On by default

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Upload Date 17.5.2019
Blog Post Author Kilian Mehringer
Job Description 3D Artist, Software Engineer
Co Authors

"On by default" Use your laziness to increase productivity


How many privacy settings in your Facebook account are still on default? Did you really want to have another year of amazon prime or was it just extended by default? How many email news letter of companies you don't care about do you receive every day because the I want to get notified when ever there are new deals check box was checked by default?

Large companies already know how to abuse this laziness of our human brain. But why don't we use it for our self. There are some simple ways to increase productivity and start a successful way of self improving by exploiting this lazy behavior patterns to form new easy to maintain positive habits.

The way of least resistance:

The human brain follows some really easy patterns. Most of the time it will automatically choose the way of least resistance. This kind of decision making can be great for solving small problems, surviving work days and making time-critical decisions in traffic. But what if you want to got to the gym every morning before work, write a book in your free-time or just getting your paper work done before the tax office will send you the first warning. For this type of stuff the way of least resistance is most of the time just ignoring it, not going to the gym and go back to bed. Watching Netflix and talking your self into believing that it is some kind of research for your big book project you will start writing on next weekend, when you got enough inspiration from watching Gilmore girls. And we all know the list of things to do instead of doing paper work is almost infinitely long...

The problem with this actions is that we use them by default. Its the same with having the use your data for analysis option in Facebook on by default. Its extremely unlikely for users to turn it off by them self's, because its more easy to not care about it. On the other hand it would be even more unlikely for users to go in the options menu and turn this option on if it was switched off by default. This means the default state or action already existing is way more important and more likely to be used than the none default action regardless the outcome of it. So if there is a good and a bad action ignoring the fact of being good or bad for us the default action will make the race most of the time. **On or Off by default matters! **

For years I had a really bad default action installed in my daily routine: When ever I came home in the evening I opened YouTube on my laptop and watched the first somehow interesting looking video in my abo box. And after this one the next and the next and hours later I realized that I did nothing than watching useless videos the whole evening. This was my default routine for the end of a work day. What if my default routine would be something more productive or something that helps me calm down without feeling like I was wasting my time.

The idea is to set something else, something more useful, something that brings you more joy as your default for certain actions in your life. This way you don't have to tell you that what your doing is bad and actively do something else every time you catch yourself falling back into this bad habits. Because your habit is something good.

My method to install new default actions in my life

For this to work we can exploit the lazy behavior of our brain to automatically choose the way of least resistance. The first step is to remove everything that might bring you into your old bad default actions. Remove the Netflix app from your phone. Keep your desk clean from stuff that might distract you while your doing paper work. And yes not just your real desk, also clean your virtual desktop. Remove all the games and shortcuts to software and websites that look so promising to make you feel better when ever you are working on other more boring things.

And now you are ready to add your new default action. You can do this by creating barriers around the bad habits so they become harder to fall back to. And the most important thing is, make it easier to act the way you want to act in the future in this moments. Your brain will automatically do the right thing. And after a month of repeating this process your new default action should be implemented successfully.

As an example lets go with my old bad habit of watching YouTube videos by default every evening. There is nothing bad about watching some great Ted talks on YouTube. But this useless time killing stuff I was watching in the evening when I was exhausted was a bad habit. To get rid of this habit and install a new one I deleted the Wifi password from my laptop. This way I had to go to my desktop pc and watch videos there. But watching videos while sitting on a chair instead of lying in my bed with the laptop was less attractive to me and resulted in much shorter watch times.

The next step was talking my brain into the habit to open up one of the projects I'm working on at the moment when ever I started my pc. Just opening it, this default action was not bound on working a single second in this project I could decide to close it instantly after it was loaded and go to YouTube and start watching videos again. And most of the time without forcing it. I found myself working on the project for multiple hours in the evening instead of watching useless videos without feeling stressed or forced to do so.

The same works with waking up early. Take your phone and put it on to your desk instead of having it next to your bed. You have to get out of bed in the morning to turn off the alarm. Next step is only to go into the shower. After showering you can go back to bed immediately and sleep the whole day if you want to. This way its much less stressing and your not forcing yourself to wake up and be productive early every day. Your just forcing yourself to shower before you go back to bed. With this behavior, 95% of the time you will step out of the shower without the slightest clue why your brain wanted to get back in bed so badly just 10 minutes ago and you will be able to stay awake for the rest of the day without any sign of tiredness.

So to put it together here is a list of the steps I take to implement a new default action in my life:

Just take this as a new idea to think about your actions. Try to find this bad default actions and replace them with good ones by making them easier for you to follow them even if its just a small first step of a new habit. And most importantly go to Facebook and look at your default privacy settings.

I really don't know what this post is, ui design, biohacking, minimalism, life changes, behavior paterns, psychology, neurons, good habits, live better life, planing, life style, motivation, productivity, early bird