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How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

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.

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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:

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 ...
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.

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.

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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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The perfect nudge

Nudging involves gently coaxing someone into a decision or behavior. The successful nudge is one that results in the desired choice or behavior without the person realizing any external influenc...

Multiple systems of the mind

The mind seems to involve various simple systems throughout the body that are not always in agreement. Some systems are shortsighted, some care about relationships, and some prioritize the future of humanity.

We are not always aware of each mechanism. Sometimes we make decisions carefully and other times intuitively.

Nudging methods
  • Highlighting the decisions of others you consider influential. Reading “Most other guests staying at this hotel reuse towels,” may make you feel compelled to align your behavior with the majority.
  • “Injunctive norms” focus on how one should act in a particular situation. “Reusing towels meets a high standard for environmental responsibility,” highlights self-imposed standards. It involves a belief about right and wrong that consider abstract concepts.

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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.

Default behaviors

They are actions we make without thinking (habits, routines, compulsions). They control more than 40% of our daily actions.

So if we want to change our lives and be more productive, we...

Inbox always open

This behavior keeps you from dedicating your time to meaningful work. Replying to email may feel productive, but the truth is emails are rarely the most important thing on your to-do list.

So instead of keeping your inbox open all day, change your default behavior to working on emails in batches.

Immediately responding to messages

Real-time communication sets the expectation that you’re always available. And for many of us, our default behaviors support just that.

In order to change this behavior, you need to set expectations on response time. Mute specific channels, get rid of pop-ups, turn off mobile notifications, etc.

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Social norms

People tend to conform to behaviors that are common among other people, even when they know that those people did not make their choices freely, and when the decision does not mirror their own desi...

Common reasons for conforming
  • One common explanation: we that if everyone else is choosing to do one thing, it is probably a good thing to do.
  • Another common explanation: we fear that failing to follow a norm may have negative social consequences.
The self-categorization theory

The idea of the self-categorization theory is that people conform to the norms of certain social groups whenever they have a personal desire to feel like they belong.

It is irrelevant whether a norm reflects people's preference, as long as the behavior is associated with the group.

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Financial Personalities

There are five different types of financial personalities, each of them having their own set of values and outlook towards money:

  • The Big Spenders: The ones who place a high val...
Saving Tips For All Types

After you have figured out your financial personality, here are a few tips to save money:

  • Big Spenders need to consider fun alternatives to the high-purchases with things that cost little but bring real quality and happiness and lead to savings.
  • Savers need to start living their lives, and not live in misery in the present, just for some future security.
  • Shoppers need to recognise the emotions and value in saving money for their future, like a dream home.
  • Debtors need to put some money in automatic saving funds to build their savings.
  • Investors would do great in future, but can also make do with some purchases in the present, striking a balance.
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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The nudge theory
The nudge theory

Behavioral economists show that when humans make quick decisions under pressure, it is based mostly on intuition. They are unconsciously guided by biases and psychological fallacie...

A choice architect

The task of a choice architect is to organize the context in which people make decisions.

Changing the context in which people make choices can make desired behaviors easier to accept.

Intuitive and reflective thinking
  • Intuitive and automatic: This kind of thinking is quick and feels instinctive. You duck when a ball is thrown at you unexpectedly.
  • Reflective and rational: This thinking is deliberate and self-conscious. You use this system when you have to decide which route to take for a trip.

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Goal setting
Goal setting

Is the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve.

Goal setting is not only about choosing the rewards you want to enjoy, but also the costs you are willing to pay t...

The Rudders and Oars Metaphor
It helps clarify the difference between SYSTEMS and GOALS:
  • Your goals are like the rudder on a small rowboat. They set the direction and determine where you go. 
  • If you commit to one goal, then the rudder stays put and you continue moving forward. 
  • If you flip-flop between goals, then the rudder moves all around and it is easy to find yourself rowing in circles.
  • If the rudder is your goal, then the oars are your process for achieving it. While the rudder determines your direction, it is the oars that determine your progress.

Example: If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.

How to Set Goals You'll Actually Follow
  1. Ruthlessly Eliminate Your Goals. Consistently prune and trim down your goals. If you can muster the courage to prune away a few of your goals, then you create the space you need for the remaining goals to fully blossom.
  2. Stack Your Goals. Make a specific plan for when, where and how you will perform this."Networking: After I return from my lunch break, I will send one email to someone I want to meet."
  3. Set an Upper Bound. Don't focus on the minimum threshold. Instead of saying,  “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today.” rather say, “I want to make at least 10 sales calls today, but not more than 20.”

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