigue is a real thing! It is exhausting. And it’s worse when you are making the decisions with someone else (especially if that someone else usually disagrees with you). Here are a few of the things we have done to maintain our sanity in all of this.
- Give yourself time to think alone. One of the strategies I used in one of my previous management jobs was to let my team members know what I wanted to talk about in a couple of days. “Let’s come together on Thursday to discuss Topic A.” I did this with creative topics such as new projects being implemented, but I also did it for the tough conversations. Giving them time to come up with their own ideas and opinions created a more productive meeting. It also helped the more introverted team members voice their opinions. For the tough conversations, it gave people time to work through their inner defensiveness and be open to change. We’ve been trying the same concept with our house building decisions. We decide when we’d like to talk about something, give ourselves a few days to research on our own, then we bring our ideas together. A few times, we’ve ended our research at the same conclusion and it makes it super easy!
- Take a time-out. A few times we have come together to talk and we’ve been so completely opposite that coming to a compromise just wasn’t possible. When that happens, we take a time out. Come back at a later time. Do more research. See if you can come up with more ideas that might be more of a middle ground.
- Take a sabbatical. If taking a time-out still leaves you with a spinning head, take more time off. And truly take the time off. Don’t think about it/dwell on it/obsess over it. Think about something else. Give your mind and emotions a break. You’ll be more level headed when you eventually come back to it.
- Compromise is key. How cliché can I get? But really, pick a few things that you really want to see be a certain way and be okay with other things looking a little different. There aren’t winners and losers here. In the end, your house will be amazing, no matter what trim style you end up choosing! We couldn’t find a way to compromise on our cabinets because it was such a big item (and it resulted in something beautiful!), but we have found ways to compromise on other things. He picked the interior doors, and I picked the stain color. He insisted on fancy wiring upgrades, I insisted on fancy bathroom outlets. As long as we can come to an agreement on the bigger things (like siding color and flooring), we can each compromise on some of the smaller things.
- Function over form. Remember that function should win out over form if it comes down to it. I have had to remind myself and my husband of this already several times and it has helped us make the decision between two things. Form trends change. Take marble for example. Marble countertops and floors are currently super on trend and easy to find. Even though these things may be beautiful now, are they functional enough to warrant the form? For marble, the answer (for us) was no! Marble takes upkeep. And despite the fact that we both loved the look of marble floors, we knew we would not do the upkeep necessary to maintain them. The function does not outweigh the form. We decided that porcelain or ceramic was a much better option and could still give us the look of a natural variegated stone with no maintenance. Choosing function over form helps you look past what’s just pretty and really analyze what purpose it serves.
- Spread it out. Space out your decisions as much as possible. This is easier on a custom build or a semi-custom build and a little trickier when you are building a production home. The benefit of production homes is that you have fewer choices to have to make and the cost savings is awesome because they are able to source everything in bulk. The layout is mostly set and you just need to choose if you want to upgrade certain finishes or add bump-out options. Do you want an extra two feet in the family room for $5000? Do you want natural stone countertops for $7500? Do you want standard or ADA toilets? What color would you like the walls painted? What color hardware would you like throughout the house? Custom and semi-custom is bit more labor intensive and you have so many more choices. No matter which way you are doing it, spread out your decisions to give yourself more time to think. Even if you only have a few days to make all the decisions, you can spread them out over those few days and think about them one at a time. This will help you focus on the function and have focused time to research each choice. I used our Building Binder (more to come on that later!) to help jot down random ideas that came into my head for each decision if it wasn’t the one we were working on at the present time. (Writing it down can often help you let it go out of your brain!) Then when the time came to think about that item, I could focus on it.
Decision fatigue is real. Don’t let yourself become grumpy and irritable over the style of door handles in the hallway or the placement of a light switch in the kitchen. Try these 6 things to help reduce your decision fatigue and find more enjoyment in your home-building process.