Decision fatigue is such a literally exhausting problem for moms and teachers, but if we can spend more time to “decidie once” then we can free up our own mental stress and time.

Decide Once and Done Transcript

I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, but teachers make more minute by minute decisions than a brain surgeon does in the middle of surgery. 

And if you didn’t know that, well now you do.

I even saw that one article said teachers make up to 1500 decisions a school day, and that alone sounds exhausting.

We’ve talked a lot in previous episodes about the phrase decision fatigue, and it’s a real thing. Every time you have to make a decision, your brain has to put all of this power and energy into quickly analyzing and assessing the situation and trying to come up with the best result for you. And maybe also just the result that you want. 

But we still can go home at the end of the day, and the first thing that we’re going to hear is, “What’s for dinner?” 

That’s always been something that’s kind of been a pain point for me, specifically the “what’s for dinner” question, but also just all of the different choices and decisions we have to make in the day.

I’ve been listening to the Lazy Genius Podcast. First of all, I also have a problem. I love to binge podcasts from the beginning, and Kendra will put out way more episodes than I can possibly listen to by the time I catch up to all like 500 or something ridiculous that she has. But they are good episodes. They’re very interesting. And I started following along in her Facebook group

One of the things that she has really helped promote and push through her Lazy Genius Podcast is something that I think all teachers need to start adopting, especially at the beginning of the school year where we are now. I literally go back to school tomorrow with students, and so I am all about the quick, simple choices, that will just take one more thing off of my plate, one less thing to decide, one less thing to think about. 

Decide Once

Our simple step today is that when it’s a recurring choice, you’re going to decide once.

It sounds really ominous, but really all it is are things that we are always deciding over and over again. 

Teachers are really good at deciding once on a lot of different situations when it comes to students, and when it comes to things like consequences, and what the outcome of certain actions are going to be. 

We create that in a syllabus. It’s laid out, we follow it, we only want to have to think of it once. We want everybody on an even playing field when we make those types of decisions. 

Staff Lunches

But like staff meeting days, when you have the option to go out for lunch with your department, and there’s always the one person in that department that starts texting everybody around like nine in the morning trying to figure out what you’re going to do three hours later for lunch. Because you know, it’s going to take three hours to get everybody in the department on the same page. 

Well, what if we decided once. And maybe it’s not even a department decision. Maybe you just decide once that you are going to always go treat yourself to McAllister, I don’t know, every single teacher workday? Well, then you don’t have to make that decision next time.

It could have been a recurring decision, a recurring choice that you’d have to make, but you’ve already decided once every time the situation arises, this is the outcome. 

Like I said, when it comes to school, I feel like we have a really good handle on these decide once sort of things. And it might vary department by department or what classes and what grade levels you teach. 

For me something that is a decide once, was lab prep. This year, I decided once that my students are going to be the ones to do all of their lab prep. I am not going to do it this year. And I am still very proud of that. I think this is the third episode I’ve mentioned it in. 

But when we set up routines, we’ve already set up these decide once things. And if you need help setting up classroom routines, go back to Episode Six. That is going to give you a really great idea of how you can create routines from the beginning for your classroom. 

But I feel like in general, at school, we have a great handle on this. We make so many decisions at school that we’re in that mindset. And then like I said, we come home, and the first question is, “What’s for dinner?” 

Meal Planning

Now your decide once could be that you’ve already created a meal plan for it. And I actually really love this idea of a meal matrix that I’ve come across where each day is a theme and you just kind of move through the different possible meals that you know how to make in that theme. 

So Tuesday, Taco Tuesday, super easy decided once that we were always going to have tacos/taco salad/enchiladas on Tuesdays. And that was it. 

Never ever had to make a decision again about Tuesday dinner. Well, you can do that for Fridays, too. You can do that for Thursdays. You can set a theme for every day of the week. Or you can assign a person to every day of the week on what’s for dinner.

This can also happen with going out to eat. Instead of making a decision every time you try to take your family out to eat, what if you just set up a rotation, and then you just follow the progression of the rotation of restaurants, or the rotation of people who get to decide. It doesn’t always have to fall on your shoulders. 

Gift Giving

Another really great one is gift giving. Have you ever had to go to like four weekends worth of little kids birthday parties in a row? Because that’s kind of my life right now. And gift giving for that age group can be really difficult. 

But what if we always decided that they were going to get a craft from Michaels? What if I just stocked my gift closet with crafts from Michaels, and then my daughter gets to pick out which one she wants to give to that specific friend. 

As they get older, maybe it’s books, maybe it’s puzzles, but I can just decide once what the theme of the year is going to be for those gifts, buy a whole bunch of them, and then just go shopping from that closet. And it’s all the same category of things. It just might alter, depending on the person that I’m giving it to. 

Potluck Dishes

Also potluck dishes. How many times have you been invited to a potluck, and then you’re like, “oh, man, I just don’t know what I should bring?” No! Specialize in something, and that’s just what you always sign up for. 

Maybe you always bring brownies to the potluck because brownies come from a box and they’re so easy. You mix like some chopped up Oreos in there, or some Andes mints, and it’s fancy. That’s all you have to do. And you’ve decided once every time I’m invited to a potluck, I’m bringing this dessert. 

What to Wear

Another great one that I’ve personally been trying to test out is a uniform where I decide once what I’m going to wear each day of the week, every single day of the week, I have an idea of what I’m going to wear. Now it’s not super specific. Like it’s not saying oh, you’re going to wear this specific tank to up with these shoes. 

But on Mondays, I’m going to wear a dress or a skirt. That really narrows down my closet. I’ve decided I’m going to go fancy on Mondays to set the tone for the week. 

And then on Tuesdays, I’m going with a cardigan and slacks and flats. I already know it. It’s just decided once and I will follow through with that. 

The rest of the week…yes, it’s just t-shirts and jeans, but I’ve already decided what the general uniform for those days are going to be on. 

I mean, when we were home with the pandemic, how nice was it? Knowing that leggings, oversized T shirts and sweatshirts that was all you needed? Well it can be again, if you just make the decision that that’s your weekend uniform, decide once, and then it’s all done. 

Now, this obviously does not cover the full range of one time decision opportunities that you have within your week, or month, or day, whatever it might be. But I hope it opens your eyes to some things that we can cut down on. 

Pool Snacks

A few things that I’ve seen posted were things like pool snacks. What is one thing that you can always pack for a pool snack, and it’s just the pool snack the go-to?

Special Breakfast

What’s your special day’s breakfast? My mom made these pancakes with sprinkles in them for every holiday. And it became a tradition almost, unofficially, because she just decided one time that was going to be our special breakfast. 

Larger Decisions

This doesn’t even just have to be the small decisions. This can be larger ones. 

For example, I was going to have a waterplay day the day before school started, and that was going to be like a yearly tradition. Go outside, waterplay, get excited, wear yourself out so you can go to school the next day well rested. 

Well my five year old decided that we were inviting the entire neighborhood, and also hand wrote some invitations to her friends at school. So now we have a big party. 

It could be overwhelming, or I could know that I already know what I’m buying for a big party, any birthday party, any now I guess neighborhood party that will be famously known for I’m sure by the end of today. I will buy cupcakes, balloons, bags of chips, water bottles, and juice pouches and then like one variety pack of treats. That’s all I do. That’s it. 

I already know that those are the decisions. I’m not even going to walk through the entire Sam’s Club. I’m only going to go in for those things because I’ve decided that those are our snacks for when we have kid parties. And that feels pretty dang awesome. 

Because otherwise this can be really overwhelming that I might have potentially 25 five year olds at my house, literally this afternoon. 


Anyway, I hope that this has inspired you to take a look the next time one of those recurring decisions comes around, and just go ahead and decide what the answer is going to be for every single time you reach that. Every time you go to Starbucks you order the same thing, that’s totally fine. Otherwise, you’re going to be staring at the menu for a really long time every season. If that PSL hits, and you know, you want it, that is your once decided thing.

Anyway, I hope that this really hit home for you. I hope that this also reduces some of that decision fatigue that you get. And I hope that you don’t have an extra 1500 decisions a day when you come home. 

If this has really helped you, I would love to know what types of things you have decided once on. I will cover a few in my stories, and I would just love to share what has been working for you or what things you didn’t realize you decided once on, but has actually made your life already easier. I’ll see you next time. 


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Keywords: decided, decisions, routines, dinner, yearly tradition, theme, snacks, rotation, decision fatigue