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How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

https://www.dansilvestre.com/make-smarter-decisions/

dansilvestre.com

8

Key Ideas

Default choices

90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.

To make smarter choices, design smarter defaults. And habits can be developed by shaping the invisible defaults of your life.

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.

Richard Thaler

Richard Thaler

“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 

Eat healthier

  • Don't keep in the house food that isn’t on your diet or you know is unhealthy.
  • Buy items from the outer edges of the grocery store. The aisles are usually used for junk and processed foods.
  • Trick your brain into eating less by using smaller plates and bowls.
  • Plan and prep your meals in advance so you always know what to eat each day.

Exercise more

  • Use a gym partner to create accountability and make sure you exercise.
  • Lay out your workout clothes the night before and put them in a visible place.
  • Park your car at a healthy distance from your destination.
  • Take the stairs when you can.
  • Stand up during meetings at work.

Spend less

  • Use cash for your daily expenses by default.
  • Never buy something on impulse. Think about how many hours it took you to earn that money.
  • Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Stick to the list when grocery shopping.
  • Go to the supermarket when you are full.
  • Cancel unused subscriptions and everything you can live without.

Deep Work

  • Work in full-screen mode to remove all distractions and focus on the task at hand.
  • Always wear headphones.
  • Plan your entire week on Sunday.
  • Listen to the same song on repeat. It help you lose track of time and focus on your task.
  • Design productivity spaces for different types of work.

Productivity

  • Clean your desk at the end of the day.
  • To avoid decision fatigue early in the morning, choose all your outfits for the week on Sunday night.
  • Use the 2-minute rule: if it can be done in 2 minutes, just do it; if it takes more than two minutes, start it.
  • Only use a handful of productivity apps to get things done.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Default Choice
The Default Choice

While prompted to make a decision with a given set of options, a person has the freedom to refuse to actively make a choice.

The decision-making process of the person is affected by the

How Economic Incentives Affect Our Choices

If a person is told about the economic incentives of their selection, they are more likely to make an active choice.

If the person is told about the pros and cons of their decision, they have a logical reason to make the desired choice, as it can minimize any potential loss.

Rewards And Penalties

Organizations need to understand when to provide a reward to the person making the choice to promote active choice-making, or to initiate a penalty to make them provide a concrete answer.

Maximization

Also known as Fear of Better Options (F.O.B.O.), is the relentless researching of all possible options for fear that you’ll miss out on the “best” one.

Though maximizers tend to make b...

Mostly Fine Decision (MFD)

Your M.F.D. is the minimum outcome you’re willing to accept for a decision.

It’s the outcome you’d be fine with, even if it’s not the absolute best possibility.

Milton Friedman

"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas a..."

Milton Friedman
Think in Years, Not Days

Before jumping to a conclusion, think about the long-term consequences of your decision.

We may respect those able to fling themselves into a hard problem and make a quick choice with seemingly little thought, but making a meaningful decision needs to be done with care for the long-term effects.

Understand Decision Fatigue

It’s important to be aware of what state of mind you’re in before tackling a hard choice.

Decision fatigue happens when the mental energy required to weigh the tradeoffs of our decision becomes too much for us to handle. 

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Default options

Deciding is too much effort so we’re likely to just stick with the default or safer option if it’s already been chosen for us. 

When we get offered too many choices, the same...

Best decision making happens in the morning

This is when serotonin is at it’s natural high, which helps to calm our brain. Thus, we feel less risk averse and so we can face risks and make harder choices.

The part our bodies play in decision-making

If we’re feeling hunger, thirst or sexual desire, that can actually spill over into the decision areas of our brains, making us feel more desire for big rewards when we make choices. 

This can lead us to make higher-risk choices and to want for more.

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Desire or Fear

When you consider your decisions, are you motivated by desire or fear?

  • If you are motivated by desire, you will tend to see the positive in every situation. You...
Internal or External

When you consider making a decision, who do you turn to?

  • If you seek your point of reference internally, you will make the decision for yourself.
  • If you seek your point of reference externally, you will reach out to people for their feedback and validation.
Possibility or Necessity

What drives you in your work?

  • If you are a possibilities person, you focus on the possible choices in a situation. You are likely curious about the potential your job has for growth.
  • If you are a necessity person, you are content not to think outside the box. You prefer being shown what to do and enjoy knowing how to do your tasks well.

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To-Do Lists

Your to-do list can be a tool that guides you through your work, or it can be a big fat pillar of undone time bombs taunting you and your unproductive inadequacy.

If the instructions are c...

The two modes
At any point during the workday, you are in one of these modes:
  • When a project or task comes up, the steps you need to take start to form in your mind. Now you're in thinking/Boss mode. 
  • Your to-do list is a collection of those orders, which your Assistant personality will later pick up and do.
Write down the instructions in such a way that your Assistant self can just do them without having to think - or stress. 
Put Items That You're Definitely Doing

Instead of letting tasks you're not quite committed to loiter on your to-do list until you're sick of looking at them, move them off to a separate list, a holding area for Someday/Maybe items. 

Only concrete actions you're committed to completing should live on your to-do list.

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Position of products influences our decision of buying
We don't just buy products because of what they are, but we often buy them because of where they are. For example, items on store shelves that are at eye level tend to be purchased more than items on ...

Optimize for defaultsShift your environment so that the good behaviors are easier and the bad behaviors are harder.

Optimize for defaultsShift your environment so that the good behaviors are easier and the bad behaviors are harder.

Default decisions and their influence

Although we usually have the freedom to make a wide range of choices at any given moment, we often make decisions based on the environment we find ourselves in:

  • If you sleep with your phone next to your bed, then checking social media and email as soon as you wake up is likely to be the default decision.
  • If you keep a water bottle with you throughout the day, then drinking water rather than soda is more likely to be the default decision.

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