The Method Makes Sense, But Still, You Revert To Your Old Ways

by Michael Hoffman

Here are the 13 biases and effects that can easily derail you from adopting LeanMail – or any new habit for that matter.

Ambiguity effect 

The tendency to avoid options for which the probability of a favorable outcome is unknown. 

Is why we initially reject the idea of processing our mail according to a methodology.  We don’t see any finality or are not sure where it will lead to.  

Dunning–Kruger effect 

The tendency for unskilled individuals to overestimate their own ability and the tendency for experts to underestimate their own ability.[44] 

Is why we think that we are quite good at managing our inbox when, in fact, we are quite unskilled. We don’t know what we don’t know. 

Hyperbolic discounting 

Discounting is the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs. Hyperbolic discounting leads to choices that are inconsistent over time – people make choices today that their future selves would prefer not to have made, despite using the same reasoning.[63] 

Is why we know it would be more efficient to write Next Actions on our emails, but when it comes time to do it, we prefer to skip it. 

Law of the instrument 

An over-reliance on a familiar tool or methods, ignoring or under-valuing alternative approaches. “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” 

Is why we overuse email as a go-to tool for communication. 

Optimism bias 

The tendency to be over-optimistic, underestimating greatly the probability of undesirable outcomes and overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes. 

Is why we believe mediocre management of our email communications does not affect us negatively, when in fact, it does. 

Ostrich effect 

Ignoring an obvious (negative) situation. 

Is why we stick our heads in the sand instead of recognizing that this problem will not go away. 

Planning fallacy 

The tendency to underestimate task-completion times.[69] 

Is why novice LeanMail users tend to push mountains of mails to the following day – every day. 

Present bias 

The tendency of people to give stronger weight to payoffs that are closer to the present time when considering trade-offs between two future moments.[89] 

Is why we often prioritize urgency over importance. 

Pro-innovation bias 

The tendency to have an excessive optimism towards an invention or innovation’s usefulness throughout society, while often failing to identify its limitations and weaknesses. 

Is why we believe that we don’t have to find a better way to manage email because Slack, Teams and other programs will eventually fix the problem. 

Salience bias 

The tendency to focus on items that are more prominent or emotionally striking and ignore those that are unremarkable, even though this difference is often irrelevant by objective standards. 

Is why we work on emotionally packed emails instead of more mundane emails even though the mundane may be more important or urgent. 

Parkinson’s law of triviality 

The tendency to give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Also known as bike shedding, this bias explains why an organization may avoid specialized or complex subjects, such as the design of a nuclear reactor, and instead focus on something easy to grasp or rewarding to the average participant, such as the design of an adjacent bike shed.[101] 

Is why we answer trivial messages instead of working directly on mails that matter. 

Weber–Fechner law 

Difficulty in comparing small differences in large quantities. 

Is why we treat each mail with equality instead of working according to our priorities according to the Pareto Principle.

Well travelled road effect 

Underestimation of the duration taken to traverse oft-traveled routes and overestimation of the duration taken to traverse less familiar routes. 

Is why we go back to our old ways even when the new way makes more logical sense. 

Here is a link to find out more about LeanMail and to register for our Free LeanMail introductory workshop.

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