014 Sideweight Radio – Defaulting Decision Making

Last week we talked about how developing defaults will help in finding a balance. This week I will give you 3 examples of people defaulting decision making to their advantage.

Defaults Automate Decision Making

SCOTTY: She’s all yours, sir. All systems automated and ready. A chimpanzee and two trainees could run her!
CAPTAIN KIRK: Thank you, Mr. Scott. I’ll try not to take that personally.

In this podcast we will highlight ways people have defaulted decision making to their advantage. This will help you make better choices with greater ease and frequency.

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Defaulting Decision Making

Last week’s episode we talked about how defaults make life easier. This week, I will show you how Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, and Scott Adams use defaults to make their lives easier and increase their impact.

Tim Ferriss

E-mail were the bane of Tim Ferriss’ existence… until he set up defaults.

I use spam filters, autoresponders with FAQs, and automatic forwarding to outsourcers to limit my e-mail obligation to 10–20 e-mail responses per week. It takes me 30 minutes per week because I used systems—elimination and automation—to make it so.
– Timothy Ferriss

Most people who have as much as Tim Ferriss has on his plate spend hours every day checking and responding to emails. By setting up defaults, Tim can save brain power and regain precious hours of his life.

Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi is one of Tim’s close buddies. Ramit uses the same hacker mentality when it comes to his finances. Listen to how his money flows without him having to do a thing.

My finances work on a monthly cycle, and my system automatically disburses money where it needs to go. I’ve set up accounts to draw from my checking account. For example, my ING Direct savings account automatically withdraws a certain amount every month from my checking account, as does my investment account.

For consumer protection, I pay my bills using my credit card. The credit card is automatically paid in full every month by my online checking account. For cash expenses, I use the Schwab ATM card to withdraw money at any ATM nationwide. All ATM charges are fully reimbursed at the end of the month.

Generally, I use my ING Direct account as a receiver, not a sender: I rarely transfer money out of there unless I need to cover a temporary shortage in my checking account or want to spend savings money on something important, like a vacation or birthday gift.

And that’s how I do it.
– Ramit Sethi

Without ever having access to savings or investment monies, Ramit protects himself from himself. A chimpanzee can even run his financial system.

Scott Adams

The creator of the Dilbert comics starts his day on autopilot.

I never waste a brain cell in the morning trying to figure out what to do when. Compare that with some people you know who spend two hours planning and deciding for every task that takes one hour to complete. I’m happier than those people.
– Scott Adams

He used his best thinking to design his morning routine. Rather than entertaining the urges of lower level thinking, Adams reverts to his default program. This saves him energy and makes him happier.

In Sum

Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, and Scott Adams offer awesome examples of defaulting decision making. Whether you are looking to optimize your email communications, finances, or your morning routine – defaults make life easier because they save energy increase impact. Design your routines with higher level thinking once then be done with it.

Closing Comments

1. My first book, Know Thyself, is coming soon!

2. I, like you, am exploring my own true self throughout the Great Adventure. The Mystery of Life maintains my sense of wonder.

3. If you have an idea for a podcast you would like to hear or a question you want answered in an upcoming episode,


or e-mail me


Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Blog

I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Question: How can you use defaults help you save energy and increase impact? You can leave a comment below.