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  • An unfortunate hierarchy of socks and underwear

    I'm the sort of person that finds comfort in having only one type of clothing. I, for the most part, tend to buy fairly unremarkable store brands, clothing that you wouldn't see paraded by the likes of David Beckham but that is not from the cheap end of the rack either. I get them from the "pleasant mediocrity" section — they know what they are and aren't trying to fool anyone. Clothes of sufficient value that I don't mind if I damage them or what they're washed with but of enough quality that I feel presentable. I also rotate said clothing in batches, so that they deteriorate at roughly the same pace. Colours fading and fabric thinning throughout the entirety of my wardrobe in fantastic synchrony.

    Recently, my fiancée gifted me several new sets of socks and underwear. I wasn't particularly in the market for said undergarments, but she advised that the ones that I had been wearing at home throughout the pandemic were becoming worn, losing their elasticity, and starting to look more and more like "tissue paper" — I'll take her word on it. I usually buy my own socks and underwear but I guess my tolerance for their degradation is quite a bit higher. I felt I was about half-way through the life-cycle of my current rotation and was quite confident I could continue to benefit from that brilliant purchase for quite a few more months yet.

    Here-in lies my conundrum: while I appreciate the care and thought that went into getting them for me (she is extremely thoughtful — quite contrasting when compared to myself who is more single-minded and self-interested) I now have an explicit hierarchy of socks and underwear. Post-shower, I can no longer rely on going to my dresser in the morning and immediately reaching for the socks or underwear that I want to wear. Because let's face it; the new ones are clearly superior. Warm, soft, comfortable. She didn't buy enough pairs for me to be able to start a new rotation, so my current rotation consists of my old rotation with some new additions. I now find myself presented with a draw full of old-rotation underwear but then trawling through clean laundry baskets searching for new pairs wasting several minutes before either finding them or having to resort to the inferior. I know! Tragic.

    It's not world-ending (however going by how much I harped on about it, my fiancee may get that impression) though it does highlight how simple actions (as simple as gifting your significant other socks and underwear) can impact your decision-making process. "Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making", and while adding socks and underwear to the list of decisions I make throughout the day isn't going to "break-the-bank" it's a clear case of death-by-a-thousand-cuts.

    In summary; be cognisant of what you spend your decision budget on. Periodically review decisions that you have to make regularly to see if they can be deferred, delegated, automated, shared, or discarded entirely. It could be something as challenging as determining the appropriate mix of skill-sets required for a new agile squad or it could be as mundane as deciding what socks and underwear you want to wear.