The Simplified Workweek

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Editor’s Note: A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to write a guest post for Lauren over at An Organized Life; however, I thought my readers might enjoy it as well!  

Work – we all do it in some capacity or another; and while the nature of that work, and when/where it is accomplished will inevitably vary, one thing I’m sure we can all identify with is the workweek.

For some, their work takes place in a traditional office or corporate setting.  For others, they accomplish their work at home.  Generally defined as “the total number of hours or days worked in a week”, the workweek can be overwhelming, regardless of the type of work you engage in.

Having worked in a corporate environment for the past (almost) decade, for me, the key to a successful workweek is to organize my life in a way that simplifies my days and limits decision fatigue.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, decision fatigue refers to the “deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making”.  In essence, this theory posits that humans have a finite capacity for “good decision making”, and when that capacity runs dry, well, it can lead to all sorts of negative emotions and unhealthy behaviours.

For example, according to a 2011 article published in The New York Times Magazine, prisoners who appeared before a judge and parole board in the morning received parole approximately 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.  The authors argued that the judges had more clarity and objectivity earlier in the day, while those same qualities were almost non-existent by the end.

While I am not accounting for all variables here, what this evidence may suggest is that the fewer decisions we have to make (regardless of the subject matter), the better our decisions will be.  Therefore, the more we organize and simplify those mundane decisions, the more “good decision making” capacity we will have to use on important matters.

So, I thought, why not employ that same line of thinking to improve the quality of one’s workweek?  With that said, today on An Organized Life, I offer you three ways to simplify your workweek:

Assemble a “Workweek Uniform”:

Whether you spend your workdays in a formal corporate setting, running your own business, or minding your little one’s at home, everyone can benefit from the simplicity of a workweek uniform.

The key to avoiding decision fatigue, and to ensure your week runs smoothly is to build a workweek uniform from quality pieces that are sensible for your life.

If your days are spent hopping from boardroom to boardroom, then perhaps five days’ worth of neutral silk blouses along with a few tailored skirt or pant suits will work best; however, if you are a stay-at-home mom, then you may wish to forgo the tailored pant suit for a comfortable but polished pair of slacks and a crisp cotton shirt, knowing that you will be down on that play mat often.

Working in a business casual environment, I tend to prefer tailored, ankle-length slacks and flowing blouses, with a smattering of cardigans for winter – all in neutral shades.  In summer, I tend to opt for dresses, not only for their light-weight appeal, but also because it is so simple to get dressed with one piece.

Currently, I have five pairs of slacks (like these from Banana Republic ) and five blouses (like these from White House Black Market ) in my rotation and when adding to my wardrobe, I have a rule – I must be able to wear each pair of slacks with at least two blouses, and I must be able to wear each blouse with at least two pairs of slacks.  This rule ensures that I can pair outfits quickly during the week and get out that door on time.

Curate a “Workweek Menu”:

On weekends, I take pleasure in perusing cookbooks and enjoy spending time in the kitchen; however, throughout the workweek, I do not have the time or the will to do this.

During the week, I regularly return home from work after six o’ clock, and following a long day of making decisions, the absolute last thing I want to do is make that ever-painful decision – what’s for dinner?

In an effort to make my evenings more enjoyable and avoid that pesky decision fatigue, I developed a workweek menu of sorts.  A collection of simple meals, made from a few (preferably fresh) quality ingredients, which go from refrigerator to table in less than an hour.

To accomplish this, and if our schedule allows, I prefer to do my grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, so that I can prepare my fresh ingredients for the week ahead on Sunday.

Typically, I spend one to two hours washing and preparing my fruits and vegetables for the meals we intend to have that week.  Based on the meal, I then group the ingredients together, label the containers and store them in the refrigerator.  Then, whoever returns home from work first (typically my husband), can easily begin putting dinner together.

While our meals vary enough from week to week that we do not tire of them, they remain simple enough that dinner is prepared, consumed and cleaned up without any stress.

Here are a few recipes that are currently in my rotation:

Chicken Caesar Wraps
Two-Step Chicken Bake
Baked Tilapia
Vegetarian Rice Bowl

Gather Your “Workweek Beauty Essentials”:

I love playing around with different makeup looks as much as the next girl; however, throughout the workweek, I prefer to keep my beauty routine uncomplicated.

Regardless of whether you spend your weeks in the boardroom or the playroom (which can be equally terrifying), we all feel better with a little polish.  To be clear, there is no magic number of products that takes one from gauche to grace; beauty essentials are relative and based on what makes each individual feel their best.

Editor’s Note: a quick tip for simplifying one’s makeup routine is to use “double duty” products – i.e. blush that doubles as a lip tint.

My workweek beauty essentials include:

My workweek makeup essentials are:

The above-mentioned is just a sampling of the many ways one can simplify and organize their lives for a more enjoyable workweek.

How do you simplify your life to avoid decision fatigue?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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4 Comments

  1. Kathleen

    Dear Ashleigh,

    This is so well done. I was especially relieved to know that there is an actual name for the overload I feel (and I’m sure many others) with all the daily decisions that I have to make. Some days when it comes to dinner, I am at a loss….

    Your suggestions are excellent. Perhaps that’s why our grandmothers had the same dinners each night of the week. Monday meatloaf, Tuesday spaghetti etc. Repetitive but functional.

    I always look forward to your well thought out posts.

    Warmly, Kathleen

    1. Thanks so much, Kathleen! Yes, somedays can just be too overwhelming. I’m sure that’s why they have designated meals throughout the week! They had a lot to manage back then too! I hope you’re well!

  2. What a great post! I will be sharing with my readers and clients (I am a professional organizer.). I always say that the reason why I plan ahead is because I am actually pretty lazy and don’t want to spend time making decisions like what to wear 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth! Yes, I plan ahead for the same reason 😊

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