Recently my mother paid me one of her quintessential “compli-sults”: a lashing of praise that somehow leaves a bruise. I’m moving flat, and mentioned that my poor organisational skills were sure to wreak havoc with the process.
“Stop putting yourself down, you’re the best at sorting things when you need to be – it’s why I call you in a crisis,” she said. “It’s just the basic, obvious stuff you can’t handle.”
She has a point: I’m writing this column mere days from moving into an unfurnished flat, despite having zero possessions, and the one time I headed out to buy secondhand furniture, I came home with nothing but a single, ornate, old gold spoon.
For a while, I thought the mental block I have around life admin was something to do with an innate lack of focus, that without a deadline or something urgent was too easily distracted. But then I discovered “decision fatigue”.
In psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decision-making after a protracted period of it. Simply put, if we are forced to continuously make decisions, we’ll make worse ones as we go. After a day in our modern world, where we are bombarded by choice – choose what to watch between 1,000 channels; choose which of the 20 juices you want at the supermarket; choose what app to open when you look at your phone – it is understandable that an innocent woman might enter a shop for a bed and emerge with an Edwardian jelly spoon.
I feel vindicated. But sadly, one cannot sleep on vindication alone, so I expect more shopping – and fatigue in every sense – is on the horizon. Still, at least I can now eat my dessert in style.