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PRODUCT.|PHILOSOPHY.|LIFE.

Turning abundance to scarcity

On an average day, I probably touch my phone about 150 times. I look at the lock screen and/or access at least one app (possibly email or WhatsApp) either through a notification or a direct open of the app in each of these 150 times. Most of the 150 times, the interaction just lasts a few seconds, and at other times, it probably lasts several minutes. And this excludes the time when I'm either reading or on a call or listening to a podcast (yes, I only listen to podcasts on my phone and never music).

As a result of this, my phone, which is now nearly three years old, has a battery that lasts between 8-15 hours depending on my level of activity.

But, last Friday, I forgot my phone charger in the office and only realized that I had done so on the Saturday morning when I woke up and saw that I had 13% battery left and tried to charge my phone. Before this, I had never anticipated in my wildest dreams that I would curse the fact that my office building would be completely closed over the weekend with no way of getting in until Monday morning.

So, I was looking at a weekend ahead without my phone.

I've experimented in the past with keeping my phone in airplane mode for most parts of the day and have never fully succeeded in sustaining that behaviour. And now that I was faced with a scenario where I would be forced to do it, I decided to take a different approach this time around.

First, I managed to find a friend that had a charger that I could use for my phone and brought my battery up to a 100%. And it was still mid day Saturday. I challenged myself to last the next 50 hours with this rather than the usual 8-15 hours.

From mid day Saturday until Monday morning when I was back in the office, I probably touched my phone less than 15 times and had 70% of the battery left when I walked into the office on Monday morning.

And this needed no depletion in my will power.

Every time I felt like looking at my phone over the weekend, I asked myself whether the charge that it would consume was worth the task that it would help me accomplish. And 95% of the time, I answered no and ended up not looking at my phone.

And come Monday morning, I had hardly missed anything by cutting my phone interactions by 95%.

When something is abundant (the battery on the phone in this case), we tend not to value it very much and use it indiscriminately. But when the same thing is scarce, we tend to draw the maximum value out of it.

We show this behaviour consistently when it comes to money, but not with other things like our time, our attention, our efforts.

If you're struggling to change your behaviour, try turning an abundance into scarcity and see if that brings about the difference. 

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