ABCs – Do You Like Options or Prefer Procedures?


Do you prefer to have lots of choice and options or that overwhelms and you prefer less choice and a procedure to follow?

Options and Procedures is one of the NLP meta programs – which in a way can be described as habits of thought – the way we think and act habitually.

This operational style plays a big influence on the size of wardrobe you’re happy with.  It will mean that you may love only owning a couple of small wardrobe capsules and wearing them, or it will make the thought of a wardrobe capsule as something that is stifling and constraining to you.

It influences how you behave.  You may prefer to follow a set of rules or procedure, or you may prefer to make things up as you go along.  Do you look for all the different ways of doing something, or do you just want the one right way?

Whether you’re more options based or prefer procedures will influence how you impart information too!

Options Preference

  • Like many options (they don’t want a small capsule wardrobe, except for travel where it gives them the ability to mix and match, even then they want to take extra options just in case they change their mood and mind)
  • May jump around from point to point in a conversation.  Not always linear (this drives procedures preference people crazy)
  • Are great at seeing all the possibilities, they don’t usually believe there is just one ‘right’ way of doing something
  • May not always finish what they start as they move onto something new before they finish
  • Will create procedures for others (but may not follow them themselves)
  • Hate to be boxed in and will feel really uncomfortable physically and emotionally if you try to “box them in” to any one category of anything!
  • May give you a list of bullet points as an answer when asked a question about a “thing”
  • Make a vague plan but go with the flow or change their mind if they don’t feel like following the plan


Procedures Preference

  • Like process and procedures – prefer to follow a predefined set of steps (and isn’t this what all our habits are already?)
  • Will tell you information in a linear fashion, but always from the beginning, if you interrupt they will have to go back to the beginning again (drives Options people crazy)
  • Like to know the rules and follow them to the letter
  • Tend to finish what they start – they see things right through to the end
  • Great at following directions or giving street directions
  • Can get stressed or confused if they are interrupted
  • Want to be boxed in and may like a “uniform” and want a minimal wardrobe, the want to know their rules and will apply them dilligently
  • Will tell you a back story about a”thing” when you ask them a question
  • Make a plan and stick to it

Now you can see that you may fall at one end of the spectrum or the other, or maybe you are more balanced in between doing some of both.

I know I’m highly Options and I love creating procedures for others, but like to break the rules for myself!    I know I have physical reactions when I’m told I have to narrow down choices – I want more choice not less.  I want options, options, options.  I do know for others though who are procedures driven, options are completely overwhelming.  My mother mentioned to me that she never shops in the department stores as there are just too many options and she can’t make any decisions.

One of the reasons I like to live in a large city is all the options on my doorstep.  For me even if I don’t partake of them, I like having the option to do so when the mood strikes me.  Living in a small a small country town (which I did for a short while) drove me nuts!  I felt so constrained and bored by the lack of options.

Knowing this meta-program is really handy as it helps you understand where other people are coming from.  I know my Dad is pure procedures (in fact he’s so procedures he doesn’t believe options people exist).  You ask him the time and he’ll tell you how to build a watch.  If you interrupt him, it’s always back to the begging of the story (so I’ve learned, never interrupt him).

Are you options or procedures?  Does understanding these preferences start to explain your own behaviour as well as those around  you?


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  • I have a very “Options” open thought process. Rules, procedures, and limits give me claustrophobia. The description of the Options thought process is accurate. I could probably add a few more qualities to the list. Thanks for posting and keeping sharing your own options style thought process. . It is always good to know there are others who are similar to us and get how we think.

  • I’ve always been a rule follower, and feel best with a set of guidelines. I guess that’s why I thrived with classical piano lessons given by a strict teacher, while many others don’t respond well to that style of teaching. I know because I taught piano for several decades and had to change my teaching style to suit each individual student. Anyway, I do see things through to the end and get them done. Is this why I like style rules so much?

  • Very interesting! I fall in between the camps, depending on what we are discussing, clothes, food, films, etc. But I realize that over the years, I am less enamored of options, and the baggage that comes with making them! So now, I prefer to save my brain space and time on options that really matter to me, and go for procedures on all the other stuff…

    • I am also in different camps depending on the topics. I really like this way of thinking about our differences – it drives my husband crazy when I don’t follow a recipe exactly, for example. I’m mostly oriented to option but in the case of my wardrobe, I prefer to spend my mental time and money elsewhere, so limited options work better (in this sense the limitations free me to concentrate on other things). But usually, I create plans and procedures which I then use as rough guides. Hmmm – thanks for the interesting food for thought!

  • Options all the way! There is no way i will ever travel light — even if it’s just for overnight I throw in a couple of extra things “just in case”. After all, how can I be sure what I’m going to feel like wearing? My husband claims he hasn’t eaten the same meal twice in 38 years of marriage — that’s not true of course, I do have staples I come back to, but I’m always tweaking and rearranging things.

    • Haha, your husband’s so incredibly lucky, isn’t he!? Unless he actually wants to eat something again and again. My friend’s husband is a great cook and he alters the recipes so much that they can never be recreated — he just can’t remember. This tends to annoy her, as she’d really like him to repeat some of the better meals!

      I never travel lightly, either, and it boggles my friends’ minds as to how much I can squeeze into a bag/suitcase. They carry the same sized suitcase as me and “have nothing to wear”, while I whip out one outfit after the other. The secret lies in filling the nooks and crannies…

      Options are the best in all aspects of life and they never stress me out, only give me lots of energy and creative flow. Though I’m highly an options person, I also love procedures in business and to get stuff done, and I always see a project through. I strongly believe in getting things done, as opposed to just sitting there talking about them at great lengths, like some options people seem to love. I tend to see a question from all sides and can therefore often not give a straight answer. And people who take forever to finish a story and restart from the beginning drive me crazy! 😉

      Anett | Tall Girl’s Fashion

  • So many topics you write on are so eye-opening for me. At so many points throughout my life people have called me Bohemian. Though I’m not. I lived through the 60’s without taking drugs though everyone around me was. I like to be clear-headed. I really respond to knowing or trying to discern what the “rules” are. My family were immigrants and I’m first generation American. I watched an incredible amount of tv, including lots of old movies, trying to figure out what was going on around me that my parents couldn’t tell me about. I remember watching Father Knows Best and he went to the office. I asked my father, who had owned a restaurant and was then a chicken farmer, what people did at an office. He couldn’t tell me.

    The way I handled rules/procedures was that when I got a hint that a rule could be abrogated and it was something that appealed to me, I would then go whole hog. In college, in the 60’s, a girl in the dorm went home for the weekend to New York City and came back wearing a miniskirt. I was at an ivy school and no one was wearing mini skirts. But people in Manhattan were. I went right to my wardrobe and shortened every skirt I had. Doubtless plenty of folks stared at me wearing them but I didn’t notice because I felt it was Okay Now.

    Every once in a while I take shopping breaks for a month or the rest of a season. The reason is never anything to do with finances but is because I come to a tipping point where I feel I now have “too many good choices.” And I certainly don’t then want to bring in yet more good choices/options.

    And unlike folks who put things off, like household chores, I get up early and get right to them and feel energized ticking them off. I don’t like doing them but since they have to be done, I find it satisfying putting them behind me. I like *knowing what to do* to feel productive. Normally, I’m very analytical and like synthesizing ideas, so plain ol’ physical tasks that I have to get through is very comforting. They’re so cut and dried. 😀

    And I have trouble knowing how to relax. I remember taking a yoga class that ended with just lying there and relaxing your muscles and your mind and I swear it gave me the jitters. 😀

  • I think I’m a little of both… and that’s frustrating! I actually also like the idea of wardrobe capsules but I would like to have like 5-7 of them. On the flip side I like things step by step in an orderly fashion.

    I’m this:

    ■Like many options (they don’t want a small capsule wardrobe, except for travel where it gives them the ability to mix and match, even then they want to take extra options just in case they change their mood and mind)
    ■May jump around from point to point in a conversation. Not always linear (this drives procedures preference people crazy)
    ■May not always finish what they start as they move onto something new before they finish
    ■Will create procedures for others (but may not follow them themselves)

    And this:

    ■Like process and procedures – prefer to follow a predefined set of steps
    ■Tend to finish what they start – they see things right through to the end
    ■Great at following directions or giving street directions
    ■Can get stressed or confused if they are interrupted
    ■Will tell you a back story about a”thing” when you ask them a question
    ■Make a plan and stick to it

  • I’m such an options person, lol! Love my “wall of scarves” and my huge jewelry box (which has taken over my living room). I also love knowing the rules, so I can break them intelligently!

  • I’m a procedures person, but I also have ADHD, so I have a hard time finishing what I start or remembering rules. So should I dress for the way I am by myself or my issues?

    • HI Kristina, I’m not a psychologist and have no experience with ADHD so it’s not something I can tell you. In my experience, you need to figure out what works for you. Sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer.

    • Kristina, I’m ADD, too, and very procedural at the same time–fitting both categories throughout my day. I find too many options will sort of paralyze me at times with choosing my outfit, so having most everything in neutrals with many many tees/tops/scarves in every cool shade of the rainbow works best for me. Everything goes together and the only choice I have to make is which pop of color I feel like wearing that day. People think I have a huge wardrobe, but it’s just having all the colors. I photo each outfit I wear each day (other than stay at home jeans/tops) and keep the picture in a digital journal (Cozi calendar app) so I don’t repeat the same outfit too often for recurring activities–like Thursdays at church with a group of ladies folding the Sunday bulletins. I may refer back to those outfits to wear other plsces–girls get togethers or church services, for example–since i don’t see all of them every week. Helps me a lot to find a “tried” outfit but spread that outfit around my activities as well..

  • I am definitely an options person and when I did the 21 steps I felt a boxed in feeling with all the comments and rigorous exactions going on there…. I had this explained years ago by a counsellor who told me that procedural persons cannot handle a personality like mine as they feel they are superior and he told me I was born into a highly procedural family. Generally procedural people get so annoyed with options people not falling into line with their thinking they are often the ones who label them black and white and can’t handle them. I see this in action all the time.

  • Procedures is my preferred closet style. I’ve finally come around to the uniform basis in that I’m using the best silhouettes for my body type. I am a rectangular.

    90% of my outfits are Skinny Jean / Lightweight Sweater / Classic Cut Outerwear.

    My universal footwear includes tall boots, short booties, classic black pump, neutral color flat and grey and black tennis shoe.

  • I really enjoyed this article. If I had been asked straight out if I was options or procedures I would have said procedures. But I am actually fully in the options category! So funny. In my job I am responsible for’writing processes and procedures and I love it, and apply none of them to myself. I answer everything in bullets – no backstories – which is why I thought I was not an options person. I never make the same meal 2x cos I hate following recipes (that I wrote lol). Hubby is full on procedures so I will adapt how I communicate now

  • I have never heard of this before and I love it. I am completely Options oriented and I also have ADHD, which ties in. I thrive when I have a schedule to follow but have difficulty creating one for myself as I want to do all the things. Or keeping to it.

    I’m researching capsule wardrobes as I think it’s a smart way to go. Seeing you can have multiple capsules fulfills the need for options and creativity but also provides a framework.

    I love your blog.

  • Originally I would have said I’m an options person, especially since I’m an ISFP in Myers Briggs and “should” be more options, but I think I’m more of a flexible procedures person. I can get stressed out by options if they are too numerous. Being in a tight procedure can be stifling too, but overall, I like to have a loose plan. I have been paring down my wardrobe to be more minimalist and simple, because the sheer number of items was making it hard for me to get dressed each morning. I feel more liberated with a smaller number of choices, and I feel more creative when I have to combine things within a smaller framework. I like making my accessories my options, having a collection of scarves, jewelry, and hats with a base of simple clothing is a lot of fun for me.

  • I was SO happy when I first read this article (already a long time ago but I just ran into it again)! After years of trying, finally I understood why the capsule wardrobe didn’t work out for me and I ended up with more clothes…. I am an options girl 🙂 . And I also live in a big city because just like you, I like all the possibilities provided!
    My entire wardrobe is in the closet now and every month I make a clothingrack for that month with as many clothes that fit on the rack. I don’t count, but it is probably about 30. If I really need something extra I can just get it from the big wardrobe. This seems to work well for me. It is easy and quick to get dressed and when looking at the selection it always makes me feel happy.

  • I am disorganized, but always wanting to be more organized. I love options, but then find myself overwhelmed by those options and only reaching for the same few outfits from my closet (or, more likely, my laundry basket). I think I am mostly a procedures person who gets a fit of option-itis every once in a while 🙂

    • You may find that decluttering your wardrobe helps you see the options you have – it can be very easy to just wear the same thing over and over when there is too much choice that overwhelms!

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