The 72 hour rule

Do you rush to Amazon to buy books and stationery and every single little thing that leaps into your brain? Yeah. Me too.

It’s too easy. Amazon Prime makes it simpler than ever to get stuff and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason not to once the dopamine is coursing round your brain.

The problem is, I’m not always 100% convinced it was a good idea afterwards.

Half way through last year I got strict with myself. If you really want it, I told myself, you’ll wait for three days. There’s nothing much in the world that you must have now.

So I adopted the 72 hour rule. I can’t remember where I got it from, I think I nicked it off somebody on a podcast.

Anyway, the 72 hour rule works like this. If you want something, you put it on a post-it note and stick it to the wall with reinforcing sellotape. Because otherwise you’ll find it under your desk three days later. Sometimes I put the date and time on it too.

If it survives three days, I’m allowed to buy it, and then if I don’t buy it within a week it has to go on the wall again. With around 6 out of 10 things, I look at it 24 hours later and think, ‘nah.’ Because I’m not full of dopamine anymore and I can see that whilst a skipping rope probably works for Dave Elitch, it’s not going to work for me.

I know, I’m absolutely no fun at all. Who doesn’t want a skipping rope?

But it has been useful. And I don’t just use it for stuff.

Now that we’re all connected to one another, it’s very easy for me to launch into a new project with certainty that it’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Then I get overwhelmed by the new project plus all the commitments I already have.

And that’s not good. Because if I keep launching projects and pulling out of them, people will get wary of working with me.

So I have to not do that.

Every project I want to launch or get involved with goes on the wall. I’ve avoided launching half a dozen new things I don’t have time to commit to this way.

If you want to apply a little more process to this, have a read of Benjamin Franklin’s decision making ‘way’.

“My way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other Con. Then during three or four days’ consideration, I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that at different time occur to me, for or against the measure. When I have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavour to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out five; and thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly.” –Benjamin Franklin

If it’s good enough for Ben F, it’s good enough for me.

What do you use to keep yourself on track? Let me know!