Environment Design [3 Tips]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.5
“Environment is an invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” —James Clear
The good news?
You can make the invisible hand YOUR hand by designing smarter spaces.
Nudge your future self to be your best self.
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During the pandemic, I bought a home in Vermont. Moving here with my life partner was an excellent opportunity to clear the closet (literally) and design a more intentional environment.
For years, I wanted to pursue my passion for writing, to create and share original thinking. Since intentionally designing my environment in 2021, I’ve written every morning for 2-3 hours.
For the first time in a while, I’m doing what I love and finding internal peace. So, what’s different?
In today’s newsletter, you’ll learn how to create smart spaces—with or without moving—that make achieving your goals inevitable.
3 environment design tips, here we go…
1. Eliminate Visual Cues for Bad Habits
Place a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in my fridge…
I might not have it the first four times I see it (make that three, err…two), but you better believe I’ll eat it eventually. Here, the expression “out of sight, out of mind” holds.
My advice: Consider each item in your living space (one by one) and ask: “Is this prompting a good or bad habit?”
After that, it’s time to hide, donate, or sell the items that prompt bad habits. Be ruthless.
Example: Charge your phone outside your bedroom to avoid unconscious scrolling.
2. Create Obvious Visual Cues for Good Habits
Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian, wanted to write daily.
So he started marking the completion of each session with a big “X” on a wall calendar.
This became known as the Chain Method—a visual display that nudges habit completion.
Here are a few more ideas for empowering visual cues:
- Lay out your exercise clothes for tomorrow's workout.
- Always keep a full water bottle within reach.
- Place hard copies of your favorite books in sight. (I keep The Daily Stoic on my coffee table.) They’ll help remind you who you want to be.
3. Build a powerful inner circle
Your environment extends beyond your home, including the relationships you keep.
So evaluate your relationships:
- Spend more time with people who inspire you
- Spend less time with people who dull you
The friends you keep make a world of difference.
The fastest way to build a habit is to surround yourself with people who already do it.
Here’s what studies show (courtesy of Brad Stulberg):
4. Bonus Tip: Start Fresh
I wouldn't have written this newsletter if I still lived in New York City.
Instead, I'd be nursing a hangover—a lifestyle I'd perpetuated to ‘fit in' rather than one that brought me any real joy.
You don’t need to physically move to a new place to change your environment.
That said, here’s the gift of starting fresh:
A clean slate. To disrupt negative behavior patterns (that might be holding you back).
Environment design is an ongoing process.
A question worth continually asking, courtesy of James Clear: “How can we design a world where it’s easy to do what’s right?”
You don’t have to do everything all at once; it can be gradual.
If you want to dive deeper, check out my 23-page Ultimate Guide to Environment Design (it’s free).
BRINGING IT HOME
- Eliminate visual cues for bad habits
- Create obvious visual cues for good habits
- Build a powerful inner circle
- Consider starting fresh
Be intentional about your habits, relationships, and home.
If you take one thing away from today's newsletter, it’s this:
Live by design, not by default.
All systems go,
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