Us humans waste A LOT of time.
We accumulate wasted time in wee little segments throughout our day, throughout our week, month etc.
Most of the time we aren’t even aware we’re doing it. The brain likes to put us on autopilot in the name of efficiency. I can safely say I catch myself compulsively opening facebook ALL THE... checks facebook... TIME.
Those 5 minute space-outs add up quick.
If you check social media just 3 times an hour (which I think is a pretty conservative estimate for most people), that’s 15 minutes an hour. In just 4 hours you’ve clocked in an hour of social media time. Keep that up throughout the day and you’re clocking upwards of 4 hours a day. Every day.
This means you have more time than you think you do. We all do.
Think about how else you could spend those 4 hours. You could use that time to meal plan, strength train, go for a walk with a loved one, learn how to do push-ups, catch up with an old friend, learn a new language, whatever you want really.
But why do we waste so much time doing things we don’t really care about? I mean, on your deathbed you’re not going to wish you spent more time scrolling through your facebook feed.
There are all these other things we’d like to get out of life -- more fulfilling uses of that time. So why don’t we pursue those things instead?
Well, there are small easinesses (yes, it’s a word. I looked it up) that make this time wastage quite fluid and unnoticeable. Businesses want it to be as easy as possible to spend tons of time using their product.
It’s the same reason my business makes it super easy to read all the awesome stuff from my site like these articles:
- The Truth About Snacking After 10 PM, and How to Stop
- What to do When Stress is Ruining Your Life
- The Overthinker's Guide to Fitness, Nutrition, and Sleep *How to Make Salads Not Suck and Leave Lunch Not Hungry
I want you to spend as much time on my site as possible. Because I know my online fat loss coaching program will be a game-changer your fat loss, fitness, and health like it has with my clients. But that doesn't matter unless I can convince you of this by getting you to read (and hopefully implement) all the info I publish.
This is why Netflix makes it so easy. When Netflix automatically goes to the next episode my decision becomes that much easier.
There basically is no decision. It’s already been decided by the Netflix overlords: I’m going to keep watching.
Now, if you have to actually click on the episode to watch it, you have a greater likelihood of stopping at some point and maybe actually going outside and taking out the damn garbage.
Convenience is king
Yes, 1 extra click seems pretty insignificant, but it's enough to sway our decisions when we're already feeling conflicted.
Do what Netflix does to make fat loss more streamlined (Get it? Streaming?! ...Oh, nevermind)
Taking all this into account, I see two massive ways to make your life easier, as far as fitness is concerned.
1. REMOVE a barrier to a desired, healthy behavior. Make healthy habits more convenient.
For example, buy pre-chopped vegetables. This makes them more convenient to cook. By removing the step of chopping vegetables, you've made the process of cooking more simple.
Here are some other examples of removing barriers:
- Sign up for a gym that’s really close to your house or work.
- If you have the money, use a grocery delivery service.
- Plan your meals at the beginning of the week.
- Keep tons of healthy foods around the house.
- Put a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your bathroom door. Everytime you go into the bathroom you do a set of squats. Just don’t stub your toe.
2. CREATE a barrier to a behavior you’d like to get rid of. Make continuing that unhealthy habit very inconvenient.
For example, not buying the Costco size bag of Twix. If you have to venture to the store literally every time you want chocolate, you won’t eat it as often. Not just that, you won’t crave them as often. You've made it more difficult to eat chocolat in excess.
Manufacturing hurdles for yourself can be a great way to reinforce proper time allocation and healthier habits. Here are just a few ideas that have worked for myself and my online fat loss clients:
- Always sign out of Facebook/Gmail/Instagram etc.
- Don’t keep junk food in the house. No reason not to eat ice cream occasionally, just don’t keep a pint of that oh-so-glorious Phish Food in the house at all times.
- Delete time wasting/unnecessary apps from your phone.
- Don’t keep your credit card on file for GrubHub/Seamless (This one would have saved me a few hundred bucks had I thought of it sooner)
The takeaway is to manufacture your success by making fat loss mega convenient and making fat gain mega inconvenient.
Capitalize on your own psychology to engineer an environment where the most likely outcome is fat loss.
Intentionally constructing this environment comes down to properly allocating time and effort. No matter what, fat loss takes effort. Even the best fat loss strategies require some work on your part.
That said, those who lose fat the most successfully do so with minimal effort. They know what’s worth the effort and what’s not. They’re very efficient with their energy.
They know how to conserve their willpower for when they absolutely need it. Meaning they mostly put energy into actions that have a high reward to effort ratio. They only expend energy on things that have a lot of bang for their buck -- little energy investment, big reward.
This is the sole aim of removing and creating barriers.
When you make unhealthy behaviors inconvenient and healthy behaviors convenient, your fat loss takes significantly less mental effort. When you put your health on autopilot, fat loss is much more likely to become habitual and successful in the long term.
The “don’t keep unhealthy foods around the house” tactic provides a great example of how this strategy works in terms of mental efficiency.
Option 1: Change nothing about how you grocery shop. Spend everyday after work glaring at the pint of ice cream in freezer, violently grappling with your conflicting wants and emotions.
Eventually you cave, because you’re human and you feel like you’ve ran out of fucks-to-give.
Option 1 is mentally inefficient. This is like driving a big rig. The big rig uses up a ton of fuel. Not only that, diesel fuel is expensive. You certainly can get to your destination this way... if you know how to drive a big rig... and have enough money... which you don’t. In Option 1 you run out of fuel quickly and you can’t always afford to refill your gas tank.
Option 2 (the better one): When you grocery shop, you buy healthy foods you enjoy and are easy to cook/prepare. You don’t buy any of the foods you tend to mindlessly snack on everyday after work. This change in routine (buying different groceries) still takes effort, but you get more out of the effort you put in. You don’t have the daily battle of stopping yourself from devouring the whole pint of ice cream.
This is much more efficient than Option 1. Relative to the work you put in, the impact on your fat loss is massive.
Option 2 is like driving a Hybrid. You go farther with less fuel. The fuel is cheaper than diesel. You don’t have to stop nearly as often. You get to your destination more quickly with more money in your pocket and gas left in the tank.
The same can be said with meal prepping. You invest some time and energy on Sunday looking up recipes and cooking your food for the week. Don’t get me wrong, this feels like a sizeable undertaking, especially at first. However, for the rest of the week you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat at all. If you've planned out all your meals, your nutrition so the next episode always plays automatically.
Ultimately you want to do what one of my clients cleverly called “laying infrastructure”:
Invest your limited time and energy putting up walls blocking where you DON’T want to go, and paving smooth roads to where you DO want to go.
When you lay infrastructure, the journey becomes simpler and more automatic. There is much less decision making so you don’t get what’s called “decision fatigue”.
"In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making."^(1)(2)
When you lay infrastructure, you don’t waste energy resisting the ice cream in freezer. Instead you don’t even think about the ice cream, because there is none. The decision is already made for you because you put in the time earlier to pave the road to your success. The result is a huge impact on your fat loss with relatively little energy.
The alternative is to fight yourself tooth and nail every night just to not eat ice cream once. Which, as you know, is a losing battle.
Planning and mental efficiency makes for faster, more effective fat loss.
Take a tip from Netflix -- make your health automatically go to the next episode and automatically sign out of your unhealthy behaviors. That way you always have to log back in, making it just that much more inconvenient.
Now, you have more than enough proven tactics for how to engineer your fat loss. So tell me, how will you use this to make fat loss easier? Drop a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because action is everything.
(1) Tierney, John (August 21, 2011). "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
(2) Baumeister, Roy F (2003), "The Psychology of Irrationality", in Brocas, Isabelle; Carrillo, Juan D, The Psychology of Economic Decisions: Rationality and well-being, pp. 1–15, ISBN 0-19-925108-8.