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Today I'm going to talk about something significantly different than most shares, yet continuing on the topic of productivity. I've found a very interesting article from Tania Luna and Jordan Cohen. They talk about a characteristic that induces people to choose one path over another. Here's the basic idea of it:


It is 9:00AM in our New York City office, and one of us (Jordan) stops by the fifth-floor kitchen to pick up a free piece of fruit — a healthy perk that Weight Watchers offers its employees. When he arrives, he faces a familiar sight: the bananas are already gone and only the oranges remain. When other hopefuls approach and find the bananas missing, they do not take a free orange. They just walk away. What is wrong with these people? Is there a subculture of orange haters lurking at Weight Watchers?

It turns out the answer is no. The other one of us (Tania) has observed this phenomenon in hundreds of companies across the country. We’ve come to think of it as the Banana Principle: bananas always go first, oranges last. It is not about the fruit itself. A psychologist might say it’s about human nature; a designer might say it’s about usability.

It’s not that bananas are objectively more delicious than oranges. The difference in their popularity comes down to one thing: how easy they are to peel. (Yes, you might say bananas are more a-peeling.)

What a lovely pun.

Now, you tell me this isn't amazingly fun to imagine. People come to an orange and tell themselves: "bah, this is too difficult to handle. I'm better of without the effort." xD

In any case, the articles goes on to state numerous ways in which reducing this characteristic, friction, has been responsible for helping people make positive changes in their work environment, their lives... Or reversely, by introducing friction into an activity, help people deviate from an unwanted path or action.


Over a century ago, the philosopher Guillaume Ferrero proposed that humans operate on the Principle of Least Effort: given several paths, we pick the easiest. More recently, Harvard psychologist Shawn Anchor suggested that the behavior we choose is the one that’s just 20 seconds easier to start.

Interesting to note: good behaviors may actually be discouraged in some places and companies by making it harder for the person to act on those behaviors. But we are mostly freelancers, right? Let's use examples that we can relate to.

Imagine you want to do more physical activities. Perhaps you enjoy biking. You really miss the times you went biking for hours on end. Thing is, in order to go biking in these freelancing days of yours you need to get at least 30 minutes of preparation, you need to let everyone in your environment know you are going out, you need to log off every instant messaging app you have, you need to make sure it isn't raining outside, you need to carry your bike from a very hard-to-get spot, and you need to travel with it by foot until you find a spot which isn't crowded.

That's an awful lot of friction for something good that you want back in your life. So what do you do?


  • Get your uniform set and separated the day before;
  • Store your bike in a more accessible spot;
  • Set up a schedule for biking every day, at a specific time;
  • Check the forecast and plan ahead;
  • Go traveling to your biking spot by car, if you can;
  • Or even better, you buy a stationary bicycle.

That's the entire principle of reducing friction in order to encourage a positive behavior.

Much in the same way, you can reduce your bad habits by introducing friction. So let's say you want to stop smoking, by starting with smoking less. Here's what you can do:

  • Place your pack far away from, maybe even on another room;
  • Put inside a box, within a box, within a box;
  • Let's say you hate passwords. Lock the box with a password lock.
  • Place the box in a hard to reach-spot, such as on top of a shelf, or under a sofa, or bed;
  • Place it outside your home, so you need to unlock your doors, go out, then back in and lock everything again (make sure you are safe, please);

Just some ideas. :)

So that's the entire principle of adding and removing friction in order to incentive or discourage behavior from yourself. You can read the full article on friction here. Additionally, if you want to make going to work harder, use Coca-Cola as fuel for your car.

Still in the spirit of good behaviors and productivity, you can also watch this video over here on how to find more time in your day (for employees, but you might be able to make connections to your own workflow, I'm sure).

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