Dan Ariely’s Reddit AMA—My Favorite Quotes

Cognitive psychologist Dan Ariely is one of my favorite decision scientists, and he’s recently taken an interest in time management—one of the most challenging decision-making issues we all face each day.

So I was delighted to see that he did an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) on the social network Reddit recently.

Here are my favorite quotes from his responses to the dozens of questions he received, mostly about time management but also venturing into statistics, decision-making, and behavior change:

# # #

Emotions are nature’s way of executing a command. Imagine you’re in the jungle and you see a tiger. What nature wants you to do is run as fast as possible without thinking. And emotions have evolved as a way of getting us to behave in specific ways, even if not perfect or rational. #

I think that looking constantly at other couples and other people and comparing yourself to them is certainly not a good way to find happiness. It is a way to maximize counterfactual thinking (thinking about what could have been). #

The world has a lot of “randomness”, and to make good decisions we have to understand the nature of Probability and Randomness. #

Your “productive hours” are very important. Think about when those are, and then practice maniacal devotion to work during those hours. Some people are night hawks, but most are not. #

Sometimes, putting yourself in the position of an external advisor and asking yourself what advice you’d give to someone else in the same situation can be a useful way to reason more calmly and make better decisions. #

One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media). If we could salvage those precious hours, most of us would be much more successful in accomplishing what we truly want. #

[I]f we change the environment in which people operate, we can drive better behaviors. #

Lots of people think that they get an extra boost of focusing and productivity when they are close to the deadline — but it turns out that this is an illusion and in reality they are not getting any better. #

For lots of undesirable behaviors it helps to have a rule. Think about something like “no drinking,” “no dessert unless it is the weekend,” etc.
Rules help us figure out when we are doing the right thing and when we are not, and this way it helps us behave better. #

# # #

Dan Ariely is Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke and Co-Founder and Chief Behavioral Officer at Timeful, a time and task management app for iOS. He is the author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn

Look for New Articles at PrincipalCenter.com

I’ve decided to move the majority of my future writing to PrincipalCenter.com, which we’ve been updating this year and hope to have finished in the next month or so.

Most of this change has been behind-the-scenes since February (when we switched from Drupal to WordPress), but you’ll see more visible changes at The Principal Center when we finalize our new design.

If you’re signed up for email updates, don’t worry—you won’t miss a thing.

If you subscribe by RSS, please update your feed subscription to point to http://www.principalcenter.com or http://www.principalcenter.com/feed (either will work in Feedly).

Eduleadership.org will live on, but I’ll be using it more for personal updates such as speaking announcements, occasional op-ed pieces, technical notes, and other tangential articles. My articles on productivity and instructional leadership will be appearing at PrincipalCenter.com from now on.

Thanks for being a reader!

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn

Dear Michael Hyatt: Lean In

Last week, author and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt made a surprising announcement: he’s offering a high-end coaching “mastermind” program for a select group of 15 people. That’s not the surprising part; many consultants and thought leaders offer these types of groups, usually for an annual fee in the low five figures, and including a combination of […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

The First App To Buy After Upgrading to iOS 8

When the email came in, I actually did a little happy dance. Forgive me for being excited, but it’s a big moment for iPad and iPhone users. Why? There are lots of great things about iOS 8, but one that can’t be overemphasized is support for custom 3rd-party keyboards, which means TextExpander Touch 3 now […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

How To Use Your iPad Without Being Antisocial

Do I want to be a productive weirdo, or actually pay attention to the people around me? It’s not a fun dilemma, yet it’s probably one you face. If you’re among the majority of school leaders who have iPads, you probably hoped the device would make a difference in your productivity throughout the day. More […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Why Behavior Trumps Attitude

We’ve always known the importance of “getting the right people on the bus,” to borrow a phrase from Jim Collins. As leaders, we each have in mind a picture of the “right” kind of person for our school—the right attitude, the right work ethic, the right interest in collaborating, the right coachable mindset, the right […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Go and See: Classroom Walkthroughs as Genchi Genbutsu

As leaders, we need to spend our time where the work is done. We need to understand that work deeply, so we can provide the kind of leadership the organization needs. As instructional leaders, that means we need to be in classrooms. At Toyota, this concept is called Genchi Genbutsu, which conveys the idea of […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Is A Paperless Office Possible?

The dream of having a paperless office has been around for decades, yet it seems that as each year passes, we end up with more paper, not less. Case in point: when my district went to an all-online job application system, instead of getting 250 hardcopy pages in the mail, I’d have to print 500 […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Real Firefighting: Leadership as Creative and Reactive Work

I love being part of the profession of school administration, but the word “administrator” is a little too paper-pusher-ey for my tastes. That’s why, like many people, I prefer the term “school leader.” Leadership is inherently creative work. We’re not just pushing the buttons that someone else in our bureaucracy told us to push. We’re […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Should You Turn This Year’s Regrets Into Next Year’s Agenda?

One of the most critical starting points for high-performance instructional leadership is having a focused leadership agenda. If you don’t have a well-defined sense of what you’re focused on, everything that you’re not focused on will gradually creep in. The principalship—and the work of schools in general—is subject to the Ratchet Effect: once the “ratchet” […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

How (Not) To Differentiate Your Leadership with Staff

As leaders, we achieve most of our results indirectly. I don’t teach reading or math or art; I ensure that reading and math and art are taught well. We work through relationships and systems to turn our daily work into results for students. But that impact isn’t distributed evenly. Teachers are not mere conduits for […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

The $10 Experiment for Giving Something Up

Scope creep. “Other duties as assigned.” Coverage. Little tasks and duties get added to our calendars, and over time, this can take up quite a bit of a principal’s week. We’re all team players and don’t want to ask our staff to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves…but sometimes we end up spending our time […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

80/20 Hacking: The Power of Process

We do much of what we do as school leaders simply because it’s expected. Not because we’ve carefully decided exactly how to spend our time, or carefully considered what leadership actions will have the greatest impact, but simply because we’re supposed to. As much as we might want to be redesign our roles from scratch, […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

Likely Success

Part 5 in a series by Steve Peha (see parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) In our last piece, we talked about that all-important initial group of change agents in our schools: Willing Starters. Without them, nothing starts (at least not willingly). But without the next group, the Likely Followers, nothing continues. Likely Followers may […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...

4 Smart Ways to Hire Well When Hiring Late

You may have started your hiring process months ago, even in January or February. You may have filled all the vacant positions. But then the “Can we talk?” meetings start. “I’ve decided that it’s time to retire.” “My family is moving to another state.” “I decided to take another position.” And you have an unexpected […]

Share:Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
Continue reading...
Google+