How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

By Dastan | 1% Better | 3 Mar 2020


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.

First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed. — Richard Thaler

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 next to your bed.
  • Always park your car a healthy distance from your destination.
  • Take the stairs when you have a choice.
  • 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 amount.
  • Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Stick to the list when grocery shopping.
  • Go to the supermarket when you are full, such as after a meal.
  • 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. This will help you lose track of time and become more focused.
  • 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.

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