Identifying Your Household’s Rule of Life

When it comes to living a life of meaning and purpose, an important step is to identify the priorities and core values that will serve as a framework for how you live. One way to do this is to determine your household’s Rule of Life.

What is a Rule of Life?

It’s simply the commitment to live your life in a particular way.

The word “rule” is based on the Latin word regula, which means “rule” or “measuring rod.” I first encountered this concept in the book The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century. In it, mystic and Benedictine scholar John Chittister presents St. Benedict’s Rule along with his personal commentary on why this ancient text is still relevant today. It has added so much richness to my life to incorporate this concept.

St. Benedict’s Rule revolved around five practices intended for those living a monastic lifestyle, but they are actually very relevant for those of us living outside the monastic community. These five practices include Prayer, Work, Study, Hospitality, and Renewal, and together, they offer the structure for a meaningful life.

Identifying Your Rule of Life

While most of us are not living as part of a monastic community, our households are communities unto themselves. Whether you live alone or with roommates, whether you are a married couple with no kids or you have a large family, identifying your household’s Rule of Life creates a deeper sense of intention and purpose for your household. While it may take some creativity to get everyone on board with being committed to the Rule you identify, it’s worth the effort.

To begin with, prayerfully consider your current season of life and the resources available to you. What is most important to you in this season? Who is part of our household community, and what do they need most in this season? If you live alone, how do you want your household to function, both in your solitude and in community with others?

Our Household Rule of Life

Our family’s current Rule of Life takes into consideration our children’s ages, our rhythm of life (school, work, extracurriculars), and our resources of time, energy, and finances. In our current season of life, we are committed to the following:

  • Meals Together. At least three nights a week and Sundays, we all sit down together and eat a meal prepared by someone in the house (usually me, but sometimes the children or my husband). We set the table and have conversation as we eat, and everyone participates in some way–either setting the table, cooking, or cleaning up afterwards.

    As Dr. Anne Fishel of The Family Dinner Project explains, “Over the past 20 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviors that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem. Studies also indicate that for young children, dinner conversation is a more potent vocabulary-booster than reading, and the stories told around the kitchen table help our children build resilience. The icing on the cake is that regular family meals also lower the rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents. What else can families do that takes only about an hour a day and packs such a punch?”

    Prioritizing meals together at least a few times a week is one of the easiest ways we can connect with one another and prioritize our togetherness as a family. It also helps our children learn how to conduct themselves around the table and what to do when they are served something they don’t like. Our hope is that our children will feel comfortable anywhere they go and be gracious guests when they are in someone else’s home.
  • Discipleship in the Way of Christ. As followers of Jesus, my husband and I believe that one of the best gifts we can give our kids is the experience of living as His disciples. This means that prayer, scripture, and regular discussions about what it means to be an authentic follower of Christ are part of our rhythm of life, as are home fellowship groups, worshiping together at church, watching movies and television programs that depict Bible stories in engaging ways, and cultivating friendships with other followers of Christ.

    And it’s not always the adults who lead the way! Our children each have their own thoughts about faith and life, and we welcome them to take the ball and run when it comes to what it means to live as a Christian.

    At the same time, we are not insulated or isolated from the non-Christian world. Our children go to public school and participate in clubs and rec sports with people from all backgrounds, and our community of friends includes people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and perspectives. We don’t believe so much in shielding our children as we do in equipping them. We want them to think for themselves and find their own path to God as the Spirit leads.
  • Hospitality. Maintaining an open door policy and always being ready to welcome people into our home is huge value for both my husband and me. Back when we were dating and just starting to talk about what it might look like to do life together, we agreed that hospitality was a huge priority for both of us. We host meals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, playdates, movie nights, and overnight guests on a regular basis—and we love it!
  • Contribution to the Common Good. Fostering a sense of responsibility for the common good is a priority in our household. We don’t ask the children to do “chores,” but rather to do “contributions,” and we don’t pay them to help out—we expect them to help because they are part of the community of our household. This practice is based on the teaching of Amy McCready (founder of Positive Parenting Solutions)*, and it’s one of my favorite things about that program. I often remind the kids, “We want to be people who leave the world better than we found it.” This includes serving within our own household, as well as in our community and beyond, where we try to be intentional as we pick up trash in our neighborhood, rake leaves and shovel snow for our neighbors, keep bags of snacks in the car to give people we encounter who are asking for help, and do other things to serve one another and our community.
  • Fun Together. The Krispin family places a high priority on having fun together! Playing games together, Friday Family Movie Night, roller skating, hiking, one-on-one “special time” with the kids, and taking trips together a few times a year are all built in to the fabric of our family life. We are keenly aware that these years at home together are flying by, and soon enough, we won’t be able to spend as much time together. We try to make the most of it while we can!

What might a Rule of Life look like for you?

As you consider what it means to live with intention and build a life that is aligned with your priorities, what are some of the things that stand out to you?

What might your household’s Rule of Life look like?


Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

*Affiliate Link

5 Tips for Putting Technology in its Place at Night

Do you struggle with nighttime tech use? Do you find it hard to wake up in the morning, because you stayed on your smartphone or tablet into the wee hours of the night?

What may seem like harmless scrolling is actually robbing many people of precious hours of sleep, leading to irritability, trouble with concentration, a weakened immune system, and health risks, like high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes.

Not to mention being chronically late to work or school!

No one means to be at the mercy of their devices. We convince ourselves that we can stop anytime we want. We tell ourselves, “I’ll just check Instagram once more real quick,” and an hour later, we’re still scrolling. Then, suddenly, it’s 1 AM, and we’ll be lucky if we can get five and a half hours of sleep before the alarm goes off.

If you are someone who struggles to maintain healthy boundaries when it comes to tech use at night, here are some things I have found helpful in placing boundaries around nighttime tech use and putting technology in its proper place.

  1. Get an alarm clock. You remember those, right? All they do is tell time, or perhaps they have a radio as well. If you don’t still have one, get one and put it beside your bed. This way you do not need to rely on your device to wake you up in the morning. You also don’t need to pick up your phone to check the time in the middle of the night.
  2. Create a charging station at least fifteen feet away from your bed. It could be in the hallway, a closet, or even a drawer on the other side of the room. It just has to be far enough away that you have to physically get up from your bed to access your device.
  3. Create friction around accessing your apps after your pre-determined end time. First, decide on a time you will be done with your device for the night. Set an alarm for fifteen minutes before that time, and when the timer goes off, put your device on the charging station you’ve established. (If this is the only phone you have, and you’re concerned people won’t be able to reach you on the off chance you get a call, put the ringer at full volume. If someone needs to reach you in the middle of the night, you’ll hear it.) Next, create additional friction by turning on Downtime, App Limits, and/or Focus. These are great tools on Apple devices (I’m sure non-Apple devices have their own versions) that allow you to set an intention around tech and place boundaries of access and time around your app use.
  4. Identify what’s behind your nighttime tech use. Are you bored? Keep a book or some magazines beside your bed to look at as your brain begins to shut down for the night. Lonely? Keep some pens and notecards beside your bed and write a letter to someone you care about before turning off the light. Mind racing and struggling to “turn off your brain at night?” Keep a yoga mat beside your bed and do a short series of breathing exercises and stretches before climbing into bed.
  5. Involve another person. Tell someone you trust about your struggle with tech use at night. Many of our struggles lose power when we bring them into the light by acknowledging them aloud. If loneliness is behind your tech use at night, perhaps you could even end your day with a short phone call with a friend.

Technology is a great thing. I’m grateful for how many aspects of my life are more convenient and streamlined because of the apps I use on a day-to-day basis. But technology can have a way of taking over. These steps can help put technology in its place—and give you a good night’s rest.


Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Used by permission.

Prioritizing Under Pressure

Part of being a good leader, whether of many or just in your own home, is being able to manage effectively and make decisions when under pressure. But not everyone realizes that prioritizing under pressure is a skill that can be developed. As a professional businesswoman and homemaker, I know this well.

Recently, I had one of those days.

You know the ones: To Do List a mile long. Looming deadlines. Last-minute “emergencies.” A client meeting in the middle of the day. A birthday dinner to prepare and presents to wrap. Not to mention I was flying cross-country with my husband and four of our five children the following day, and I had not yet packed for anyone.

That morning, I woke up and felt the panic slowly beginning to creep in. How am I going to get it all done before we leave tomorrow? Everything felt urgent and important, but the truth was, I wasn’t going to get “it all” done. That would have been impossible.

But there were some things that I had to get done, because they were time-sensitive and important. As I felt my chest tighten, my mood darken, and my thoughts starting to spiral, I turned to a tool I use with clients who are struggling to prioritize tasks when under pressure, a framework based on something called “The Eisenhower Matrix.”

Dwight Eisenhower was a man who carried a lot of responsibilities, first as a U.S. Army General, Allied Forces Commander during WWII, and NATO Commander after that, and then as the 34th President of the United States. In other words, the man knew how to get stuff done. Making decisions and prioritizing tasks while under immense, life-and-death pressure was a skill he developed and systematized in order to help others develop this skill as well.

The framework he used is exactly what I turned to that day. I didn’t have to look it up; I have used this so many times that I could just imagine the grid in my mind and quickly categorize every task accordingly. And it was just what I needed to help me focus, prioritize, and regain a sense of peace in the midst of the storm of stress that was swirling around me.

Here’s how it works:

First, do a quick assessment of the tasks and decisions before you. Ask yourself, “Is this urgent? Is it important?” Depending on how you answer those questions, quickly do one of the following:

DO IT NOW. If the task is both urgent (i.e. time-sensitive) and important (i.e. necessary), buckle down and do it now. Because of our trip the next day, tasks like cleaning out the car and packing the kids’ and my suitcases were both urgent and necessary. So was the client meeting and running to the grocery store for more cat and dog food and a birthday cake for Dad. I got to it and did those tasks that day.

PLAN TO DO IT LATER. I keep a document in my Notes app on my phone, and anything that can be done later goes on that list. If the task is important and necessary, but can wait, it goes on that list. I then block out time on my calendar for those tasks. The particular day in question, I had bank deposits to process, invoices to log, a blog to write, a letter to write, copious amounts of reading for my current seminary class, and some other things that were demanding my attention. The bank deposit can happen today, but I can log the invoices, write the blog and letter, and those other things later. Once I put those tasks on my “Later List,” I could move on from them for now.

DELEGATE WHERE POSSIBLE. One of the things I wanted to do before we left town for a week was to get my Christmas tree out to the curb before all of the needles dropped in my living room. But just the thought of taking time to remove the ornaments and get them packed up with everything else I had going on felt overwhelming. So I asked my son to remove all of the ornaments from the tree. Soon, without being asked, my older daughter began taking down the lights and garland from our staircase bannister, and the younger kids followed her lead and started pitching in to help as well. Within an hour, the Christmas decorations were mostly packed up and the tree was on the curb. A task that had felt overwhelming earlier that day was finished.

ELIMINATE ANYTHING THAT IS NOT IMPORTANT AND URGENT. Just delete it from your radar. Poof! On the day I’m describing, I eliminated cleaning the house (why do we always feel the need to clean our house top to bottom before going on vacation?!) and baking a cake for my dad (I bought one instead, but displayed it on my fancy cake stand. It was beautiful and delicious and no one cared that it wasn’t made from scratch!)

We may not be leading an army or the free world, but each of us is fighting our own battles every day. Whether we are running a company, a department, a church, or a household (or some combination of these), we face the challenge of knowing what to do when and how without losing our minds or operating from a place of stress, when we are more likely to drop balls or make poor decisions.

Getting to know the Eisenhower Matrix adds a tool to our toolbox and helps us develop a skill that every high-capacity leader must have: the skill of prioritizing under pressure.

How Do You Plan to Flourish in 2023?

This image represents a popular tool used in personal development to help identify areas for potential growth. This tool goes by many names, but I call it a “Life Alignment Wheel,” and I love using it with my clients to help them get a baseline before we begin working together. Aiming to raise my client’s awareness, I invite them to think through each area of life and ask the question, “How am I doing here?”

It may or may not come as a surprise that many of my clients come to me because, in their words, “I just want to be happy.” Many people know that something is “off” in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on why. The Wheel can help!

As you think through each area, you will begin with a general sense of things. For example, you may look at Physical Health and say, initially, “I need to get in better shape,” or look at Finances and say, “My finances are a mess. I don’t even know where to begin.” Believe it or not, that’s a great place to start! Once you have identified where you want to grow and improve, you are ready to utilize coaching to help you design each specific step in getting there.

The end of the year is a great time to go through the Life Alignment Wheel and get a clear picture of where you would like to grow in the new year. There are many images out there to help you do this, often called “Wheel of Life” or “Coaching Wheel,” but this is one I made to reflect my understanding of which areas of life need to be brought into alignment on a regular basis in order to feel a sense of holistic flourishing.

I’d like to invite you to take some time today or tomorrow as we wrap up 2022 and think through each area. Click here for a free printable PDF.

The way it works is that you shade in how strong you feel in each area. If you feel really good about a particular category, color it in. If you know you want to improve or grow in an area, shade it in accordance with that sense you have.

Don’t be surprised if doing this exercise evokes strong emotions. It is very common for people to experience some surprisingly big feelings when they begin to come to terms with their life. I have had clients begin to cry as they became more aware of things after having ignored or denied certain aspects of their lives.

It may be hard to look at, but it will be impossible to begin to make the changes you want to make if you don’t.

Start the new year with a clear sense of where you want to go in the next twelve months! If your life is perfect just as it is, this is not the tool for you. But if you feel like there are areas you would like to grow in, the Life Alignment Wheel can help.

Cheers to having a new year filled with joy, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment!

What’s Most Important in 2023?

Photo by lil artsy on

A concept that has had a profound effect of my life (or, more specifically, my way of life) is, ”One Decision That Makes a Thousand.” It comes from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. When you distill your priorities down to a clear and specific intent, that makes future decisions much easier.

Here’s an example of how it looks for me. At the end of 2021, I spent time thinking about the season of life I’m in and what is most important to me *right now.* My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer (“rare and aggressive”). My oldest child had just started college. My youngest child was in first grade. I was 46.

As I considered what I wanted most in life *right now,* I realized that it was all about presence. I wanted to be more present with my parents and more present with my kids. I felt the swift passage of time and realized that there were things I could only do *now,* things I won’t be able to do when my folks are gone or when my kids are grown.

Once I realized this priority in my life, it made so many other decisions for me. I let go of a part-time position that required me to work on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings so that I could be there for dinner and bedtime with my kids, sit with them in church, or go to church with my parents sometimes (my mom played the piano at her church and my dad sang in the choir, and I wanted more opportunities to hear them both).

I started a new job with hours that could be correlated to the school calendar. I also added a standing weekly appointment to go to my parents’ house to sit and have coffee with them. Our weekly coffee dates are the only time I get to spend with my mom and dad without anyone else around, and they have become a highlight of my week. (Theirs, too, I think.) For 26 of my 47 years, I have lived hundreds or thousands of miles away from my parents and only saw them a couple of times each year. The luxury of being able to see them a couple of times a week is a gift, indeed.

When opportunities come along, they get filtered through the question of how they will affect my ability to be present to those who matter most right now, and I find it much easier to exercise “the power of a graceful ‘no.’”

For some folks, the priority right now is to finish school, or get out of debt, or start a new business, or get a promotion. Whatever your top intent is in this season, once you have clarity on that, so many other decisions are already made; you just have to have the courage to say no to anything that does not support your intentions for this season of life.

We can do a lot, but we cannot do it all. We all have the same finite resources of time, money, and energy. Choices have to be made, and too many people make choices reactively instead of proactively. And most of our reactive choices are not aligned with our intentions for life. They are aligned with someone else’s intentions for life.

So with a few more weeks left in 2022, ask yourself: what is most important right now? And how can 2023 be more aligned with what matters most to me in my current season of life?

What Changes Will You Make in 2023?

Are you ready for 2023?

Now is a great time to start preparing for the year ahead.

Here’s an exercise I encourage everyone to do sometime in the next month. If you try it out, I’d love to hear what becomes clearer to you from doing this?

This is the first step in my “2023 By Design” plan, but I’m telling you here exactly what I do with my clients so you can just do it on your own if you don’t want to sign up for the whole plan. I *promise* you, this will help set you up for a more focused and fruitful 2023!

Sit down with your 2022 calendar/planner/datebook, bank and credit card statements, and a piece of paper folded in thirds.

On one third of the paper, write “More,” on another, write, “Same,” and on the third side, write “Less.” Starting in January, go through each month and put each item from your calendar into one of those columns. Scan your financial statements and consider those as well. Where did your money go in 2022? What do you want to do more/less/same of?

Include everything! Appointments, coffee dates, work, church or civic commitments, vacations, pet expenses, kids’ extracurriculars, family rhythms, etc.

Once you have your three lists, begin looking at 2023. Using a blank 2023 calendar or planner, begin to plug in the things from your “More” column. At the same time, take stock of your “Less” column and act accordingly.

For example, this exercise helped me realize at the end of 2021 that, as much as a love being a worship leader, I did not want to have that weekend commitment (and all of the extra work throughout the week that goes along with it) during this season of life, so I stepped down from my staff position, freeing me up to be more present to my family during the weekend and host Sunday dinners—two things from my “More” column. I’ve been a worship leader for the better part of the past twenty-one years—it’s just what I’ve always done!—but making these lists helped me see clearly that it was not the season for me to be doing it every weekend. This also created space for me to pursue coaching, which I love and can do while my children are in school.

This exercise also helped us decide where we were spending too much money on extracurriculars and what changes we could make the next year.

What might these lists help you see more clearly about how you’re spending those precious resource—your time and your money—in your current season of life?

This is also a great time to make those “Same” appointments, like annual physical exams and dental check-ups, and to plug in the things that are working well for you in this season (for us, this includes blocking out Friday nights for pizza and movies with the kids, a beloved tradition in our home and something everyone looks forward to, but tweaking how we do it so I could spend less than I had been spending on it in the previous year!)

By doing this exercise in 2021, I was able to design a 2022 that has turned out to be a really fruitful and surprisingly spacious year, considering all of the people and moving parts in my life! This year I was able to focus on doing more of what mattered and less of what didn’t. This year has held more quality time with my husband, children, and parents, more prayer, more reading, launching a new career as a coach, less chaos, and less frustration with feeling like my time is not my own. Even though much of what I do in this season of life is about serving others, I have created space and intention, allowing plenty of time and opportunities for filling my own bucket.

This was especially helpful when some things came up during the year that were really hard and required a lot of emotional strength and clarity. Because I had space and good alignment, I had a greater capacity for handling the necessary interruptions and pivots required.

I am really passionate about this practice, and I want to help others experience the fruitful results of being well aligned with your priorities and values.

If you try this exercise, I’d love to hear what became clearer to you as you did it! What changes are you going to make in 2023?

Click here to learn more about my six-session coaching series to help you head into the new year with a plan!
Click Image for More Info!

It’s Summer Break! Do You Have a Plan?!

This is a picture my son took of me walking home from my children’s end-of-school awards ceremony on Thursday. Don’t you love my little stowaway? 😍

So, summer break is officially upon us!

In the last few weeks, I have had three clients come to their coaching sessions with the goal of working on a plan for summer break. Clients who are parents with careers outside the home and full-time stay-at-home parents are recognizing that they want to be intentional and proactive in how they “do” summer break. As one client lamented, “We waste so much time!” Another expressed concern for how much time her kids spend on screens. The struggle is real!!

(Homeschooling parents, don’t judge 😉 It’s a big adjustment to go from the structure of the school week to nearly three months of free time!)

I have loved working with these three women, all with different circumstances and personalities. I asked each one a few questions, and their responses helped them identify what was most important to them—their core #values for summer break. This led to being intentional and proactive with designing a realistic rhythm of daily life they felt good about, and each of them left our sessions with unique-to-them plans that were doable and left plenty of room for enjoying a break from the demands of school.

Summer break is a wonderful time for families to connect, for kids to develop new skills or pursue new interests, and for everyone to get some respite. And some people do fine winging it! But for those who benefit from structure and a plan, I’m here to help 🙂

If you’re looking at the next three months and feeling 😱😱😱, I’d love to help. Schedule a Pay-What-You-Wish coaching session, and we’ll come up with a summer plan you can feel really good about.

#lifecoach #summerbreak #parentingcoach #worklifebalance #worklifebalancegoals #essentialism #simplify #parenting #parentingwithpurpose #parentingwithintention #raisingreaders #raisingleaders

What’s Important Now?

via @ChristyTennantKrispin on Instagram

“What’s important *now*?” is the question that will most ground you when life is feeling hard, overwhelming, or just “too much.” 

This morning came too soon, after I was up with a sick child after already going to bed much later than was ideal. (May is, after all, the new December! 😳) My husband’s away, so tagging out was not an option. (My hat is off to so many of you who parent solo 24/7!)

So this morning, I needed to swim through fatigue and find my way back to being fully present—my kairos moment, here and now. And this is what I came to: I need time to read and sip coffee on my front porch.

My dog and I got a much shorter walk, but a long walk did not feel nearly as important as going treasure hunting in the pages of these books.

I set a timer and let myself be fully present to the singing birds, neighbors on their morning walks, sounds from the construction zone down the street, lawnmower up and running first thing a few doors down, strong (decaf) coffee in my mug, pages of my books, and smooth feel of the highlighter in my hand. When ideas came that tried to take me away from this here and now (the email I need to send, appointments I need to make or cancel, paper I need to work on for class, thoughts for the coaching calls I have later today, and even this Instagram post), I jotted it down on my “for later” list then got back to my books. The other things will get done, but by putting them in their place (“Later”), I could be fully present to what I’ve recognized is what I most need here and now. 

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” (Socrates)

Getting a lot done is not the same as being busy.

I get a lot done.

But, increasingly and with much intention, I’m very rarely “busy” these days. It’s an important distinction. 

Grateful to Greg McKeown’s work in his books Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  and Effortless: Make it Easier to Do What Matters Most, and to Mike Garrison for recommending them.

3 Ways to Deal With Decision Fatigue

Have you heard of “decision fatigue?”

Decision fatigue refers to “a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions.” (AMA) The basic idea is that, the more decisions a person makes throughout the day, the harder it becomes to make decisions, or to make good decisions.

It’s a real thing, and it’s something that comes up a lot with my clients, most of whom are professional women in high levels of leadership (entrepreneurs, small business owners, executives) who also run busy households (i.e. they have children at home). These women have to make all of the decisions for themselves at work and at home, plus the decisions that impact others—employees, colleagues, and the children and other adults who live in their home.

As I’ve coached my clients (and myself!) to deal with decision fatigue, I’ve identified three key areas to focus on: creating systems and maintaining routines, delegating decisions to others, and editing your life to reduce the number of decisions you have to make. I thought I’d share a bit about what each of these might look like in hopes that it might be helpful to you as well!

First, reduce decision fatigue by creating systems and letting those systems make many of the daily decisions for you.

Over the years, I’ve played around and created systems for my household for everything from meal planning and grocery shopping (Taco Tuesday, anyone?), to household contributions (you might call them chores), to scheduling, to gifts for the (many) birthday parties my kids get invited to (I buy a bunch of craft kits and my kids can pick one from the gift closet when it’s time to go to a birthday party).

But one of my favorite systems has to do with getting dressed in the morning.

If you are someone who has a lot of responsibilities at work and at home, sometimes the last thing you think about is what to wear. So, you grab whatever and throw it on, then realize later in the day you feel, as one client put it, “like a schlump.” Unfortunately, this affects your confidence, because everything is connected. As Image Consultant Kim Peterson writes, “Research reveals that dressing your truth and authentic style builds up your resilience. Even though you may be still working from home, there is tremendous power and value in getting dressed and showin’ up – even if it’s just for yourself.” What we wear matters!

We need a system for simplifying getting dressed without compromising style.

In 2014, I became a mother through foster care. In one day, I went from no children to two children, ages five years old and five months old. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming number of decisions to make! The best advice I got came from entrepreneur Cara Veale Coniglio, Owner/Designer at Time and the Bell and mother of two, when she said, “You need a uniform.” What she meant was, you need an outfit that you don’t need to give a second thought to—you put it on because it’s your uniform. Your uniform should be functional for the season of life and work you’re in, but also something you feel confident in.

I have carried this concept through the last eight years, from the stylish cotton tunics and leggings of my midnight feeding days, which went from night to day (and sometimes back to night again 😬), to the jeans, graphic tees, and blazers I’m into right now. And I borrow the “Geranimals” concept: I can mix and match tops and bottoms without much thought. Easy peasy.

From a professional standpoint, this also ties in with personal branding. By having a “uniform,” you have a very simple built-in plan for dressing confidently and communicating something about who you are, which, whether we like it or not, is part of how we attract new clients.

The second area to focus on when seeking to reduce decision fatigue is delegating decisions to others. It’s vital that we develop the mindset and skills to delegate effectively, both at work and at home. Always be looking for who within your sphere could do a task that naturally defaults to you.

Because I work four days a week, I cannot possibly carry the full responsibility of doing everything that needs to happen in order for our household to function. I can manage it, but I can’t do it all. At home, our kids have morning and evening checklists to help them remember what they need to do before leaving the house and before going to bed. We have a chart showing which parent is reading to which child each night (the chart decides for us). We also have a very long list of household tasks that need to be done on a daily or semi-daily basis. Everyone is expected to contribute, and we have a record of who does what, because everyone initials next to the job they’ve done. We discuss the contributions, and how folks are doing with helping out, at our weekly family meeting. I also delegate meal planning to my kids once a week or so—yes, even my seven-year-old takes a turn planning dinner. With some coaching and guidance (which I wrote about here), they plan what we’ll have. It’s empowering for them, and takes one more decision off my plate. All I have to do is add their ingredients to my shopping list.

At work, delegating tasks is a wonderful way to identify and empower leaders in your company, whether you are a small business or in the C-suite of a major corporation, and it’s a great way to reduce the number of decisions that fall to you. One of the best questions a boss can ask an employee is, “What do you think we should do?” Usually, they have been thinking about it and already have good ideas for how to handle something. Take time to ask yourself, “Do I need to be the one doing this? Is this something I could delegate?” If the answers are “no” and “yes” respectively, delegate.

The last recommendation I make to clients who suffer from decision fatigue is to edit your life and reduce the number of decisions you need to make!

I borrowed the term “edit your life” from Gary McKeown’s phenomenal book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (here is a great summary of the book on Medium). The concept is simple: editing is “the strict elimination of the trivial, unimportant, or irrelevant.” Successfully editing your life involves cutting out options and knowing when to say “no.” In fact, McKeown devotes a section of this book to ways to artfully and gracefully say, “no.” I have found it such a helpful concept and saying “no” is now something I love to do, because I know it means I’m saying, “yes” to something better. As my friend and mentor Sean Callahan of Strategic Impact UK often says, “By saying yes to that, what are you saying no to?” This is such an important concept, and it is a vital component of reducing decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is a common challenge for professional women managing a busy company and busy household. By identifying and addressing the ways we can reduce it, we can create more margin for ourselves, lower our stress, and flourish at work and at home.