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Make it easy to do what’s good for you

April 22 2016 – 10:03am

Every once in awhile, I shuffle around the icons on my iPhone’s home screen. I used to think about what apps I used most, but the other day, I realized that’s the completely wrong way to think about it.

If you’re like most people these days, you have some digital habits that you’d rather break. You find yourself uselessly scrolling on Facebook, you get into arguments on Twitter, or, even while reading this very article, you might be thinking about what you should be doing instead.

Our brains are dumb. They have a very finite amount of energy which can be used toward doing what we intend to do. But one shiny object on the edge of our field of vision, or a drop in blood sugar can derail us completely.

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You can take advantage of this mental laziness. If you design your world to make it hard to do things that are bad for you, and easy to do things that are good for you, your behavior will shape to that design.

That’s why, this time, instead of thinking about what apps I used most, I thought about which apps would be good for me to use. Here’s what I came up with:

 iphone-home-screen

The rest of my screen is filled up with things that are practical for me to use, but that have no chance of distracting me: Uber, Google Translate, & Google Calendar, for example.

I hid Facebook and Twitter in a little folder somewhere on a later screen. I don’t even know where they are. I have to search just to open either of them. This doesn’t totally prevent me from using them, but it prevents me from using them without consciously intending to, which cues me to set an intention for my session, rather than just using them mindlessly.

What would you put on your home screen? In what ways have you shaped your world to make it easy to do what’s good for you?

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This post is filed under Life Hacks.