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Reduce Friction – Nerdful Mind #49

December 20, 2020 by Simon Mannes

How hard is it to do what you want?

If you want to eat a sugary snack, do you have it within arm's reach? Or would you need to go to the nearest supermarket to buy one?

We call this concept of how hard or easy it is to do something friction. And it is an important part of our habits. All habits go through the steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

If you're adding friction to an activity, you make it more difficult. And you're making it less attractive because the ratio of effort to reward becomes worse. This makes it less likely that you'll to it.

Examples for adding friction:

  • Buy less sweets, so you have to go to the store for more
  • Remove your social media apps from your phone
  • Want to buy something expensive? Write it down and wait for a week. Do you still want to buy it?

If you're removing friction from an activity, you're making it easier and more attractive, because you reduce the time requirements and the mental load.

Examples for removing friction:

  • Get your sport clothes ready the night before
  • Set up automatic transfers from your primary bank account to your savings account

You certainly have habits you would love to do more, and others you'd like to let go. Instead of relying on willpower, find ways to introduce or remove friction.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.” – Octavia Butler

Reading Recommendations

The Simple Guide to Creating Habits for a Great Year

“The best way to do that is not by making resolutions, but by creating habits that will stick for the long term. If you want to run a marathon, form the habit of running. If you want to write a novel, form the writing habit. If you want to be more mindful, form the habit of meditation.”

The Nesting Problem for Theories of Consciousness

"In 2016, Tomer Fekete, Cees Van Leeuwen, and Shimon Edelman articulated a general problem for computational theories of consciousness, which they called the Boundary Problem. The problem extends to most mainstream functional or biological theories of consciousness, and I will call it the Nesting Problem.”

Cohesion - The cornerstone of Software Design

“Depending on the type of software you are writing, you will may need to compromise a bit. Although we should always strive to have our code at the highest level of cohesion, sometimes that may make the code look unnatural. There is a difference between being unaware of design principles and consciously not following a design principle in a given context. I don't write my code with the goal that it should satisfy every single design principle out there but I always try to have a good reason every time I decide not to follow certain principles.”

Weekly Mindfulness Practice

If you're using a computer or smartphone, take one conscious breath every time before opening a new browser tab or app.

You may find yourself being more focused on your tasks, just by adding the friction of one breath and by becoming more present.

End Note

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Have a great week


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