Photo by James Harrison on Unsplash

I took BASIC programming in high school. I wasn’t very good at it, but something that I think about a lot are the IF…THEN structures.

Basically (heh), an IF…THEN structure allows you to tell the program that if a certain condition is true, then it needs to execute a certain block of code. I remember learning on menu items: you write the code so that if a user selects pizza from a list of menu items, the program asks what toppings the user wants. It’s the same thing as skip logic in a survey: if a respondent answers a question a certain way, they get sent down a specific line of questioning.

Pretty nifty. (Also, sorry programmer friends; it was many years ago and I’m doing my best here.)

So anyway, I often suffer from decision fatigue and analysis paralysis. But I’ve found that in certain decision-making situations that come up over and over again, having a simple IF…THEN rule takes away the need to make a decision and in turn makes life a little easier.

I use them a lot for running-related decisions:

  • I usually alternate running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute. But IF my walk break hits on a downhill, THEN I keep running and take the walk break later.
  • At bedtime, IF my watch battery is below 60%, THEN I charge it overnight.
    • But: IF I have a long run or hike the next day, THEN I charge my watch regardless of the juice level.
  • My skincare routine has extra steps that don’t need to happen every day, so IF it’s a run day, THEN I do those extra steps. 

And for entertainment consumption:

  • IF it’s a weeknight and before 9pm, THEN we watch a 1-hour program.
  • IF it’s a weekend, THEN we watch a movie.

Other good examples are around meal planning:

  • IF it’s grocery day, THEN we get takeout for dinner. (I don’t know why I can never bring myself to cook when my fridge is at its fullest. One of life’s mysteries.)
  • IF we’re running with our run club that evening, THEN we make pizza.

These rules allow the decision to be made for you, so that you save some brainpower to spend elsewhere. Instead of asking, “What’s for dinner?” and staring into the fridge, the question is, “What toppings do I want on my pizza?” which narrows the choices and guides the decision-making process.

In other words, Taco Tuesdays aren’t popular just because tacos are awesome.

So, next time this indecision’s bugging you, think about whether you can apply some IF…THEN logic to make things easier and spend your brainpower on something else!

Do you use IF…THEN logic for any decisions? I’d love to hear them!

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