Environment Design


If you don’t want to slip, don’t go where it’s slippery.
Alcoholics Anonymous

Changing your environment is one of the best and easiest ways to change your behavior. Environment design marginally improves your ability to be disciplined by reducing the willpower necessary to be so.

If you want to prevent a behavior, add friction. If you want to encourage a behavior, remove friction. The less willpower necessary to perform the behavior, the easier it becomes.

Environment design is a way of doing Systems Thinking for your environment.

You want to live in an environment that gets the best out of you. And not just the current best you—it should be almost forcing you to level up. Helpful, but insistant.

Adding friction

If you want to spend less time on your phone, remove the prompts that make you want to use your phone. You can’t scroll Instagram if you don’t have Instagram.
If you want to eat healthier food, don’t have unhealthy food in your apartment. Having to go to the store to eat unhealthy food induces friction to the process and can help prevent the behavior.

Removing friction

If you want to work out early in the morning, make it easier by putting out your gym clothes the night before.
If you want to take your vitamins, put them somewhere visible, instead of somewhere hidden away.

How to design your environment

First, ask yourself: “How can I make this new habit easier to do?” And then you troubleshoot (Premeditatio Malorum): “What is making this new habit hard to do?
Be very mindful any time you encounter any friction. Friction is the enemy when cultivating new habits.