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Freedom in structure

If you walk down the aisle of a supermarket, you will be amazed at the variety of brands on offer for the same product - from cereal to detergent. I have noticed up to twenty five varieties / brands for a single product category in huge supermarkets.

The theory is more variety is more freedom and thus, better for the customers. However, studies done to validate this showed otherwise. The conversion was highest when the number of brands on offer was between three and five. And conversion dropped when the choices were below this or above this. And conversion hit rock bottom when the choices were over ten. That is, people stayed away from the section altogether when they were overloaded with choice and made the most purchases when they had a reasonable choice of three to five options.

I have spent a lot of time improving the way I structure my life and my daily choices and this is a phenomenon I've noticed in areas outside the supermarket aisles as well.

When I have not broken down a high level goal into smaller tasks, I don't get it done. And when I have broken it down into too many tasks, I don't get it done then either. The optimal is always to identify the next three to five tasks in moving towards the goal. Not more, not less.

While a completely open field with no structure whatsoever seems like the dream and any form of pre-defined structure to our lives seems shackling, we get a lot more done when we operate in structures. Because, our mind is freed up to focus on doing the task at hand in the best manner while not constantly figuring out what the next step is and be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the larger goal.

There is more freedom in structure. 

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