A few things on my “decide once” list

15 September 2023

“Decide once” is one of the 13 Lazy Genius principles – it’s actually the first one. Though Kendra didn’t originate the idea, she’s certainly popularized it, and rightfully so. The idea is simple: you make a one-time decision about an aspect of your life, and you stick by it until it no longer serves you. Whenever you come to that decision point, you don’t have to expend any brain cells on making a fresh choice; you can simply move forward with the decision you’ve already made and deemed good.

You get the appeal, yes? I certainly do, and have used it to simplify many different areas of my life. I thought it could be fun to round up a few today, and of course would love to hear a few things you’ve decided once about in the comments!

— I sign up for every Meal Train that crosses my path, and I bring a prepared meal from a local shop. In this season of young kids, trying to prepare and deliver two meals in one day (for my family and the other family) was causing enough stress that it had begun to dissaude me from signing up in the first place. I love that I can choose a meal that matches the family’s needs with ease (gluten- or dairy-free, vegetarian, etc.) and support a local small business, too.

— If June is invited to a friend’s birthday party, the friend is getting a gift card to the local paint-your-own pottery place.

— All coats we outgrow get donated to coat drives. Though we consign lots of clothes, coats get donated.

— I (almost) only buy my jeans from Madewell. I know what style I like, I know what size I take; it’s just easy.

— I only buy two pairs of shoes for each child.

— I meal plan on Thursdays and grocery shop on Fridays at Publix.

— Every Friday we’re home is family movie night with takeout. And the parents always choose the movie.

— I decide who I’m going to listen to on Instagram by following them, and thus I try to avoid the Explore tab at all costs.

— Suitcases get unpacked immediately when we arrive home. There’s no hemming and hawing over whether we’ll do it later that night or the next day; we just get it done immediately.

— If underwear gets pooped in (like, actual poop), it gets thrown out. I decided a long time ago that we can afford to pay $10 every so often to buy a few more new packs of underwear than we might otherwise have used :)

Isn’t that wonderful? And the best part is that you still get to change your mind whenever you want – if a decision is no longer serving you, you get to make a new one.

I’d love to hear: what are some of your favorite “decide once” decisions?

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September 15, 2023 5:57 am

I really love this post! I am also on the “unpack suitcases immediately” train. This has me thinking of other things we do to make decisions efficient. Love it!

September 15, 2023 6:21 am

Really enjoyed this post! Some things I decide once on:
-jeans, same as what you said! I have a specific sku that I buy from Old Navy whenever a pair starts to tear.
-birthday cards-I buy every birthday card for every person on my list at the beginning of the year. That way when their birthday comes, I don’t have to think about getting a card.
-getting extra things (disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, etc) at the grocery store. I assume this will change once I have a child and use these things more often, but for now, the extra $1 for grocery store prices vs. a Target is worth for the convenience of things I only purchase every two to three months. Plus it keeps me from going to places that have so many other things to look at, browse through, and buy.

Kelly Strawberry
September 15, 2023 11:36 am

Yes to all of these and LOL about the trash-worthy undies!
Mine to add is a decision that stemmed from my #1 favorite article we have ever discussed at Articles Clurb: the Pope on Panhandling.
If I happen to be carrying cash and see someone in need, I give without worry. This works well for me because I don’t sit at the stoplight feeling guilty if I have no cash on me, but those random times I happen to have cash on me a few times a year, I’ve already decided to give without overthinking it.

September 15, 2023 1:54 pm

I love the idea of giving the same birthday gift – especially since it’s a fun experience!
I would love to get a regular meal planning and shopping day. This has been a thorn in my side for a long time. My husband enjoys grocery shopping and also will often cook and plan some meals – it’s been a challenge since more than one person may be taking the lead on this week to week.
Similar to your undies – if a sock gets a hole in it anywhere, I throw it out!

September 15, 2023 3:01 pm

Love this! I’m adding the Lazy Genius immediately to my TBR pile this fall. Here are some we’ve landed on:

  1. We made a list of nonprofits we care about most as a family a couple of years ago, and 95% of our annual donations are actually auto-charged monthly donations go to those! We save some discretionary money aside for one-off donations to fundraisers when they come up, but this approach has served us well.
  2. All kiddo birthdays start off with a gold number balloon from Target! I buy a couple at a time, and it’s an easy thing we can do to make the day special.
  3. Every Christmas, every parent set gets a ‘year of’ photo book of our family as their primary gift. It makes me feel better about spending a lot of time and money on it, and they treasure the walk down memory lane!
  4. We bought 3 crib sheets for our newborn/toddler sized mattress pre-birth, and only have these in rotation almost 3 years later! We’ll do the same for #2.
  5. We decided years ago that we don’t want to keep alcohol in the house (though we are not a sober family). If we need to buy a bottle of wine to go to a friend’s house, or want beers for a special occasion/guests, we buy them one-off and in limited quantities. It’s never come back up for another discussion!
September 15, 2023 3:20 pm

Whenever I am at Trader Joe’s (about once a month) I buy myself flowers. It’s a nice, small thing to do for myself and I don’t want to talk myself out of it, so I just made the big one time decision.

September 15, 2023 3:33 pm

I have three major things that I do in this realm (though I am now inspired to do more!):
-I don’t try new makeup. I have very sensitive skin, eye allergies, I am generally very picky, and I prefer cruelty free products. So I’ve been buying the exact same items for many years with very, very little deviation.
-I have one credit card and it’s at the same bank as my checking account so I can see everything on one screen. I have been tempted to play the travel points game but worry about losing the simplicity of being able to see checking and credit card totals together on one screen.
-I plan my kids wardrobes around a consistent color scheme. They are little so this still works :) My daughter’s tops always have to go with pink pants. My son’s always have to go with navy blue pants. They each always have a TON of those colored pants/shorts, with only a few exceptions. That way they can dress themselves (or my husband can do it haha) and it usually all goes together.

September 15, 2023 8:23 pm

Yup, these kinds of systems are all over our house/life. My top two are: (1) a rainy day on vacation means going to an independent bookstore and buying a new book, no matter where we are, and (2) Rao’s sauce is delicious and worth it and I won’t feel guilty about buying it. And we also unpack our suitcases!

September 16, 2023 9:25 am

Love this! and love what Kelly said about the pope on panhandling — I’m going to adopt that.
Ours are
1. Pizza on Fridays, always.
2. All adult get donated, and kids clothes get either kept or donated. My only exception is if we never removed the tags I might poshmark it.
3. We tidy up the living room and clean the kitchen / run the dishwasher every night.

Kelly H
September 16, 2023 10:48 am

Oh this is a fun exercise!

  1. I too, only purchase jeans from Madewell, I know my size, and I know my style.
  2. Mondays dinner is always a seafood, usually blackened salmon, its quick, I have it memorized, and it’s low carb – which is usually nice after a weekend
  3. I purchase Christmas cards from Dogwood Hill, started this last year and there are just so many gorgeous designs out in the world I’m limiting myself to stick with just one company.
  4. I’m trying more to do only pick-up for groceries, I spend less, remember to get the items on my list, and can confirm coupons were used efficiently. And just recently decided to shop only at Kroger to prevent decision paralysis and driving all over town. If theres an ingredient I need during the week, I stop at the Publix I pass on my way home from work.
  5. Always immediately unpack from trips
  6. Fridays (my week day off) are for laundry. I treat myself to a podcast while I fold and put away.
September 21, 2023 9:35 am

Love this concept so much! These comments are gold.
The “Decide Once” things that come to mind for me are:

  • Halloween costumes: I always wear all black and put on cat ears. Super simple. It’s been my go-to costume for years. As for my kids, I decided when they were little not to stress about budgeting for a costume or making it, but just to buy whatever they want. I am pretty frugal in their clothes throughout the year, so this feels fun for them and for me since all I do is add to cart.
  • Gifts between my sisters: We all get each other a $25 giftcard for each other’s birthdays. The only surprise is where it is to! It is easy for the gifter and if it’s your birthday, always fun to have a little something to buy yourself.
  • Holidays are basically a “decide once” in so many areas (ex turkey is the main dish every Thanksgiving!). There are so many traditions, but a few that were nice to decide once is to always put our tree up and decorate on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Holiday gifts: We always do a gift exchange between the adults for both sides of the family and the names are sent via a secret santa website on Nov 1.
  • Socks: I buy the same white ruffle socks from Target for my girls (Cat and Jack brand) and that’s it. It makes laundry so much easier having the same kind. I do keep two pairs of “crazy socks” hidden away for wacky tacky days, but otherwise that’s all they wear.
  • Meals: Every Thursday night dinner is either breakfast or leftovers, Friday is family movie night with pizza, and Saturdays are takeout for my husband and me and nuggets and mac and cheese for the kids.
September 22, 2023 11:03 am

I love this post SO much! You’ve set me free from Meal Train agony with your simple suggestion. I feel so much pressure for the meal to be good, fit into their preferences and taken hot/on-time/etc., but gosh all of that really does take the joy out of the giving because then I’m a stressed out mess haha! Some of my favorite decide-once decisions: I listen to the radio only on my morning commute and podcasts during the afternoon commute, I have a go-to coffee order that never changes (no matter the season or place), have my go-to teacher gift (a homemade cookie from our local bakery with a Starbucks gift card attached!)

September 25, 2023 9:58 pm

Oooh, so much good stuff here—this might have been my favorite Lazy Genius principle! A few of mine:
For meal trains, I make Blaire Rogers’ chicken pot pie recipe, since it makes two (one for us, one for them!) + bagged salad + brownies from the box gussied up with frosting and sprinkles.
For kids’ birthday parties, we gift a coloring book + some fun coloring tool, like neon or sparkly crayons.
We buy books as birthday gifts for all our nieces and nephews (and usually gift them in one fell swoop when we’re in NY during the summer).
We use Minted for Christmas cards—the thought of having to move my addresses somewhere else manually makes me want to cry, ha!
I meal plan on Thursdays and grocery shop on Fridays.
Friday = family pizza night + a movie for Dave and me after the kids go to bed.
If I find out that a friend has a miscarriage, I send flowers. They were so touching to me when I went through that experience.
Unless I am going somewhere muddy or wet, I only wear Maylis shoes ;)

October 5, 2023 9:56 am

I read the book but never made the list! I loved reading yours so much! Time to actually do it! :)

October 5, 2023 1:49 pm

Only one that comes to mind right now, I meal plan a month at a time. I really, really dislike deciding what to actually cook, so I only do it once a month. I then normally place a grocery pick up order on Saturday to pick up on Sunday morning before church (with typically a donut stop on the way home).
I enjoyed reading everyone’s “decide once” decisions and will be implementing quite a few!

December 26, 2023 1:12 pm

I love Kendra too – the Lazy Genius!!!
Great shared tips 💕💕💕