Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Paradox of [Planner] Choice

I'm starting to see a really strong theme emerging in many segments of the filofax fandom community: a lot of choices in terms of what can be used to organise our lives (bound/spiral/rings/size/colour), but the increasing opinion that none of these offers the perfect  solution for YOU.

...even when you find something good for you, which for a brief while you adore, maybe you start to wonder if ‘that other one' could have been better. And it’s a really distressing trend because I’m seeing a lot of frustration on ‘the boards’ and less solutions.

If you feel that this is you, that you are stuck in a 'planner bog' and can see no way out (except perhaps to spend hundreds of dollars on new planner alternatives in the quest for 'the one') then I invite you to watch BarrySchwartz (there’s a key excerpt below):
And then ask yourself: is the planner set up that you have right now ‘enough’? 
Does it work, OCD aside? 

OCD is an overused term...fact is, some people just have the expectation that what they've bought should be perfect and are deeply annoyed when they realise that it has something (little or big) 'wrong' with it. Removing the expectation for "planner perfection" could make your life a lot simpler, happier, and cheaper ^_^

“Escalation of expectations.
This hit me when I went to replace my jeans I wear jeans almost all the time, and there was a time when jeans came in one flavor, and you bought ‘em, and they fit like crap, and they were incredibly uncomfortable, and if you wore them long enough and washed them enough times, they started to fit- feel OK. So I went to replace my jeans after years and years of wearing these old ones, and I said, you know, I want a pair of jeans, here’s my size, and the shopkeeper  said do you want slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit? You want button fly or zipper fly? You want stone washed or acid washed? Do you want ‘em distressed? You want boot cut, you want tapered, blah blah blah… on and on he went. My jaw dropped, and after I recovered I said- I want the kind that used to be the only kind.
He had no idea what that was, so I spent an hour trying on all these damn jeans, and I walked out of the store - true - with the best fitting jeans I had ever had. I did better. All this choice made it possible for me to do better. But- I felt worse.
Why? I wrote a whole book to try to explain this to myself. The reason is- The reason I felt worse is that with all of these options available, my expectations about how good a pair of jeans should be went up. I had very low expectations- I had no particular expectations when they only came in one flavor. When they came in 100 flavors, dammit, one of them should’ve been perfect. And what I got was good, but it wasn’t perfect. And so I compared what I got to what I expected, and what I got was disappointing in comparison to what I expected.
Adding options to people’s lives can’t help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be. And what that’s gonna produce is less satisfaction with results, even when they’re good results. -- Barry Schwartz, in a TED talk on the Paradox of Choice.