To avoid temptation of unnecessary purchases, particularly via online shopping, try automating purchases. For example, I am a heavy user of Audible. Rather than continuously buying the books I want to consume, I’ve subscribed to the monthly subscription where I get 1 book credit per month. I know that on the 4th day of every I’ll have a credit available to use.
Automating decisions removes the temptation to purchase adhoc ‘luxuries’ or Sale items.
Many of us know the satisfaction retail therapy can provide if you feel like you’re “missing something”. From my experience, this feeling of discontentment is generally correlated to lack of direction, and boredom.
Goals give us direction. Direction gives us focus. Focus requires discipline.
Discipline is freedom. — Jock Willink
Set goals. Write them down and put them in a place where you are reminded of them. They could be pinned to your bathroom mirror or your bedroom wall. Reminding ourselves of our goals can direct our attention to what’s important.
I was shocked to learn that the average person checks their phone ~150 times a day. To test this I downloaded an app called “Checky”, which measures the amount of times my phone is unlocked. I thought I would be better than most.
I was wrong . Up until last month I was averaging 140. It’s no wonder why us millennials are epitomised to lack focus. How are we supposed to get any work done if we check our phone every 6.4 minutes!?
Here are some tactics I’ve recently adopted to combat my phone addiction.
1) Turn off notifications
Notifications are the enemy. They can lure us into apps that are not important and distract us from our work. I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone, with the exception of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp which I use to communicate with my family.
Emotions and attention are tied to colour perception. Addictive games like Candy Crush and Tetris intentionally use funky colours and visual affects to stimulate our brains. This, coupled with notifications in the form of “likes” and “hearts”, send sweet shots of dopamine to our pre-frontal cortex, heightening our ‘self-worth’ and social status. It’s this lethal combination which makes software so addictive.
I previously spent long periods of time, aimlessly trawling Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Since having my phone on greyscale, this exercise was suffused with an air of bleakness. The digital world literally had the colour sucked right out of it. It’s now, somewhat dull. Now, more of my time is spent reading or doing work that engages my creativity and imagination. Who would have thought?
We are less in control of our decisions than we realise - and this frightens me. Yes, the human race has gotten this far, working with this foible. However, as technology continues to be apart of our lives, our decisions are becoming less of our own.
To combat this, we should be aware of our cognitive flaws and practice the use of our System 2 thinking. We should not fall into the trap of being a sheep and allowing software and social media to control our decisions. We must practice independent thought and build principles around our own decision making process.
In short, we must exercise our muscle of critical thinking.
So next time, before you automatically make a decision, stop, and ask yourself, why? Who knows, you might discover something new.