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6 Ways Your Behavior Is Being Controlled

6 Ways Your Behavior Is Being Controlled


Do you think you are in control of your decisions? If you’re like most people, the natural answer is, “Of course.  While I may regret some, I definitely decided to make them at the time.” I hate to tell you this, but odds are that you are like the rest of humanity in that your decisions are more determined by your surroundings than by you.

We are bombarded with stimuli and thousands of decisions to make every day. Starting from when we wake up, we decided when to set our alarm, when to actually move out of bed, what to put on, what to eat… the list is nearly infinite. Even when we decide not do something, that’s also a decision. Clearly, it is more efficient for everyday actions to be put on automatic and become routines, but can some of these mental shortcuts carry over to influence bigger decisions? The answer is yes, and here are some of the most common ways how.

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1. Power of defaults, also known as the status quo bias

The default bias is a powerful psychological function. Because people tend to exhibit inertia, especially with more complex decisions, the default mode usually prevails. Whether it be the advanced settings on your laptop or iphone, a retirement savings plan, or a trade-off between reliability and rates, people overwhelmingly stick with the default, status quo, options. Some argue that as choices get more complex and people know less about the options, they don’t feel competent enough to switch from the default. However, even with basic tasks such as scrolling to the bottom of an e-mail to click “unsubscribe” to another spam e-mail, people are hesitant to take action, and thus continue to be bombarded by unwanted e-mail blasts. Think: Are you sticking with the default because its the best decision or just because it’s the easiest?

2. Forced functions

Forcing function means things are designed in a way such that people have to take certain actions in order to get what they want. Examples include having to take your card out of an ATM machine before receiving your money, having different sized medical delivery ports for different drugs, or having the car ding until you put your seat belt on. These are usually used to positively influence behavior by ensuring you do something to get the right result. Think: How can you take advantage of this? Maybe putting your phone on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn the alarm off.

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3. N effect

In the journal paper, “The N-Effect: More Competitors, Less Competition,” authors Garcia and Tor found that when the number of competitors increases, people actually perform worse. For example, if you’re entering a race with thousands of other people, you may think there’s no chance of winning and not try as hard as if it were a race with only 50 people. Think: Next time your competing against a large group, remember most people aren’t giving their all, so if you do, you could have an extra advantage.

4. Relativity

Changing peoples’ anchor, or first piece of information, has huge effects on how they view everything else. Dan Ariely, in his book “Predictably Irrational” gives an example with the introduction of the Williams- Sonoma bread machines. When they first introduced them, people were hesitant to pay a premium for these machines; however, when they later introduced a model that was 50% more expensive, the first bread machines seemed like a bargain and sales shot up. Think: Are you actually getting a good deal or did something prior prime you to think that way?

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5. Hawthorne effect

The Hawthorne effect suggests that peoples’ productivity changes with environmental changes. While there is a bit of controversy surrounding the suggestion, the original study by Landsberger revealed that changing (whether increasing or decreasing) the lighting in a factory increased workers productivity. This could be because they felt watched when changes occurred, but despite the reason, peoples’ productivity tends to increase with environmental change and novelty. Think: How can you change your work environment in small ways to become more productive?

6. State/ Context dependent memory

Ever had a difficult time with recall? Turns out the state and context in which you learned that information is the most ideal one for recalling it. If you were drunk when you learned somebody’s name, you may have an easier time remembering it when you’re drunk again. Interestingly, but maybe not as applicable, if you learn information underwater, you’re more likely to recall it underwater, and if you learn it on land, you are more likely to recall it on land. Think: What type of environment will I need to recall this information?

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Sources:

Raymond S. Hartman, Michael J. Doane and Chi-Keung Woo. “Consumer Relation and Status Quo”
The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 106, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 141-162
Garcia, Stephen M. “The N-Effect: More Competitors, Less Competition.” Psychological Science 20.7 (2009): 871-77. JSTOR. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
“Nudge” by Richard Thaler
“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely

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Published on October 16, 2020

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

Sunday’s are amazing days. For most of us, Sunday’s are a day of rest — a chance to relax, spend time with our family and friends and step away from work. Yet, for many people, Sunday’s can be a day of gloom. The thought of having to go back to work the next day and rejoin the hustle and bustle of everyday working life creates a dark cloud over a day that should be a joy.

With the right approach, though, Sunday’s can be days of rejuvenation—a chance to recharge our batteries—and to set ourselves up for a fantastic week. It is just a matter of the way you look at Sundays.

Sunday’s give me a chance to take stock of how my week has gone and decide what I want to achieve the following week. Each Sunday allows me to step back from the everyday grind and to measure my progress against the plan I had for the week and to reset that plan to make the next week even better.

Here are 13 ways you can turn Sunday’s into amazingly productive days:

1. Wake up at Your Normal Time

I grew up thinking Sunday’s were a great day to ‘catch-up on my sleep’. The problem here is by over-sleeping on a Sunday, you often find it difficult to get to sleep Sunday night and that begins the cycle of sleep debt you want to avoid.[1]

Waking up at your normal time maintains regular sleep patterns and this helps to make sure your sleep schedule is consistent throughout the week. When you are in a perpetual sleep debt all week, your productivity will sink. Ensuring you have a good night sleep every night, keeps you in a highly productive state.

2. Start the Day With “Me-Time”

“Me-time” is time you give to yourself.[2] It’s time you can spend doing all the things you love doing without the fear of being interrupted. That could be exercise, reading, going for a long walk or meditation.

Before Google and smartphones, people in the U.K. used to wake up on a Sunday morning, take a short walk to the local newsagent to buy the Sunday papers. The Sunday papers had all sort of supplements on books, lifestyle, gardening and fashion.

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You would get home, settle into your favourite armchair and spend an hour or two reading through all these supplements. For me, I would put on some relaxing music and just relax with a nice cup of tea. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning. No stress, no pressure, just me and the Sunday papers.

Decide what you want to do with your Sunday morning, make sure it is focused on you and start this week. You will thank yourself for it.

3. Do Some Exercise

Now, this does not mean you go out and do a 10-mile run or spend one or two hours in the gym. What this means is to get outside and move.

Our lifestyles today have taken away a lot of natural movement. This has become particularly prominent this year with many of us having to work from home. Those walks to the bus stop, train station and the office have gone. Now we get up, move from one room to another, sit down and start work.

Sunday’s give you a chance to move. Take that opportunity. Get yourself outside for an hour or two. Enjoy nature. Go with your family or friends and just have a relaxing hour or two in nature. This is possibly one of the best ways to reduce stress, get some healthy exercise and set yourself up for a wonderful week.

4. Plan the Day

Not having a plan for the day will leave you at the mercy of outside events. Instead, decide on Saturday evening what you will do the next day. Make sure you wake up at your normal time, indulge in your favourite morning drink and start your day.

Having no plan for the day, will likely result in you waking up late, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep the next evening and you will waste the opportunity to make the day count.

Your plan does not have to be too detailed. Something similar to:

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  • Wake up and make coffee
  • Put on some great music
  • Sit down and enjoy coffee
  • Take a 2-hour walk
  • Read for an hour or two
  • Spend some time with the kids

Just make sure you have a rough plan for the day, but keep things as flexible as possible.

5. Watch a Sports Game

This is a great way to get yourself away from thinking about work and your troubles. I’m a big rugby and motorsport fan and even in these difficult pandemic times, there are plenty of sports events I can watch on YouTube.

Whatever sport you enjoy, take some time on Sunday to watch a game. Just getting into the game, enjoying the skills on show and marvelling at the professionalism removes you from your everyday world for a while. It’s a great way to give your brain some much-needed relaxation and provides a wonderful distraction from your everyday normal life.

6. Make Sure You Do Something Different

Doing the same things day after day will eventually turn every day into a grind. You want to be looking forward to your Sunday’s. Plan to go out for a drive in the countryside, or a walk in an unfamiliar park, or go to the cinema or an outside concert.

Do anything that breaks up your routine. Like watching a sports game, it takes you away from the normal everyday life you lead and gives you something refreshingly different to enjoy and experience.

7. Clean Up

I know, most people hate doing house chores but having a clean, ordered home does wonders for your overall mental wellbeing. I love ending Sunday with a beautifully clean home, knowing everything is in its place, the floors are clean and all my laundry is put away and ready for the following week.

It can be hard to find the time to stay on top of all the cleaning during the week, so setting aside some time each Sunday to do a cleanup leaves you feeling refreshed, energized and ready for whatever the following week will throw at you.

8. Prepare You Clothes for the Following Week

This may seem a bit excessive, but it saves so much time and cognitive overload. All it takes is one bad night’s sleep and you wake up and find yourself rushing around trying to get yourself ready for your first appointment.

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In that state, trying to decide what clothes to wear in another decision you just don’t need. It’s far better to make a rough plan on a Sunday what you will wear for work and have all these clothes ready, washed and ironed.

It also prevents discovering the shirt you want to wear for the early morning meeting is still in the laundry basket when you need it. Plan ahead. It saves so much time and stress.

9. Do a Weekly Planning Session

I’ve experimented doing a weekly planning session on different days but by far, the best day to plan is Sunday. I find that Sunday evenings are the best times to open up my calendar and to-do list, and to plan for the week ahead. It sets me up for the week ahead.

It also helps me to sleep better on Sunday evening, knowing exactly what I need to accomplish the following week. I can start Monday morning without wasting time trying to figure out where things were left the previous Friday.

What I am looking for are where all my meetings are, which days I can focus on my deep and project work and to make sure I have everything processed from the week before.

10. Clear Out Your Email

What? Doing email on a Sunday? Yes. Why? Because the worst thing you can do is start the new week with an inbox full of last week’s unreplied-to emails.

For most of us, Monday morning is likely to be the one day in the week we do not have a lot of email in our inboxes, so we can begin the day on our most important project work. If you spend an hour or two cleaning up your email from last week, you miss a tremendous opportunity to start with a clean slate.

We don’t get a lot of email in on a Sunday, so you can process your inbox and actionable folders to make sure when the new week begins, you not only have a set of outcomes you want to achieve that week, but also begin the new week with no hangovers from the week before.

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11. Do Some Work on Your Side Project

Now, this does not mean work. This means your own personal projects. It could be a DIY project, doing something in your garden, restoring an old car or writing your book.

Sunday’s give you incredible opportunities to do all those things you dream of doing but never seem to find time to do them. Just getting on and doing these side projects removes you from your everyday work, and allows you a few hours to do the things you love doing.

12. Read a Book

During the week, it can be hard to read a good book. We get up, rush out the door to get to work (or move to our home work station and start the computer). When we finish the day, we are exhausted and just want to vegetate in front of the TV.

Don’t waste Sunday’s. They give you a great opportunity to spend time with the books you want to read.

13. Prepare You Meals for the Following Week

This is a great one for those of you who are following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Preparing meals for the following week not only saves a lot of time, it also encourages you to eat healthy on those exhausting days when all you want to do is eating pizza and flopping down on the sofa.

Having a set of pre-prepared meals reduces the temptation during the week when your willpower is at its lowest. It’s quick, healthy and easy to do. It makes sure you are sticking to your diet plan.

Bottom Line

I am not suggesting you try and fit all these things into Sunday. Just pick a few that resonate with you. Do those that will give you the biggest benefit and most joy.

Sunday’s need to be restful, relaxing and give you a chance to do those things you do not normally have time to do. It’s an incredible day, so don’t waste it laying in bed watching endless episodes of your favourite TV series.

More of What You Can Do During Weekend

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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