Fight Decision Fatigue and Boost Creativity with a Capsule Wardrobe

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Constraints + More Brain Power = Supercharged Creativity

I love a good system.


Because decision fatigue is an actual thing.

Your brain is only able to make so many decisions in a day. Once you've hit your quota, your decision making capability decreases. You might start making poor decisions. Or you might use way too much energy for simple decisions.

Every decision takes energy. Low stakes decisions like where to sit in the coffeeshop. And super important decisions, like a which color to of nail polish you want. Maybe the toughest decision of all:  which blouse to pair with your pencil skirt.

On a daily basis, decisions are a finite resource. Making decisions uses the same brain juice as willpower. Choosing the boiled egg over the Krispy Kreme is a decision. A tough one, but it’s a decision like all the others.

When you make too many decisions in a day you suffer decision fatigue. This diminishes your decision making capability and zaps your creativity.

Enter the Capsule Wardrobe.

The capsule wardrobe has improved my mornings and days. It has decreased the anxiety I used to feel every morning trying to get dressed.

Wait, is it really that hard to get dressed in the morning?

Very, for some of us.

Before the capsule wardrobe, I was my awkward 4th grade self in bell bottom jeans and a cowl neck sweater.

If you've ever tried on more than 5 shirts before you left the house, you might need a capsule wardrobe, too. If you want to have influence in the world, clothes are extremely important. Having to make daily decisions about them is a colossal waste of mental energy.

Use your energy for better things.

I've roughly followed the UnFancy capsule wardrobe system I found through Kyran Pittman. The concept is simple: 37 pieces of clothing-- give or take. My capsule is closer to 50.

The number doesn’t matter, so long as the result helps you get dressed in the morning. The strict version includes shoes but not other accessories. You switch everything out every season. A capsule wardrobe is not like having a uniform. It’s Garanimals for grown-ups, with a lot of different options.

Wardrobe constraints conserve energy for creativity.

Steve Jobs employed the ultimate capsule wardrobe. His famous black turtleneck and jeans was more of a uniform, but it enabled him to be more creative. A lot of other extremely successful people swear by a limited wardrobe.

Few could be as strict as Jobs, but more is never more for me.

The capsule wardrobe is to getting dressed as deadlines are to writing. Every morning I've got to put something on, and it's going to be some combination of these 37 things, one way or another. Just like when I commit to submit some bit of writing by a certain date.

It gets done, one way or another.


Now that I use the capsule wardrobe, I have more decision-making juice for my work, my writing, and life in general. I have more energy and focus for the right things on my infinite to-do list.

I suspect there are deep insights in the way we dress ourselves each day. In how we manage the care and keeping of our clothes. Maybe someday I'll write about that.

If you have trouble getting dressed, the capsule wardrobe might change your life.

Or at least get you out the door faster.