Designing Environments for Habits

Design of our environment is a key component in influencing things we do. Let's see how we can utilize this to form good HabitHabit
A habit is a behavior that is performed regularly, sometimes automatically, often unconciously.

Our brain evolved to "implement" habits to reduce the cognitive load of problems that arise over and...
s and break bad ones, using one positive and one negative habit as an example:

Let's use taking supplements as a positive habit. A cue for this habit might be randomly remembering or seeing the bottle with supplements. Negative habit can be scrolling the social media, cue here being a chain of boredom/anxiety, phone in hand, seeing the Reddit app icon.

Now that we are aware of these habits, and of our desire to take supplements more regularly and scroll less on social media, we can start using environment design to help us achieve it.

Just Do It

We could make tremendous improvements on both of these habits by sheer force of will. Let's say we get really motivated to do so: we keep taking supplements every day, and keep ourselves off of social media.

"Just do it" - motivation is a fine approach for a time, but it's hugely overrated when it comes to forming and keeping habits. The reason for this is that habits need to be consistent, while motivation in it's nature is not.

A better alternative

A far better approach to making sure we take supplements every day would be to place them next to (or even on top of) our phone on the bed table alongside a bottle of water.

By doing so, we have designed our environment to work in favor of our habits - we have strengthened the cues for taking the supplements, making sure we don't rely on sheer luck and memory in order to take them.

We can apply a similar strategy for mindlessly scrolling social media. It's kinda hard to wish boredom or anxiety away, but it's not so hard to put your phone in another room while trying to focus, and/or remove the social media icon from your home screen. By doing so, we have by no means disabled ourselves from exercising our bad habit, but we have made it significantly harder to do so, and given ourselves more time to become aware of what's going on.

Habits form because they are easy, canned responses to specific situations. Next time that anxiety hits, instead of (probably without any awareness) reaching out for your phone, opening Reddit and starting to scroll, you now have a lot of friction before this can happen - go to another room, take the phone, search for Reddit and open it. Try doing that without becoming aware of it!

Status: #💡


Part of Make it obvious - First law of behavior changeMake it obvious - First law of behavior change
The first of the [[The Four Laws of Behavior Change]] is to make cues to your desired habits more obvious.

Every [[Habit]] starts with a cue (see [[Habit Feedback Loop]]), so in order to ensure we...