Thursday, March 17, 2016

Attention Issues, Decision Paralysis and Grocery Shopping, Oh My!



As an adult with attention issues I tend to do some things with startling efficiency and speed. While doing other things at a snail's pace until feeling overwhelmed enough not to finish, enter grocery shopping. I have always been bad at grocery shopping, even with planning (by making a list, budgeting, etc.) I get overwhelmed and confused at the store. This usually leads to me filling the cart full of junk just so I can leave. 

Then I discovered a TedTalk by Barry Schwartz who is an professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. Listening to him describe how more options tend to perplex and paralyze us rather than improve decision making made a ton of sense to me. This man knew why it takes me 10 mins to pick out a bottle of ranch dressing! Better yet, there was a name for this struggle, decision paralysis! I knew what I needed to do to improve my shopping, find a store with fewer choices.

So I began my search for a grocery store that has all the necessities but fewer brand choices per product. Trader Joe's bubbled up to the top of my list quickly. The pluses are that there tend to be only a few choices per product and it's 3/4 of a mile from our house.

After a month of once per week shopping trips, I noticed that I feel less anxious while planning a trip to the grocery store. I also spend less time shopping because I'm not standing in front of 20 different brands of ranch while overstimulated and confused. Another bonus, I don't make as many impulse buys just to fill the cart and get out of dodge. My decision making has become more efficient and of a higher quality.

I'm starting to look for new areas in which I can reduce instances of overwhelm. My next task is to reduce the amount of time I spend getting dressed in the morning. I want to create a few "uniforms" that I can just throw on when I'm feeling the squeeze of decision paralysis.

What is one thing you can do to reduce your decision paralysis?
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Image via lapetitefabriquedereves

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