by on March 3, 2021

On Creating Systems

"I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control". —Tim Ferriss

 A lot of people think that being self-disciplined means that you can sit in front of a delicious piece of cake and stare at it for hours without eating it. They think of resisting temptations as being like a knight defending his kingdom against the invader. If you go to seedy bars every week, your chances of getting punched in the face are higher than those of a person spending their evenings at home with a book. Likewise, the best way to protect yourself against temptations is to avoid them — and for that, plain old preparation is more valuable than self-control. Your chances of cheating on a diet are higher if you have forbidden foods at home. Removing them from your house — a simple act that requires little willpower, as long as you’re satiated while doing so — will protect you when you get hungry and the urge to gorge on them hits you like a ton of bricks.

Your chances of sleeping in are lower if you set three different alarms and place them away from your bed. You’ll be less likely to waste time at work when you block the most distracting websites instead of relying on your willpower to stop you before loading those funny cat pictures. Prepare yourself for difficult situations by putting up roadblocks ahead of time, when your resolve isn’t being tested. Your self- control system will do some of the heavy lifting for you, leaving your reserves of self-discipline to be used for the unplanned situations, when they arise.

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