Monday, September 25

The Quad: Eliminating stress by combating decision fatigue


Wearing the same outfit may help eliminate stress in the mornings. (Michelle Lin/Daily Bruin)

Wearing the same outfit may help eliminate stress in the mornings. (Michelle Lin/Daily Bruin)


Repeating an outfit two days in a row is commonly seen as a social faux pas. However, influential people like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama are known to have worn the same outfit everyday.

Decision fatigue, which describes the mentally draining effect that making many decisions has on us, is one of the primary reasons people engage in this behavior that some may find peculiar. The more decisions we make as the day goes on, the more incrementally difficult each decision becomes for our brains, negatively impacting our ability to take the best action. This can lead to either recklessness or simply avoiding making any choice at all. Thus, many busy people choose to cut down on how many decisions they make in a day by getting rid of the more trivial ones.

Obama cited this as a reason for almost always wearing a gray or blue suit, stating that he had too many other decisions to make. The late Steve Jobs always wore his trademark black turtleneck, jeans and New Balance shoes, and Mark Zuckerberg owns around 20 of the same gray T-shirt.

The idea of not wasting brain power on my first decision of the day appealed to me, so I decided to give this a shot. For a week, I wore a gray, long-sleeve shirt, dark jeans and baby blue Converse shoes.

I’m not sure if getting rid of this choice improved my other decisions throughout the day – although it’s also true that I didn’t get late-night food at all during this week. However, it definitely took some of the stress off of getting ready in the morning. It was a time-saving routine, and I found it comforting to wake up knowing that I had one less thing to worry about.

Toward the end of the week, I got a little sick of wearing the same thing every day. Sometimes I found myself planning an outfit, only to remember that this effort was unnecessary.

I couldn’t imagine wearing the same outfit every day in high school, since I saw the same people everyday, but it’s much more doable and less noticeable in college. I’d definitely recommend this to any college student as a life hack. Trust me – no one is going to notice. If someone does, they won’t judge but rather understand the struggle.

This also goes with the current trend of minimalism, as exemplified by the demand for tiny houses, an emphasis on decluttering and trending fashions. According to “The Minimalists,” minimalism is about finding freedom and happiness, making better decisions by focusing on what’s important and ridding yourself of excess, which aligns with the concept of decision fatigue.

Even though picking an outfit seems like a trivial decision, we live in a world in which we’re constantly inundated by decisions that we have to make, like enrolling in classes halfway through the quarter. Thus, deciding less could make a positive impact on our lives.

Although I won’t continue this for the rest of the quarter since I’ve missed wearing some of my favorite articles of clothing, I’m definitely motivated to try and cut down the number of decisions I make. However, I did buy the long-sleeves in a four-pack, so catch me in the same shirt during all of finals week.

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Michelle Lin is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She writes about everything, but especially likes lifestyle and informative pieces.


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