November 23, 2020 by Dymphna

T-Bomb: A simple hack for changing your flows

Truth Bomb Tuesday: Could you make laziness a super-power?

To reinvent yourself, try introducing the perfect amount of friction.

Imagine a supermarket.

Walk into almost any supermarket and what section do you walk into?

Fresh fruit and vegetables.

Why is that?

It’s certainly not because the optimal way to shop is to buy all your soft squooshy stuff first, and then pile tin cans and glass jars on top of it.

It’s actually the exactly wrong order to do your shopping in.

So why do supermarkets organise themselves this way?

They’re trying to take advantage of something called “decision fatigue.”

The idea is that after you’ve made 100 micro choices over which carrots to get, or which type of apples to buy etc, your decision muscle is tired.

And when your decision muscle is tired, you make worse decisions. You might decided to splash out on the premium brand of ice cream. Or you might decide to splash out on icecream even though you promised yourself an hour ago you wouldn’t.

This is exactly what the supermarkets want you to do. They don’t want you impulse buying an extra banana. They want you impulse buying high-ticket items like ice-cream and plush toys.

And from your perspective, it’s terrible. You spent half an hour in the fruit and veg section to save yourself 75 cents, only to blow $20 on a hair dryer you didn’t actually need.

And all your fruit and veg are squashed as well.

Now all you have to do to foil their cunning plan is to break right as soon as you enter.

But almost no one does?


Because there is the perfect amount of friction there.

You’ve already started sizing up the apples, so it’s just easier to go there. Everyone else is going that way too. The turn you have to make is also just kinda sharp, and is a bit counter-intuitive in a keep-left culture.

And so you keep left. You go with the flow.

The supermarkets don’t make it impossible for you. They don’t have a barrier there, or someone in a high-vis vest directing traffic.

But they don’t have to. All they have to do is introduce enough friction to make keeping-left the easiest thing to do.

And we always do what’s easiest.

So, what do we do with this?

Well, use going to the shops as an opportunity to expresses you rebellious and independent spirit.

There’s that.

But also recognise that changing yourself – reinventing yourself even – might be as simple as introducing just the right amount of friction.

Over-eating? Put a little passcode lock on the fridge door that forces you to have a moment before you open it.

Want to take more vitamins? Keep them sitting on your desk while you work so it’s just too easy to pop one down.

Want to drink less? Keep the booze on a top shelf where you have to use the step-ladder to access it.

Just a little bit of friction might be all you need to get you to go in the direction that you want.

It’s not radical. It’s not heroic.

It’s just consciously using the human tendency to go with the flow.

So make the most of it.

Establish your own flows, and go wherever you want.