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Productivity: All You Need To Know To Be Productive

What is productivity and how do you measure it? Some people think being productive has to do with how much time they spend working. Others base their productivity on how much money they make.

The topic of productivity is discussed in many areas of our lives, from business productivity to personal productivity. The articles below cite the newest research on this hot topic with a strong focus on productive habits, and why it’s so important to improve them. Learn how to adopt habits to get ahead of schedule and have more time for what you love.

Regardless of whether you want to learn how to be more productive at work, home, or in school, below you’ll find resources that can help. While it’s not clear whether productivity makes people more happy or if happiness makes people more productive, there is a connection. Would you feel better about yourself and your life if you accomplished more? If so you’ll want to read on.

Explore below for my best articles packed with productivity tools that work.

Top Articles on Productivity

Not Enough Hours in the Day To Slay Your To-Do List

Not Enough Hours in the Day To Slay Your To-Do List

Even the most productive person can’t have it all. At least, not all at once. You can search for the best productivity apps to make you more efficient and focused. You can implement productivity hacks and cut distractions. But you still might feel like there simply are not enough hours in the day for everything you need to get done. Something has to give. Read on for a simple strategy to identify and honor your priorities.
3 Reasons Why Subscription Businesses Fail

3 Reasons Why Subscription Businesses Fail

Subscriptions are hot (and not). Companies and investors love subscription business models since they generate recurring revenue that translates to predictable cash flow. The more money a company is likely to make in perpetuity, the higher its share price.
Skip the Digital Detox—Abstinence Won’t Work (But This Does)

Skip the Digital Detox—Abstinence Won’t Work (But This Does)

I once tried a digital detox. It failed miserably. When I realized I was distracted during quality time with my daughter, I blamed my smartphone and made some extreme changes. One might think, given all the bad press about so-called “smartphone addiction,” that using no technology would be the right cure.
The Surprising Science of “Manifestation”

The Surprising Science of “Manifestation”

Manifesting is bull. There, I said it. According to Oprah, manifesting is bringing something tangible into your life through attraction and belief—i.e. if you think it, it will come. It encourages people to bring a goal to life by making vision boards, writing in manifestation journals, chanting positive affirmations, and speaking it into existence.
Best Productivity Tools: 6 That Stuck With Me

Best Productivity Tools: 6 That Stuck With Me

Since writing Indistractable, I’m often asked what tools and apps I personally use to get the most out of my day. But after years of research into the psychology of productivity, focus, and the causes of distraction, I’ve learned that there is no one magic tool. Rather, the best tool is the one you’ll actually use,which is why I only rely on just a few to be at my best.

Free Schedule Maker: Use My Google Sheet Template

Many people bristle at the idea of using a schedule planner. They don’t want restrictions and prefer the freedom to tackle things as they come up. While an open day is wonderful on a vacation when you have nothing to do but relax, vacations eventually end. In the real world, there is work to finish, people to meet, and a family to nurture. When we don’t plan time in our day to do what really matters, our life quickly falls out of balance.
A Fail-Safe Trick in your Search for the Right Productivity Apps

A Fail-Safe Trick in your Search for the Right Productivity Apps

The internet is inundated with articles that have titles like “The Best Productivity Tools of the Year” and “Productivity Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier.” Dozens if not hundreds of apps claim to help people focus, manage their time, and stick to healthy habits.
You’re Not Addicted to Technology. Here’s What’s Happening Instead.

You’re Not Addicted to Technology. Here’s What’s Happening Instead.

The loudest voices in our culture today say yes. During a conversation about technology on his mega-popular podcast, Joe Rogan said, “We’ve got a real addiction problem in this country.” In a congressional hearing in 2021, U.S. representative Kathy Castor of Florida said that apps are “designed to be addictive.” During his 2020 presidential campaign run, Andrew Yang said, “Our kids unfortunately are getting addicted to smartphones.”
Locus of Control: How It Affects Your Life and How To Manage It

Locus of Control: How It Affects Your Life and How To Manage It

My daughter had just pulled the caramel corn out of the oven, and the sticky-sweet smell was almost irresistible. Despite knowing it wasn’t going to help my diet, I was gnawing for a taste. But instead of kindly asking for a small bite, as I should have, I barked, “Damn this caramel corn!”
8 Productivity Hacks You Can Do in 30 Minutes

8 Productivity Hacks You Can Do in 30 Minutes

Got a few minutes? Then why not use them to implement these quick fixes that cut distraction and aid productivity? I uncovered these productivity fixes while researching how to combat distraction and increase productivity for my book Indistractable, and I’ve relied on them ever since.
Why Values In a Relationship Are What Make It Last (Or Not)

Why Values In a Relationship Are What Make It Last (Or Not)

You don’t have to agree on everything, but you do have to be aligned. Divorce sucks. My friend is going through one right now. The worst part is that he saw it coming. And he’s not the first of my friends to tell me they ignored the warning signs of an eventual breakup. Although there isn’t a surefire way to predict which relationships will last, there are some guidelines anyone entering or in a committed relationship should be aware of. They involve having honest discussions to make sure you’re seeing eye to eye with your partner about hot-button issues.
Why People See Problems Where There Are None

Why People See Problems Where There Are None

Our baseline dissatisfaction is what motivates us, but we must harness it correctly. Do you often experience a strange malaise, that feeling of blah-ness you can’t quite explain? The good news is you’re not alone. You may be surprised to learn that, although people don’t often admit it, everyone’s default state is dissatisfaction; it’s how we evolved.
3 Ways to Filter Your Friends

3 Ways to Filter Your Friends

When it comes to friendships, quality matters more than quantity. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they are “seriously lonely.” For many people, the solution may seem to be to go out and get more friends. Yet one study shows that when it comes to friendships, less is more. But how do you decide which friendships to invest in and which to let go of?
How Products Shape Our Mindsets and Change Our Reality

How Products Shape Our Mindsets and Change Our Reality

When I first started using the Strava app, my weekly running mileage skyrocketed. Nothing had changed other than my perception of how much running was “enough.” Lots of people in my feed were clocking 40 to 60 miles a week, and suddenly my 20-mile weekly average seemed negligible. Here’s how the products we use can shape our perception of reality and, as a result, change our actions and lives—all by leveraging the much-studied yet still mysterious power of mindsets.
How to Prevent Burnout Using Timeboxing

How to Prevent Burnout Using Timeboxing

A 2021 Indeed survey shows 52% of 1,500 American respondents say they feel burned out, compared with 43% the year prior; 67% believe that burnout worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not surprising.
How to Embrace, Not Fear, Being Alone

How to Embrace, Not Fear, Being Alone

Are you afraid of being alone? Well, you’re not alone in that. In a 2014 survey of 2,000 adults, one in three said they fear being alone: 40% of women and 35% of men. Ironically, the more we subvert quality alone time with distraction, the more we cripple our capacity for being alone—and stoke our fear about it. Giving in to fear of being alone perpetuates a cycle of loneliness.
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Humans have an evolutionary need to be challenged—to feel discomfort. We may not enjoy whatever discomfort we expose ourselves to in the moment—be it a physical, mental, or spiritual hardship—but doing so is key to personal growth and even just plain contentment. However, if we’re to take that first step outside of our comfort zone, we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Surprise! There’s a Right Way to Multitask

Surprise! There’s a Right Way to Multitask

Everyone knows that multitasking destroys productivity, right? Haven’t we all seen studies and read articles telling us that it’s impossible to do two things at once? In some ways, that’s true. Lucky for you, I developed a method to multitask the right way. I call it “multichannel multitasking.”
Can Someone with ADHD be ‘Indistractable’?

Can Someone with ADHD be ‘Indistractable’?

Does my book Indistractable work for the ADHD brain? It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Though I didn’t specifically write the book for people with ADHD, I wanted to get an honest opinion from an expert. I reached out to Caitlin O’Brient Bauer, who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 8 and is now a certified ADHD coach.
Planning a Vacation Is Practice for a Great Life

Planning a Vacation Is Practice for a Great Life

When I was 13, my parents and I went to Europe on vacation. It was miserable. My father wanted to hit all the major sites, while my mother just wanted to relax. Because they couldn’t agree on what to do, none of us got the vacation we’d hoped for.
Why It’s So Hard to Shake the Way People Make You Feel

Why It’s So Hard to Shake the Way People Make You Feel

Good or bad, our feelings color how we see people. In psychology, a “trapped prior” is a perception of reality that’s colored, or trapped, by past experiences. If not treated, trapped priors can turn into debilitating phobias.
Don’t Write About What You Already Know — Instead, I’m “Writing To Learn”

Don’t Write About What You Already Know — Instead, I’m “Writing To Learn”

For me, writing is a wonderful way to go deep on a problem I’m struggling with. As my friend and fellow author, Gretchen Rubin told me, “Research is me search.” When I’m struggling with one thing or another, my first step is to think through the problem myself. But there are still problems so tricky that they take even more thinking through.
Are We Really Having Fun at Bars or Just Escaping Reality?

Are We Really Having Fun at Bars or Just Escaping Reality?

For many people, bars and booze serve as the original Tinder or Grinder, a socially acceptable way to shop for a mate. But not everyone in a bar is on the prowl. Some will tell you they go out for drinks to just unwind and have fun. That’s certainly true, but is there a deeper reason?
The 6 Behavioral Design Books That Paved My Career

The 6 Behavioral Design Books That Paved My Career

I’m surprised I ended up an author. I’m dyslexic, English is not my first language, and writing was always my worst subject in school. Just as surprising as my unlikely path are the mix of books that got me here.
The Time Management Technique That Can Work For Anyone

The Time Management Technique That Can Work For Anyone

Too often, people eschew a method of bettering their life by naming the reasons it won’t work for them. For most people, it’s not that timeboxing doesn’t work for them — it’s that they’re scared of it.
The Key to Behavior Change is Identity Change

The Key to Behavior Change is Identity Change

One of the most effective ways to change your behavior is to change your identity. I don’t mean joining the CIA or a witness protection program, or adopting an alter ego. I mean, rather, changing the way you see yourself.
One Question to Help You Get More Done

One Question to Help You Get More Done

It was 9 a.m. and Wendy, a freelance marketing consultant, knew exactly what she needed to do for the next hour: be in her office chair to write new client proposals, the most important task of her day. As she held her coffee mug with both hands and took a sip, a fantastic addition to the proposal entered her head. “This is going to be great!” she thought to herself. But before she had a chance to write down the idea — “Ping!” Her phone buzzed with a notification.
The Pursuit of ‘Flow’ Is Overrated

The Pursuit of ‘Flow’ Is Overrated

The idea of flow is considered by many to be the epitome of productivity. Also known as “being in the zone” or “hitting your stride,” flow captivates us with its promise of becoming so absorbed in what we’re doing that we tackle tasks effortlessly. That magical zone is great when you can find it. But what happens when you can’t?
How to Survive in a World of Information Overload

How to Survive in a World of Information Overload

We live in a world of too much information, and it’s nothing less than a blessing. Throughout most of human history, access to knowledge was limited. Power equated to how much information you had access to. Kings built great libraries, and texts were rare and valuable things. Today, however, what was once scarce is abundant. We’re drowning in information.
How to Get a Friend to Put Away Their Phone Without Being a Jerk

How to Get a Friend to Put Away Their Phone Without Being a Jerk

Are we ever exclusively in our friends’ company? Our phones are almost assuredly present and ready to interrupt us with a poorly timed notification. Who hasn’t seen a friend divert their attention, mid-conversation, to reflexively check their phone? Most of us simply accept these interruptions as a consequence of our times. But there’s something you can do about it.
How to Tame Your Wandering Mind and Actually Get Some Work Done

How to Tame Your Wandering Mind and Actually Get Some Work Done

You have a big deadline looming, and it’s time to hunker down. But every time you start working, you find that, for some reason, your mind drifts off before you can get any real work done. What gives? What is this cruel trick our brains play on us, and what do we do about it? Thankfully, by understanding why our mind wanders and taking steps to deal with distraction, we can stay on track. But first, let’s understand the root of the problem.
If You Don’t Plan Your Time, Someone Else Will

If You Don’t Plan Your Time, Someone Else Will

Most people are stingy with their money and generous with their time. We cut coupons, split checks, and debate whether we should buy a 99-cent app. However, when it comes to our time and attention, we give it away to anyone who wants it without thinking twice.
You Don’t Need a Mentor. You Need a Buddy.

You Don’t Need a Mentor. You Need a Buddy.

When you’re struggling to achieve your personal or professional goals, do you ever wish you could speak with a famous mentor? If only you could connect with a super successful business leader like Jeff Bezos or Meg Whitman, then you’d have the answers you’re looking for. Surely they’d point you in the right direction, right?
Would You Rather Give Up Sex or Your Phone?

Would You Rather Give Up Sex or Your Phone?

Every night, my wife and I engaged in the same routine: She put our daughter to bed, brushed her teeth, and freshened up. We both slipped under the covers, exchanged knowing glances, and started doing what comes naturally to a couple in bed: we began to lovingly caress our gadgets — she fondled her cell phone, while I tenderly stroked the screen of my iPad. Ooh, it felt so good!
Habit Tracker Template — Use My (Printable) Google Sheet

Habit Tracker Template — Use My (Printable) Google Sheet

Many people strive to improve themselves in one way or another. Whether it’s getting more sleep and exercise, or spending more time doing the things we love, our ideal selves drive us to be better. They symbolize our belief in our own potential to live in alignment with our values. The drive to improve is also why strategies and tools that enable us to track our behaviors are so potentially gratifying. It feels good to see ourselves moving closer to our goals.
I Changed My Mind About Saying “Merry Christmas,” and You Should Too

I Changed My Mind About Saying “Merry Christmas,” and You Should Too

In fifth grade, I was the only Jewish kid in my elementary school class. This was the 1980’s in Central Florida and even though it was a public school, unaffiliated with any church and funded with taxpayer dollars, my teacher taped a poster to the wall in her classroom that read, “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season.” The Christmas specials on TV said Santa visited “all the children in the world.” The good ones got gifts. The naughty ones got lumps of coal. The Jewish ones got told Santa wasn’t coming to their house.
Habits Are Overrated

Habits Are Overrated

These days, when someone says they want to form a “habit,” what they often mean is that they want to make drudgery effortless. That is, they don’t want to actually do the work, rather they want to have done it—past tense. The trouble is, trying to build a habit is often a self-defeating trap.
Need Motivation? Make a Price Pact

Need Motivation? Make a Price Pact

Probably the only research paper I’ll ever call “delicious” is one called, “A Tale of Two Pizzas.” In the study, researchers offered one group of people plain pizzas, plus the option to add ingredients for an additional charge. To a second group, they offered topping-loaded pizzas, with the chance to remove ingredients and pay less. Same thing, right? Of course, not…
The Pinky Promise: Stick To It – Or Shed Some Blood

The Pinky Promise: Stick To It – Or Shed Some Blood

A pinky promise is a surefire way to make you do what you say you’ll do. People have a long history of breaking promises, to themselves and to others. For as long as people have been squelching on their commitments, they’ve tried to come up with ways to keep them. Consider the pinky promise.
Tame Daily Distractions With a ‘Precommitment Pact’

Tame Daily Distractions With a ‘Precommitment Pact’

From Homer to Franzen, productive people lean on precommitments as a proven way to stick to their goals.Famed director Quentin Tarantino “never use[s] a typewriter or computer.” He prefers to write screenplays by hand in a notebook. Pulitzer Prize-winning author...

Getting Over FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out

Getting Over FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out

FOMO, the “fear of missing out,” refers to the feeling of “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” Most people at one time or another have been preoccupied by the idea that someone, somewhere, is having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life.
The New Norms of Business: Interview with Nathalie Nahai

The New Norms of Business: Interview with Nathalie Nahai

Nir’s Note: Author, speaker, and host of “The Hive Podcast,” Nathalie Nahai’s work explores the intersection between persuasive technology, ethics, and the psychology of online behavior. Following her best-selling book, Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online...

How to Play The Long Game: Interview with Dorie Clark

How to Play The Long Game: Interview with Dorie Clark

Nir’s Note: Entrepreneur, speaker and consultant, Dorie Clark is a recognized leader in the field of executive education, a topic she teaches at Duke University Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School. She has developed over 20 LinkedIn Learning courses...

Here Are The 4 Simple Introspection Steps That Will Boost Self Awareness

Here Are The 4 Simple Introspection Steps That Will Boost Self Awareness

Last year, over 15 million books were sold in the self-help genre, accompanied by a panoply of videos, courses, and workshops that fuel this multibillion-dollar industry. But there’s a secret the gurus don’t want you to know — many of the answers to life’s most important questions can be found inside of you, for free. It’s called introspection.
Can’t Seem to Stick With Your Commitments? Try Making a Pact.

Can’t Seem to Stick With Your Commitments? Try Making a Pact.

You’ve surely heard the protest chant: “What do we want? “[Insert social change here.]” “When do we want it?” “NOW!” But imagine walking by a protest and hearing this: “What do we want?” “We’re not really sure!” “When do we want it?” “Whenever you get around to it is...

The Real Reason Why You Sabotage Your Own Goals

The Real Reason Why You Sabotage Your Own Goals

Recently, as I was clearing the dinner table, I asked my daughter if she could wash the dishes. “I was going to, Dad,” she said. “But now that you’ve asked me to, I don’t want to anymore.” I should have known better. This was a classic example of psychological...

How to Stay on Schedule Even When You Go Off Track

How to Stay on Schedule Even When You Go Off Track

Don’t let one distraction keep you from what you intended to spend your time on. Here’s how to stay on schedule.To-do lists are supposed to keep us on task. It turns out they do the opposite. I’ve written about the many reasons why. To regain focus and be more...

Stop Thinking About Your Bad Habits! [Do This Instead.]

Stop Thinking About Your Bad Habits! [Do This Instead.]

There’s a much more effective way to conquer your vices.In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there’s a scene where a magical plant called Devil’s Snare captures Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. The vines wrap around their bodies like hungry pythons as they struggle...

Steal These 3 Advertising Secrets–To Use As Motivation Hacks

Steal These 3 Advertising Secrets–To Use As Motivation Hacks

You can create some powerful motivation hacks by learning techniques from the persuasion business.The reason why you hate being micromanaged by your boss is the same reason why, as a kid, you refused to put your coat on when your mom told you to bundle up. We’re all...

How to Escape the Vicious Cycle of Distraction

How to Escape the Vicious Cycle of Distraction

You have time for everything, even if it doesn’t feel that way.People are always saying “there aren’t enough hours in the day” to get stuff done. And yet research suggests that the average working American has four hours of leisure per day. If we have so many hours to...

20 Common Values [and Why People Can’t Agree On More]

20 Common Values [and Why People Can’t Agree On More]

When you replace the typical definition of ‘values’ with a better one, your life suddenly becomes clearer.When I recently came across the headline “The World’s Most Influential Values, In One Graphic,” I couldn’t help but click–a good data visualization is like catnip...

Can We Please Stop Calling Everyone “Addicted”?

Can We Please Stop Calling Everyone “Addicted”?

It’s disrespectful, degrading, and disempowering. In my review of The Social Dilemma, I challenged the filmmakers’ rather extreme view that huge swaths of people are “addicted to technology,” that social media is like a dangerous drug that’s hijacking people’s brains,...

Why Do People Believe the ‘Social Media is Mind Control’ Myth?

Why Do People Believe the ‘Social Media is Mind Control’ Myth?

In our search for easy answers, we give up control.The evidence is overwhelming: we are far more powerful than the technology that is supposedly mind-controlling us. It’s not even close. As I’ve discussed in other articles, we need to give ourselves more credit....

Timeboxing: Why It Works and How to Get Started in 2023

Timeboxing: Why It Works and How to Get Started in 2023

Timeboxing is the nearest thing we have to productivity magic, yet most people don’t utilize it. It amounts to boxing out periods of time to work on distinct tasks each day. But when I recommend perhaps the most effective technique ever devised to help people stay on track, most of them balk.
Children and Technology: 3 Things Parents Need To Know

Children and Technology: 3 Things Parents Need To Know

Whatever your view of tech’s impact on our children, here are three common sense rules we can all follow.Nir’s Note: this article is a collaboration between myself and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Jon...

The Influencers Dinner: An Interview with Jon Levy

The Influencers Dinner: An Interview with Jon Levy

Nir’s Note: What do Bill Nye, break dancer Crazy Legs, cyber illusionist Marco Tempest, and economist Nouriel Roubini have in common? They’ve all been guests at a little-known "Influencers dinner" regularly hosted by behavioral scientist Jon Levy at his New York...

What Is Motivation? You’ve Probably Been Thinking About It All Wrong

What Is Motivation? You’ve Probably Been Thinking About It All Wrong

What is motivation: Understanding the relationship between motivation and discomfortIt took me five years to write my last book, which was a lot longer than it should have taken. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do–I did. I just didn’t do it. I wasn’t...

“Just Say No” Is Bad Productivity Advice

“Just Say No” Is Bad Productivity Advice

Try schedule-syncing instead.You’ve probably read this advice before: “The best thing you can do for your productivity is to say no more often.” By freeing yourself from unnecessary tasks, the thinking goes, you can spend more time working on the things that really...

The New York Times Uses the Very Dark Patterns it Derides

The New York Times Uses the Very Dark Patterns it Derides

‘Dark patterns’ aren’t always malicious mind control. They’re often a symptom of disjointed company culture. Will the Times change?'A recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Stopping the Manipulation Machines,” derided the use of dark patterns: design tricks that push...

Why the Illusion of Control Is Hurting Your Goals

Why the Illusion of Control Is Hurting Your Goals

A classic survivor test shows us how the illusion of control can sidetrack us from our mission when things get uncomfortableLet’s try something. Imagine you’ve just crash-landed somewhere in the Sonoran Desert, deep in the American Southwest. Though the aircraft is...

Are You a Wage Slave?

Are You a Wage Slave?

Can we create a future where people no longer have to work at jobs they hate?In 100 years, some things we consider normal today will make people say, “Wow, how barbaric—I can’t believe people did that! How were they okay with that?” Wage slavery, I hope, will be one...

Will Clubhouse be a Habit or Has-Been?

Will Clubhouse be a Habit or Has-Been?

Photo by William Krause on UnsplashNir’s Note: This article is part of a series on “The Hooked Model in Action.” Previous analyses have included Slack, Fortnite, Amazon’s Echo, Tinder, and The Bible App. I never take compensation from any company profiled.Maybe you’ve...

How to “Listen Like you Mean It”

How to “Listen Like you Mean It”

Ximena Vengoechea says we need to “Reclaim the Lost Art of True Connection.” Ximena (pronounced “hee-men-ah“) is a writer and illustrator best known for her Life Audit project. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Inc., The Washington Post, The Muse, and Newsweek....

Smartphone Too Distracting? Here’s How to Reclaim Your Focus

Smartphone Too Distracting? Here’s How to Reclaim Your Focus

In 2017, I decided I’d had enough of my smartphone and the companies that make the apps that were robbing me of my time and attention. I thought I found the perfect solution: the card phone. The card phone is what it sounds like: It’s a $18 tiny phone with no social...

“Tech Addiction” Is the New Reefer Madness

“Tech Addiction” Is the New Reefer Madness

By promoting the idea that technology is hijacking our brains and getting all of us addicted to our devices, techno-fearmongers elevate the exception rather than the rule.Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri, introduced the Social Media Addiction Reduction...

An Illustrated Guide to the 4 Types of Liars

An Illustrated Guide to the 4 Types of Liars

What is the psychology of the liar? There are various ways of classifying lies: by their consequences, by the importance of their subject matters, by the speakers’ motives, and by the nature or context of the utterance. Perhaps the most useful way to classify lies is by the type of liars who tell them.
Why You Might Need a Humor Audit: the Benefits of Laughter

Why You Might Need a Humor Audit: the Benefits of Laughter

Meet Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life. Dr. Jennifer Aaker teaches about human-centered AI, designing for VR/AR, and the power of story at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where...

Hypocrites: How to Survive in a World that’s Full of Them

Hypocrites: How to Survive in a World that’s Full of Them

What is a Hypocrite?hyp-o-crite /ˈhipəˌkrit/ noun a person who claims to have moral standards to which that person’s own behavior fails to conform.What is an Example of Being a Hypocrite?I once worked with a person we’ll call “Dick.” Dick always told me he’d get...

How to Finally Find the Motivation You’ve Been Missing

How to Finally Find the Motivation You’ve Been Missing

Photo by luca pizzarotti on UnsplashNir’s Note: This guest post was written by Cheryl MaguireThe laundry hamper was overflowing with dirty clothes. Lacking the motivation to throw it into the wash, I pushed the clothes down deeper into the bin so I could fit more...

Ashley Stahl: Former National Security Expert Helps Us Get Unstuck

Ashley Stahl: Former National Security Expert Helps Us Get Unstuck

Ashley Stahl is a counter-terrorism professional turned career coach, speaker, and, most recently, author of You Turn, a book about getting unstuck, discovering your career direction, and designing your dream job. Through her two viral TEDx talks speeches (here and...

David Burkus: The One Thing Remote Leaders Need to Know

David Burkus: The One Thing Remote Leaders Need to Know

David Burkus is a speaker, business thought-leader, professor, and best-selling author. His TedX talk, "Why You Should Know How Much your Coworkers Get Paid" has been viewed over 2 million times. He teaches courses on organizational behavior, creativity and...

Hindsight Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Hindsight Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

A 69-year-old man began experiencing a persistent cough, chest discomfort, and weight loss. His physician recommended a radiograph of his chest to identify the root of the issue, which revealed a large tumor. A biopsy confirmed the worst: malignant thymoma, a cancer hiding between the lungs consuming the patient’s body from the inside out. Three and a half years earlier, he’d had the same chest radiograph done as part of a routine examination. The patient decided to sue the doctor who missed the tumor. Was this an example of hindsight bias?
How to Turn Off Harmful Stress Like a Switch

How to Turn Off Harmful Stress Like a Switch

By Nir Eyal and Todd SnyderLet’s play a game of “would you rather.” Would you rather speak in front of 500 people for an hour or be stuck in an elevator with your ex? Would you rather get a cavity drilled or be forced to take a four-hour Zumba class? Would you rather...

This is How the Media is Misleading You on “Technology Addiction”

This is How the Media is Misleading You on “Technology Addiction”

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Siri Helle, a clinical psychologist living in Sweden.Which of the following is true? Screen time is the leading cause of anxiety and depression amongst teenagers Studies have found that screen time shrinks people’s attention span to...

Be a Schedule Builder, Not a To-Do List Maker

Be a Schedule Builder, Not a To-Do List Maker

Imagine you bought a new phone, but at the end of each day, every day, the operating system crashed. Would you keep using the faulty phone? Of course not. You’d take it back to the store, complain, and get a new one. And yet, many people run their entire lives on a...

Handling Life Transitions: Interview with Bruce Feiler

Handling Life Transitions: Interview with Bruce Feiler

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down for a Q&A with Bruce Feiler, a Ted Talk veteran and seven-time bestselling author, who most recently wrote Life is in the Transitions, a guidebook for navigating the times when our lives pivot dramatically. You can find...

Indistractable Schedule Maker Tool

Below is a free schedule maker template (it’s a Google sheet available here) to create your own timeboxed weekly calendar. After you open it, click on the blue “Use Template” button to create your own copy—it will show up in your Google account at drive.google.com. To...

Screen Time for Kids: Give Them What They Need

Screen Time for Kids: Give Them What They Need

Society’s fear of technology destroying our children's future has reached a fever pitch and many parents have resorted to extreme measures.  A quick search on YouTube reveals thousands of videos of parents storming into their kids’ rooms, unplugging the computers or...

From Friday Forward to Monday Motivation: Q&A with Robert Glazer

From Friday Forward to Monday Motivation: Q&A with Robert Glazer

Many of us start our Mondays wondering where our motivation will come from, and for some, whether we’ve even chosen the right career. Reference the (mostly) uplifting Twitter hashtag #MondayMotivation. A recurring theme in my articles is the importance of aligning...

Email Management: How to Hack Back and Cure Inbox Insanity

Email Management: How to Hack Back and Cure Inbox Insanity

Email is the scourge of the modern workplace. Here are four rules that can help keep it in check.Email is the curse of the modern worker. Some basic math reveals just how big the problem is. The average office-dwelling professional receives a hundred messages per day....

The Surprising Benefits of Unconditional Positive Regard

The Surprising Benefits of Unconditional Positive Regard

In 1967, a catchy tune by The Beatles, “All You Need is Love,” became the anthem for the Summer of Love. The Flower Power culture embraced the song and its message, “love is all you need.” If someone had asked humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers what the song meant,...

How to Raise Distraction-Free Kids

How to Raise Distraction-Free Kids

Nir's Note: This interview with my good friends Vanessa Van Edwards first appeared on her blog, Science of People. She did such a great job summarizing our interview that I wanted to share it with my readers as well. Check out Vanessa's site and let me know what you...

How to Get the Most Out of Your Calendar

How to Get the Most Out of Your Calendar

These Two Questions Will Completely Change the Way You Use Your Calendar: It’s all about reflecting and refining.It doesn’t so much matter what you do with your time; rather, success is measured by whether you did what you planned to do. It’s fine to watch a video,...

Extrinsic Motivation: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Extrinsic Motivation: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Everyone struggles with dwindling or misplaced motivation from time to time, and I’m no exception. Thankfully, I’ve learned to overcome my penchant for procrastination: getting what I want done, even when I don’t feel like it. Learning the difference between the two kinds of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic, made all the difference.
Don’t Follow Your Gut (and What to Do Instead)

Don’t Follow Your Gut (and What to Do Instead)

How should we make decisions in life? Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist, says that whatever you do, Never Go With Your Gut. It’s such bold advice that Dr. Tsipursky decided to make it the title of his latest book. In this...

Why You Don’t Have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Think Like One

Why You Don’t Have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Think Like One

If you looked up the word “polymath” in the dictionary, you may see a picture of Ozan Varol. He teaches at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and has written a widely cited book on comparative politics. Most surprisingly, however, he was part of the NASA...

Why We Should All Be Wearing (and Making) Face Masks Right Now

Why We Should All Be Wearing (and Making) Face Masks Right Now

Everyone should be wearing a face mask now, whether they are sick or healthy. We can make our own masks to ensure we're not taking them away from health care workers. In several Asian countries that are successfully lowering the number of infections from Covid-19,...

[Survival Tips] Homeschooling During Coronavirus Closings

[Survival Tips] Homeschooling During Coronavirus Closings

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, some 850 million children are suddenly learning at home instead of in traditional classrooms. My family has had practice homeschooling for the past five years, so I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and tactics to help get...

What You Need to Know When Visualizing Your Goals

What You Need to Know When Visualizing Your Goals

Nir’s Note: This guest post is written by Dr. Todd Snyder. Dr. Snyder is a Psychologist and Productivity Coach at ToddSnyderCoaching.comThe world is full of self-help myths and half-truths. One bit of folk psychology that won’t seem to die is the idea that we can...

This is What Most People Get Wrong About Willpower

This is What Most People Get Wrong About Willpower

You come home after a long day of work and you immediately curl yourself up on the couch and binge the latest Netflix craze for hours, while you scroll and scroll through your social media feeds and snack on potato chips even though you're "on a diet." You look around...

Is Tech Ruining Kids? How to Safely Manage Screen Time

Is Tech Ruining Kids? How to Safely Manage Screen Time

We have to help our children manage screen time — not outlaw itOur fears about what technology and smartphones are doing to our kids has reached a fever pitch. Articles with headlines like “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” and “The Risk Of Teen Depression And...

5 Ways to Distraction-Train Your Mind

5 Ways to Distraction-Train Your Mind

Recently, the BBC asked me to provide a few tips for how to distraction-train our minds to manage distraction. Notice the phrasing. It’s not about how to eliminate distractions from your phone or your computer, but rather it’s about us. To regain control over our...

Here Is How to Practice Stillness and Increase Focus

Here Is How to Practice Stillness and Increase Focus

Ryan Holiday is the author of ten books which have sold over 2 million copies. His books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and Conspiracy have been translated into thirty languages. In this interview, Ryan discusses his latest...

This is How to Repair a Toxic Work Culture

This is How to Repair a Toxic Work Culture

When Harvard’s Leslie Perlow began to study The Boston Consulting Group, she was well aware of the firm’s round-the-clock reputation. After conducting interviews with BCG’s staff, Perlow found that this reputation was coming at a major cost. Employees were leaving the...

How to (Finally) Put an End to Pointless Arguments

How to (Finally) Put an End to Pointless Arguments

Count me as a Buster Benson fan. His 2016 Cognitive bias cheat sheet is legendary among behavioral designers. I have a framed print out of his codex in my home and I’ve enjoyed his writing on various topics for years. He has extensive experience building products that...

Progressive Extremism: How To Be A Better You

Progressive Extremism: How To Be A Better You

I had just finished giving a speech on building habits when a woman in the audience exclaimed, “You teach how to create habits, but that’s not my problem. I’m fat!” The frustration in her voice echoed throughout the room. “My problem is stopping bad habits. That’s why...

The Most Important Skill of the Future is Being ‘Indistractable’

The Most Important Skill of the Future is Being ‘Indistractable’

How the difference between traction and distraction could transform your productivityI know how distractions work from the inside. For over a decade, I’ve helped tech companies build products to keep you clicking. In fact, I wrote the book about it in 2014: Hooked:...

How To Disarm Internal Triggers and Improve Focus

How To Disarm Internal Triggers and Improve Focus

Use this 4-step method to handle unwanted thoughts that can derail your focusWhile we can’t control the feelings and thoughts that pop into our heads, we can control what we do with them. Research of smoking cessation programs performed by Dr. Jonathan Bricker, of the...

This Is The Most Important Skill Parents Should Teach Their Kids

This Is The Most Important Skill Parents Should Teach Their Kids

As parents, we all want to raise kids who are smart and focused, especially in a world where digital distraction seems to be inescapable. (Even tech titans like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have strategies for limiting their children’s screen time.) Why? Because in the...

How to Master Hard Skills Quickly with “Ultralearning”

How to Master Hard Skills Quickly with “Ultralearning”

Scott Young is an “ultralearner.” He’s known for learning M.I.T.’s grueling 4-year computer science curriculum in just twelve months. He speaks six languages. In fact, he’s presented his lecturers to audiences in Chinese. It’s fitting that Scott is also the author of...

The Addictive Products Myth: Who Is the Culprit Here?

The Addictive Products Myth: Who Is the Culprit Here?

Nir’s Note: This article explores a new model for understanding addiction. I challenge the simplistic view that addictive products cause addiction. Rather, addiction is a confluence of three factors. Gasoline is highly flammable. But without oxygen and heat, it will...

1 Thing You Need To Know To Save You From Your Email Inbox

1 Thing You Need To Know To Save You From Your Email Inbox

Is your email inbox taking over your work-life? Are you unable to get any “real” work done because you’re too busy responding to emails? Do you feel stressed, distracted, and overwhelmed when you see new emails pop up in your email inbox? You’re not alone. The average...

If Tech Is So Distracting, How Do Slack Employees Stay So Focused?

If Tech Is So Distracting, How Do Slack Employees Stay So Focused?

How Slack’s culture kills distraction by building psychological safety, telling employees to go home, and using lots and lots of emojis.If there’s one technology that embodies the unreasonable demands of the always-on work culture that pervades so many companies...

Stop Confusing Habits for Routines: What You Need To Know

Stop Confusing Habits for Routines: What You Need To Know

Trying to build good habits can often backfire. Here’s why it’s important to know how habits are formed and when it’s better to stick with a routine instead.Habits are hot. Self-help articles extol the power of habits and books on the topic sell by the millions. Yet,...

Learn How To Avoid Distraction In A World That Is Full Of It

Learn How To Avoid Distraction In A World That Is Full Of It

Distraction is a curse of modern life. Between our cell phones and computer screens, not to mention our kids and coworkers, our attention is constantly being diverted. It can become difficult to focus on any one task—or any one person—for very long. If anything, the...

[Focus Guide] How To Make The Most Out Of Your Time And Your Life

[Focus Guide] How To Make The Most Out Of Your Time And Your Life

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote that “few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.”[footnote]Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (New York:...

The One Fitness App That Hooked Me For Good

Nir's Note: This article is part of a series on "The Hooked Model in Action." Previous analyses have included Slack, Fortnite, Amazon's Echo, Tinder, and The Bible App. Note, I never take compensation for writing articles on my blog. Could there be a behavior more...

Fundamental Attribution Error: Why You Make Lousy Life Choices

Fundamental Attribution Error: Why You Make Lousy Life Choices

Nir’s Note: This post part of a series on cognitive bias co-authored by Nir Eyal and illustrated by Lakshmi Mani. Discover other reasons you make terrible life choices like confirmation bias, hyperbolic discounting, distinction bias, extrinsic motivation, hindsight...

Here’s How Fortnite ‘Hooked’ Millions

Here’s How Fortnite ‘Hooked’ Millions

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Patricio O’Gorman, technology consultant and professor at Universidad de Palermo. If you have kids, you’ve likely heard about Fortnite. The wildly popular online battle game has amassed over 125 million players and hosts more than 3...

The Real Reason Apple and Google Want You to Use Your Phone Less

The Real Reason Apple and Google Want You to Use Your Phone Less

This week Apple follows Google by announcing features to help people cut back on their tech use. Why would the companies that make your phone want you to use it less? If tech is “hijacking your brain” with their “irresistible” products, as some tech critics claim, why...

How Bad is Tech Use for Kids, Really?

How Bad is Tech Use for Kids, Really?

It feels impossible to tell if the technology our kids use should be celebrated or feared. A few years ago I wrote a book, Hooked, about how technology can be used to change our habits. I intended the book to teach startups how to build healthy habits, but now I’m not...

How Apps Can Shape Your Future Self

How Apps Can Shape Your Future Self

Nir's Note: This guest post is written by Jeni Fisher, a London-based Googler who consults startups on applying behavioral insights to achieve business and user goals. Early on in my role as an Apps partner manager at Google Play, I was drawn towards the...

How to Be Indistractable: Video by Nir Eyal

How to Be Indistractable: Video by Nir Eyal

In this talk, I describe a new model for managing distraction — how to become "Indistractable." I'll write more on this topic in the coming months and I'm finishing a book with the same title. Also, please share this video with people who may benefit from watching it....

Peak-End Rule: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Nir’s Note: This post part of a series on cognitive bias co-authored with and illustrated by Lakshmi Mani. Discover other reasons you make terrible life choices like confirmation bias, hyperbolic discounting, distinction bias, extrinsic motivation, hindsight bias,...

How Netflix’s Customer Obsession Created a Customer Obsession

How Netflix’s Customer Obsession Created a Customer Obsession

Nir's Note: This guest post is by Gibson Biddle, former VP at Netflix and CPO at Chegg. Gibson is speaking at the Habit Summit in San Francisco on April 11th.  In 2005, as I joined Netflix as VP of Product, I asked Reed Hastings, the CEO, what he hoped his legacy...

Distinction Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Nir’s Note: This post part of a series on cognitive bias co-authored with and illustrated by Lakshmi Mani. Discover other reasons you make terrible life choices like confirmation bias, hyperbolic discounting, extrinsic motivation, fundamental attribution...

Want to Design User Behavior? Pass the ‘Regret Test’ First

Want to Design User Behavior? Pass the ‘Regret Test’ First

What are the ethical responsibilities of companies that are able to manipulate human behavior on a massive scale? It’s a question one hopes technologists and designers ask themselves when building world-changing products — but one that hasn’t been asked often enough....

Confirmation Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

You walk into your first yoga class. You’re a little insecure about your weight and how your yoga clothes cling to your body revealing every flaw. You’re nervous about making a fool of yourself. Your eyes instantly zoom onto the fit model-esque people chatting in the corner. As you walk past them, your ears pick up the tinkle of laughter. My god, are they laughing at me?
How to Regain Focus at Work by Slaying the Messaging Monster

How to Regain Focus at Work by Slaying the Messaging Monster

Technology is taking over our lives, especially in the workplace. What can we do to put technology in its place to finally get focused work done? Below are resources, tools, and articles for regaining focus in your digital life. These are tools I use myself but is not...

How to Trigger Product Usage that Sticks

Nir's Note: This guest post is by Janet Choi, Senior Manager of Product Marketing and Content at Customer.ioMeditation, like any healthy habit, takes repetition to stick. But while the folks behind Calm, a meditation and mindfulness app, knew their product’s core...

Hyperbolic Discounting: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Hyperbolic Discounting: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Have you ever had a mounting pile of work you know you need to do but for some reason didn’t? Yet you put it off, turn on Netflix, and fantasize about how you’re going to crush it tomorrow. Hyperbolic discounting is why you procrastinate and choose smaller payoffs now over larger rewards later.
Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Darren Austin, Partner Director of Product Management at Microsoft. Last year we added a new member to our household. I must admit that upon first meeting her, our initial impression was that she was a little creepy. Today though, we...

Technology Is Not Hijacking Your Brain (video)

Some tech critics will have you believe that technology is "hijacking your brain" or that it's "irresistible." Not only is that not true, believing such nonsense is dangerous. In my recent talk at The Next Web conference, I discuss: The difference between...

When Distraction is a Good Thing

When Distraction is a Good Thing

Is distraction a curse or a blessing? Not giving full attention to what we should be doing makes us miss deadlines, fail classes, and crash into other drivers. Distraction certainly has a price.  Nonetheless, we love our distractions! Social media, spectator sports,...

How to Use Psychology to Make Persuasive Video

How to Use Psychology to Make Persuasive Video

Nir's Note: This guest post is excerpted from Nathalie Nahai's best-selling book, Webs Of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion. A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.  - Alan Rickman, ActorWhat...

Tech Companies are Addicting People! But Should They Stop?

Tech Companies are Addicting People! But Should They Stop?

To understand technology addiction (or any addiction for that matter) you need to understand the Q-tip. Perhaps you've never noticed there’s a scary warning on every box of cotton swabs that reads, “CAUTION: Do not enter ear canal…Entering the ear canal could cause...

How to Use Personality Science to Drive Online Conversions

Nir's Note: This guest post is by Vanessa Van Edwards, lead investigator at the Science of People — a human behavior research lab. This exclusive book excerpt is from Vanessa's new book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, which was recently named as one...

Technology Is Distracting. Here’s How to Fix It. (Video)

Our personal technology is becoming more pervasive and persuasive. Critics claim it is addictive, irresistible, and hijacking our brains. Instead of offering another knee-jerk reaction, here's my take on the peril and promise of persuasive technology. This is the talk...

The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower

The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Paulette Perhach. Paulette writes about finances, psychology, technology, travel, and better living for the likes of The New York Times, Elle, and Slate. I learned how to respect authority from my father. At the top of a huge water...

Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break

Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break

Until recently, when I needed a break I’d grab my phone. Whether I was bored, mentally fatigued, or just wanting a pick-me-up, I felt relief checking the news, Facebook, or Instagram. However, new research suggests there are good ways and not-so-good ways to spend our...

The Unbelievable Future of Habit-Forming Technology

The Unbelievable Future of Habit-Forming Technology

Nir’s Note: Jane McGonigal is a game designer at The Institute for the Future and bestselling author of Reality is Broken and SuperBetter. She’ll be speaking at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview with Max Ogles, McGonigal...

Why Our Tech Obsession Might Be a Work Obsession

Why Our Tech Obsession Might Be a Work Obsession

Nir's Note: Below is the transcript of an interview I did with David Burkus, an award-winning podcaster and author of Under New Management: The Unexpected Truths about Leading Great Organizations. This interview was part of a Heleo Conversation on the topic of...

The Secret Marketing Power of Evolutionary Psychology

The Secret Marketing Power of Evolutionary Psychology

Nir’s Note: Gad Saad is a professor of marketing at Concordia University and the author of The Consuming Instinct. He’ll be speaking at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview with Max Ogles, Saad discusses the role of...

Don’t Ask People What They Want, Watch What They Do

Don’t Ask People What They Want, Watch What They Do

Nir’s Note: Irene Au is a design partner at Khosla Ventures and former Head of Design at Google, Yahoo, and Udacity. She’ll be speaking at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview, she chats with Max Ogles about design strategy...

How to Achieve Your Goals By Creating an Enemy

How to Achieve Your Goals By Creating an Enemy

DJ Khaled, the one-man internet meme, is known for warning his tens of millions of social media followers about a group of villains he calls “they.” “They don’t want you motivated. They don’t want you inspired,” he blares on camera. “They don’t want you to win,”...

How Cognitive Biases Can Help (and Hurt) Your Business

How Cognitive Biases Can Help (and Hurt) Your Business

Nir’s Note: Buster Benson is a former product manager at Slack who worked previously at Twitter and Habit Labs and is working on a new book about productive disagreements. In this interview, he chats with Max Ogles about how cognitive biases affect product design. Q:...

What Most People Don’t Know About Behavioral Design

What Most People Don’t Know About Behavioral Design

Nir’s Note: Susan Weinschenk is a behavioral scientist, author, and speaker at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview, she chats with Max Ogles about some of the overlooked principles of behavioral design. Q: You’re the author...

How to Start a Career in Behavioral Design

How to Start a Career in Behavioral Design

Whether called behavioral design, product psychology, or behavioral science, there’s never been this level of interest, excitement, or opportunities to understand the quirks of the human mind and use this knowledge to change how people live.
How to Stay Informed Without Losing Your Mind

How to Stay Informed Without Losing Your Mind

Around the election, in a desperate search for answers about our nation’s future, I found myself scrolling, reading, and watching everything I could. I was trapped in an endless pull-to-refresh cycle of consuming more news, tweets, posts, and videos than was good for...

What Do You Do When Someone “Steals” Your Amazing Idea?

What Do You Do When Someone “Steals” Your Amazing Idea?

The subject line read: “did you see this?” The message was from my editor Jen. “Nir, I saw the headline on this story and thought it might be written by you—but no!” she wrote. “Very weird.” I instantly clicked on the link she’d sent. It was uncanny! An article...

The Way You Think About Willpower Is Hurting You

The Way You Think About Willpower Is Hurting You

Not so long ago, my after work routine looked like this: After a particularly grueling day, I'd sit on the couch and veg for hours, doing my solo version of "Netflix and chill," which meant keeping company with a cold pint of ice cream. I knew the ice cream, and the...

Your World is Full of Placebo Buttons (and That’s a Good Thing)

Your World is Full of Placebo Buttons (and That’s a Good Thing)

All products and services, everything we buy and use, have but one job—to modulate our mood. The fundamental reason we use technology of all sorts, from stone tools to the latest iPhone, is to make us feel better. To prove the point, consider how perception of relief...

How to Build Technology that Feels Like a Friend

How to Build Technology that Feels Like a Friend

It’s impossible to ignore all the buzz about AI bots. Last month, Facebook’s David Marcus announced that over 30,000 bots have been built since the opening of its Messenger app to bot developers in April. Other companies like Google, Amazon, and Slack are welcoming bot-building developers to their platforms with open arms.
This Weird Research-Backed Goal Setting Hack Actually Works

This Weird Research-Backed Goal Setting Hack Actually Works

Nir's Note: This article on goal setting was originally published in early 2016 but got such a great reader response that I decided to expand and update it along with adding the video below.Over the past four years, I’ve discovered many incredible ways to hack my...

3 Pillars of the Most Successful Tech Products

If you’ve started a tech company to make a lot of money, chances are you’re bad at math—or simply delusional. Statistically speaking, your odds of a big-time payday are somewhere between zero and almost zero.Ninety-two percent of startups fail within three years....

Here’s How to Ethically Manipulate Other People

Are we using behavioral design (and ethical manipulation) for good? How do we know? Now that we have the power to profoundly change peoples' habits through technology, how do change behavior ethically?Manipulation Matrix In this short video, I talk to Amir Shevat,...

How Two Companies Hooked Customers On Products They Rarely Use

Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), has a quirky way of deciding which companies he likes. It’s called “The Toothbrush Test.” According to the New York Times, when Page looks at a potential company to acquire, he wants to know if the...

Conquer Distractions With This Simple Chart

Is the world more distracting? Sometimes it seems that way. With our digital devices buzzing, world events demanding our attention, and more things to entertain us than ever before, it certainly seems harder to focus on what’s really important. And yet, focus is...

How to Hook Users in 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing

Changing user habits isn't easy -- but understanding how to conduct Habit Testing will increase your odds of success. In this video, I provide a brief introduction to the three steps of Habit Testing. I explain how product designers use these steps to identify their...

The Four People Addicting You to Technology

Recently, the Pokemon Go phenomenon has reigniting the question of technology's role in changing behavior. To put things in perspective, I wanted to share the main points of an article I published on the topic titled, Who’s Really Addicting Us to Technology?, in a...

Die Dashboards, Die! Why Conversations Will Reinvent Software

In years to come, conversations will breathe new life into software—particularly the boring enterprise tools millions of knowledge workers begrudgingly use every day. Conversational user interfaces (CUIs) work because of our familiarity with messaging. Even the most...

Three Steps To Get Up To Speed On Any Subject Quickly

You have just a few days to learn everything there is to know about a subject you know nothing about. Now what? "Don’t boil the ocean," Terry said as he slapped a tall stack of papers on my desk. "Just tell us what we need to know." I was staring at a serious problem....

It’s How You React to Failure that Matters: Why Ego is the Enemy

Nir's Note: This guest post is an excerpt from my friend Ryan Holiday's new book, Ego Is the Enemy. Ryan is the author of three other books and his monthly reading recommendations, which go out to 50,000+ subscribers, can be found here. It can ruin your life only if...

How to Win Your Competition’s Customers

About a year ago, I wrote an essay about how to win your competition's customers habits. Today, I'd like to share a quick video of the ideas in that article. Let me know what you think about this format and if you'd like to see more videos like this one...Related...

Hooked for Good: How Habit-Forming Products Improve Lives

Below is my opening presentation from Habit Summit highlighting examples of companies changing user behavior for good.BTW - If you couldn't attend the Habit Summit, you can get access to the presentations you missed here.Related Articles[catlist name=hooked-resources...

Good Products Start With Good Questions

Nir's Note: My friend Jake Knapp just published a fantastic book titled, Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. The book details a process he and his colleagues at Google Ventures use to quickly go from idea, to prototype, to live...

Happiness Hack: This One Ritual Made Me Much Happier

When my wife and I moved to New York City in 2001, recently graduated from college and newly wed, we were eager to find friends. We knew nearly no one but were sure we’d soon find a fun-loving group like the 20- and 30-something New Yorkers who spontaneously dropped...

Who’s Really Addicting You to Technology?

“Nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet,” wrote Tony Schwartz in a recent essay in The New York Times. It’s a common complaint these days. A steady stream of similar headlines accuse the Net and its offspring apps, social media sites and...

How to Clear Your Computer of Focus-Draining Distraction

By the looks of his laptop, Robbert Van Els could be mistaken for a secret agent. His screen is an explosion of urgent files — a master control center for managing clandestine operatives. The man of mystery persona is typified by a side-sliding sports car winding...

Human + A.I. = Your Digital Future

In the new film Ex Machina, a reclusive billionaire invents a robotic artificial intelligence. To test whether his invention is indistinguishable from a human being, he helicopters-in a young engineer to see if he falls in love with the robot. Today, making machines...

Why ‘Assistant-As-App’ Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend

Whenever I feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, that’s when I know I should write about it. So here goes. This article is about how a new way of designing apps changed my life. But to explain the power of this trend, I need to tell you about poop. That’s the...

Un-Hooked: Increasing Focus in the Age of Distraction

I recently presented a new talk about how to manage digital distraction using the Hooked Model. I hope you enjoy the brief video below.Also, I've been thinking of writing more on this topic. Let me know what you think. Is this an interesting topic? Do you struggle...

The Behavioral Economics Diet: The Science of Killing a Bad Habit

Diets don’t work. Studies show that temporary fixes to old habits actually make people gain weight. Essentially, the dieter’s brain is trained to gorge when off the diet and inevitably the weight returns. In my previous essay, I shared the story of my father's...

The Mind-Hack I Used to Help My Father Lose Weight

When my family immigrated to the United States in 1981, my father weighed 185 pounds. He came chasing the American dream but got more than he expected. Along with a new, more prosperous life for his family, he also acquired some bad habits. For one, he took up smoking...

4 Ways to Win Your Competitor’s Customer Habits (Slides)

After the slide presentation I posted about "The Secret Psychology of Snapchat" received such a warm response from readers, I decided to create another set of slides. This presentation is about how to win over your competition's customer habits. I hope you enjoy it....

4 Cures for Feeling Overwhelmed: A Book Review

Nir’s Note: This book review is by Sam McNerney. Sam writes about cognitive psychology, business, and philosophy.Many of us feel we’re drowning in the rising tide of emails, updates, and digital distractions. According to a survey by the Families and Work Institute,...

The Secret Psychology of Snapchat

You've undoubtedly heard of Snapchat, the habit-forming messaging service used by over 100 million people monthly. This week, I teamed up with Victoria Young and Dori Adar to help explain what makes the app so sticky. We decided that instead of writing a long blog...

Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

I had just finished giving a speech on building habits when a woman in the audience exclaimed, "You teach how to create habits, but that's not my problem. I'm fat!" The frustration in her voice echoed throughout the room. "My problem is stopping bad habits. That's why...

Everything Is Obvious (Once You Know The Answer) Book Review

Here's the Gist: Duncan Watts is a sociologist and principal researcher at Microsoft Research. His latest book is Everything Is Obvious (Once You Know the Answer): How Common Sense Fails Us. Personal preference, though not entirely arbitrary, is likely constructed and...

Your Fitness App is Making You Fat, Here’s Why

Your Fitness App is Making You Fat, Here’s Why

Fitness apps are all the rage. An explosion of new companies and products want to track your steps and count your calories with the aim of melting that excess blubber. There's just one problem -- most of these apps don't work. In fact, there is good reason to believe...

The Psychology of Notifications: How to Send Triggers that Work

Nir’s Note: This post was co-authored with Ximena Vengoechea. Ximena is a design researcher at Twitter and will be speaking at this year's Habit Summit. In his famed experiments, Ivan Pavlov trained his dogs to associate mealtime with the ring of a bell. Pavlov found...

How Technology Tricks You Into Tipping More

My taxi pulled up to the hotel. I got out my credit card and prepared to pay for the ride. The journey was pleasant enough but little did I know I was about to encounter a bit of psychological trickery designed to get me to pay more for the lift. Chances are you’re...

Building Community Starts with Understanding People

Building Community Starts with Understanding People

Curated by Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, a site and community for discovering the latest tech products, backed by Andreessen Horowitz. Ryan is the contributing writer of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, and blogs on startups, marketing, and product...

When Persuasion Becomes Deception

When Persuasion Becomes Deception

Curated by Harry Brignull, freelance UX consultant, user researcher, and expert witness. Harry has a PhD in Cognitive Science and is the founder of Dark Patterns, a site dedicated to naming and shaming websites that use deceptive user interfaces. Harry blogs at...

Mastering Pricing Principles

Mastering Pricing Principles

Curated by Gregory Ciotti, part of the content marketing team at Shopify and prior to that, Customer Champion at Help Scout. Gregory writes essays on human behavior on his blog, Sparring Mind.There's a reason people on Craigslist are always overvaluing their crap: the...

3 Ways to Make Better Decisions Using “The Power of Noticing”

Nir’s Note: This book review is by Sam McNerney. Sam writes about cognitive psychology, business, and philosophy.In Moneyball, Michael Lewis tells the story of Billy Bean, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics who transformed the A’s using sabermetrics, the...

A Handy Behavioral Design Toolkit

A Handy Behavioral Design Toolkit

Curated by Jason Hreha, former Global Head of Behavioral Science at Walmart. Jason is the co-author of abook on applied behavioral economics with Dan Ariely and Kristen Berman and used to be a Researcher in the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab–led by BJ Fogg, author...

Onboarding Matters – Getting Users Engaged in your Product

Onboarding Matters – Getting Users Engaged in your Product

Curated by Josh Elman, Venture Partner at Greylock, where he led investments in Medium, Discord, Jelly, Mammoth Media, and other companies. Previously, Josh was an early employee of LinkedIn, launched Facebook Connect while at Facebook, and helped Twitter grow its...

The Limits of Loyalty: When Habits Change, You’re Toast

“I’m endlessly loyal,” my wife said, staring straight into my eyes. But she wasn’t talking about our marriage -- she was pledging her allegiance to a piece of software. “I’ll never quit Microsoft Office,” she told me. “It does too much for me to leave it.” For a...

Dual Process Theory: Is Your Product the Elephant or the Rider?

Dual Process Theory: Is Your Product the Elephant or the Rider?

Curated by Steve Wendel, a behavioral scientist and the Founder of the Action Design Network, and the author of the book Designing for Behavior Change, which gives step by step guidance on using behavioral techniques to help your users take action.Dual Process...

4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition’s Customers

Let’s say you’ve built the next big thing. You’re ready to take on the world and make billions. Your product is amazing and you’re convinced you’ve bested the competition. As a point of fact, you know you offer the very best solution in your market. But here’s the...

Web Psychology – The Science of Online Persuasion

Web Psychology – The Science of Online Persuasion

Curated by Nathalie Nahai, international speaker, and best-selling author of Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion. She coined the term 'web psychology' , defining it as 'the empirical study of how our online environments influence our attitudes and...

Email Habits: How to Use Psychology to Regain Control

"You teach best what you most need to learn." - Richard Bach I don't usually write about personal and revealing matters, but recently I've noticed something I don't like about myself--I check email too often. This confession doesn't come easily, because, ironically, I...

Developing User Empathy with Design Sprints

Developing User Empathy with Design Sprints

Curated by Alex Baldwin, Designer at Envoy. Alex served as the CΧO at Hack Design and designer at Envoy. Previously, he's worked as a designer-in-residence with Techstars and 500 Startups. You can find him climbing nature, disc jockeying, drinking lattes, or possibly...

The Real Reason “Stupid” Startups Raise So Much Money

The Real Reason “Stupid” Startups Raise So Much Money

Have you noticed all the startups raising massive sums of money recently? Perhaps you’ve scratched your head wondering how a company like Buzzfeed, known for its website full of animated gifs, listicles and quizzes, just raised $50 million dollars, valuing the company...

Want To Be A Game Psychologist? What You Need to Know

Want To Be A Game Psychologist? What You Need to Know

Curated by Jamie Madigan, Ph.D., originator of psychologyofgames.com where you can find his writings. Jamie writes and talks about how psychology can be used to understand how games are made, played, and sold. He has written on the subject for various websites and...

The Psychology Behind Why We Can’t Stop Messaging

Today, there’s an app for just about everything. With all the amazing things our smartphones can do, there is one thing that hasn’t changed since the phone was first developed. No matter how advanced phones become, they are still communication devices — they connect...

How to Do Effective User Research

How to Do Effective User Research

Curated by Steph Habif, Behavior Designer at Habif Health. Steph is a behavioral scientist with 10+ years of experience leading healthcare teams on ways to design for consumer engagement. She specializes in user research and behavior design and has worked with...

Context Driven Design (The “Context Effect”)

Context Driven Design (The “Context Effect”)

Curated by Michal Levin, Senior User Experience Designer at Google. She is also the author of the book Designing Multi-Device Experiences by O'Reilly Media, offering a new context-driven approach to designing user experiences across devices. In a UX career of over 10...

Writing Copy for Your Reader’s Brain

Writing Copy for Your Reader’s Brain

Curated by Roger Dooley, an international keynote speaker and consultant. He is the author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (Wiley), and he writes the popular blog Neuromarketing, as well as Brainy Marketing at...

Mind Hacking a Book

“Hi Nir,” the email began. “I have been reading your work and find it incredibly interesting.” Naturally, this is the kind of message a blogger loves to receive. However, this email was special for another reason. It was from a prominent New York publishing agent who...

Designing Habit-Forming Products

Designing Habit-Forming Products

Curated by Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products. Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. Nir is a co-creator of this course.How do companies design experiences to...

Framing Reward is as Important as Reward Itself

On May 1, 1981, American Airlines launched its frequent flyer program AAdvantage. Since then, a flood of loyalty programs have attempted to bring customers back through rewards. Today, you can become a card-carrying member of just about anything: hotels, supermarkets,...

Games, Play, and Motivation

Games, Play, and Motivation

Curated by Stephen P. Anderson, an internationally recognized speaker and consultant based out of Dallas, Texas. He created the Mental Notes card deck, a tool that's widely used by product teams to apply psychology to interaction design. He’s also of the author of the...

How Scarcity & Impatience Drive Irrational User Behavior

How Scarcity & Impatience Drive Irrational User Behavior

Curated by Yu-kai Chou, President of Octalysis Group. Yu-kai is a gamification pioneer and President of Octalysis Group, as well as an international keynote speaker and lecturer at Stanford, TEDx, SxSW, and Accenture. Yu-kai was rated the "Top Gamification Guru" by...

Habits, Obstacles, and Media Manipulation with Ryan Holiday

This week I chat with Ryan Holiday, an author, hacker, and self-described “media manipulator.” Ryan Holiday’s new book “The Obstacle is the Way” takes an interesting look at how challenges shape and improve our lives. We discuss the personal habits Ryan integrated...

Should You Listen To Your Users or Your Data?

Should You Listen To Your Users or Your Data?

Curated by Matthew Pearson, Behavioral Economist at Airbnb. As a former user researcher on Airbnb's design team with a background in behavioral economics, Matthew brings methods and insights from economics and psychology to bear on the user experience, particularly as...

Emotional Engagement – Designing with the Heart in Mind

Emotional Engagement – Designing with the Heart in Mind

Curated by Paul Sas, Behavioral Economist at Intuit. Paul was Intuit’s Behavioral Economist from 2012 to 2015, working with Mint, Quick Books, and TurboTax to deliver the most emotionally engaging product experiences. Paul got his PhD in experimental psychology at...

A Free Course on User Behavior

A Free Course on User Behavior

I do quite a bit of research, writing, and consulting on product psychology — the deeper reasons underlying why users do what they do. I also frequently teach and speak on the topic. Invariably, after each talk, someone approaches me and asks, “That was very...

Product Psychology: The 3 Things Everyone Should Know About

Product Psychology: The 3 Things Everyone Should Know About

Curated by Nir Eyal. Nir Eyal is the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life and Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at...

Getting Traction: How to Hook New Users

Nir’s Note: Justin Mares is the co-author of the new book Traction, a startup guide to getting customers. Justin's framework provides a simple way for new marketers to discover their most effective triggers. Get 3 chapters of Justin's book free at tractionbook.com. In...

Designing for Behavior Change Book Review

Nir’s Note: This guest post comes from Marc Abraham, a London-based product manager. In this article, Marc reviews the recently published book Designing for Behavior Change by Stephan Wendel. Follow Marc on Twitter.Behavioral economics, psychology and persuasive...

The Sneaky Trick Behind the Explosive Growth of the Kardashian Game

Recently, I started looking into the explosively popular new game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The game has ranked at or near the top of Apple’s U.S. App Store charts for the most downloaded free game. Industry watchers say the app could gross $200 million annually and...

The Sweet Spot: Where Technology Meets the Motivational Brain

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Dr. Marc Lewis, who studies the psychology and neuroscience of addiction. After years of active research, Marc now talks, writes, and blogs about the science and experience of addiction and how people outgrow it. Visit his website...

The Number One Reason Good Habits Don’t Last

Nir’s Note: This guest post is written by Max Ogles. Max writes at MaxOgles.com about behavior change, psychology, and technology. Sign up for a free copy of his upcoming e-book, “9 Ways to Motivate Yourself Using Psychology and Technology.” A commonly quoted and...

How Successful Companies Design for Users’ Multi-Device Lives

Nir's Note: This guest post comes from Marc Abraham, a London-based product manager at Beamly. In this article, Marc reviews the recently published book "Designing Multi-Device Experiences" by Michal Levin. Follow Marc on Twitter or check out his blog.We live in a...

The Link Between Habits and User Satisfaction

Nir's Note: In this essay, Ryan Stuczynski and I discuss the relationship between habits and user satisfaction. Ryan was the Director of Analytics at Fab and today leads growth for theSkimm. Follow Ryan on Twitter or Medium.Here's the Gist: People have limited...

What Triggers The Best Word of Mouth Marketing?

Nir's Note: Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School and author of the New York Times bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On.  Contagious explains the science behind word of mouth, how six key factors drive products and ideas to become popular,...

Is Some Tech Too Engaging?

Addiction can be a difficult thing to see. From outward appearances, Dr. Zoe Chance looked fine. A professor at the Yale School of Management with a doctorate from Harvard, Chance's pedigree made what she revealed in front of a crowded TEDx audience all the more...

Can Online Apps Change Real-Life Behavior?

Nir’s Note: This guest post is written by Max Ogles. Max is an editor for NirAndFar.com and heads marketing for CoachAlba.com, a mobile health startup. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog at MaxOgles.com.Weight gain happens pound by pound, over many years, and...

What Tech Companies Can Learn from Rehab

Nir’s Note: This guest post is written by Max Ogles. Max is an editor for NirAndFar.com and heads marketing for CoachAlba.com, a mobile health startup. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog at MaxOgles.com.Last year, The Huffington Post published some fascinating...

Auction Addiction: This Online Industry’s Dirty Secrets

Nir's Note: This guest post was authored by Lisa Kostova Ogata, one of the first product managers at Farmville and a VP of Product at Bright.com (sold to LinkedIn). While at Zynga, Lisa learned how to shape user behavior, but in this essay she describes her surprise...

Teach or Hook? What’s the Real Goal of Online Education?

Nir's Note: This guest post is written by Ali Rushdan Tariq. Ali writes about design, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation on his blog, The Innovator's Odyssey. As I clicked the big green “Take This Course” button, I became acutely aware of an uneasy feeling....

Using Mind Control to Raise Startup Cash

Nir's Note: This guest post is written by Michael Simpson. Michael is the co-author of The Secret of Raising Money, which he wrote with Seth Goldstein. Raising money for a startup is like sex. The more unattainable you seem, the better your chances of getting lucky....

How To Build Habits In A Multi-Device World

Nir's Note:Michal Levin asked me to write this essay for her new book, Designing Multi-Device Experiences. Allow me to take liberties with a philosophical question reworked for our digital age. If an app fails in the App Store and no one is around to use it, does it...

How To Cope with Your Insane Jealousy Of The WhatsApp Deal

Wednesday was my birthday. It should have been a great day. My wife and daughter had prepared a delicious breakfast, I had lunch with close friends, and I finished up some writing and client work. At the end of the day I headed to San Francisco to enjoy a swanky...

Why Do Fads Fade? The Inevitable Death Of Flappy Bird

Nir’s Note: Parts of this article are adapted from Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products. On February 8, 2014, an app called Flappy Bird held the coveted No. 1 spot in the Apple App Store. The app’s 29-year-old creator, Dong Nguyen, reported earning...

You’d Be Surprised By What Really Motivates Users

Nir's Note: This article is adapted from Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products, a book I wrote with Ryan Hoover and originally appeared on TechCrunch. Earlier this month, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone unveiled his mysterious startup Jelly. The...

Nostalgia: A Product Designer’s Secret Weapon

Nir's Note: In this guest post, Ryan Hoover, contributing writer of my book Hooked, describes how nostalgia is used to drive attention and build an engaging product. Follow @rrhoover or visit his blog to read more about startups and product design. Remember pogs?...

How You Can Help Users Change Habits

Nir’s Note: This guest post comes from Stephen Wendel, Principal Scientist at HelloWallet and the author of Designing for Behavior Change. Steve's new book is about how to apply behavioral economics to product development. Follow him on twitter @sawendel.It can be...

Is “Lean Startup” Right for Your Idea?

Nir's Note: Lyle McKeany is an entrepreneur writing and working on an early-stage startup. In this essay, he shares his experience using lean startup methodologies with my Hooked Model at the Lean Startup Machine conference. This article also appears today on Pando...

Are Companies Too Obsessed With Growth? How to Measure Habits

Nir’s Note: In this guest post, Abhay Vardhan, discusses how to measure the strength of user habits with cohort analysis and retention rate. Abhay is a founder of Blippy.com and blogs at abhayv.com. Follow Abhay on Twitter @abhayvardhan. Imagine an entrepreneur showed...

Refresh: The App a Secret Agent Would Love

A few minutes before his helicopter touched down in a covert military base just outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tommy Thompson reached for his secret weapon. He was about to meet with top Afghan officials and he needed to ensure he hit his mark. But Thompson's mission...

3 Ways I Use Technology to Find Happiness

Nir’s Note: This guest post comes from Brendan Kane who has built technology for MTV, Paramount, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and the NHL. In this article, Brendan describes how he reprogramed the way he views the world using little more than his iPhone and iPad to find...

In 10 Years, We Won’t Use Personal Technology

Nir's Note: In this guest post, user experience designer Aaron Wilson, discusses a deep flaw of our digital devices and makes an audacious prediction about the future of consumer technology. Follow Aaron on Twitter @aarowilso. No one wants to make a mistake like the...

How to Break 5 Soul-Sucking Technology Habits

Nir's Note: In this last in a series of guest posts on the topic of technology habits, Jason Shah shares practical tips he used to regain control over his devices and break bad habits. Jason is a Product Manager at Yammer and blogs about user experience and technology...

4 Simple Things I Did to Control My Bad Tech Habits

Nir’s Note: In this guest post, Sharbani Roy explores techniques she used to break bad habits related to eating, sleeping and exercising. Sharbani blogs at sharbaniroy.com and you can follow her on twitter @Sharbani. It’s 2 AM and you’re exhausted, but unable to...

The Real Reason You’re Addicted to Your Phone

Nir's Note: I no longer agree with this article. It's been several years since it was written by Avi Itzkovitch and published to my site and I'm leaving it up for posterity. But after extensive research, I do not think it properly depicts "addiction." Please see my...

“Yes, And”: The Two Words that Created a #1 App

Nir’s Note: In contrast to last week's post on the power of saying "no," Eric Clymer shares how a creative attitude helped his team build a #1 ranked app. Eric was the lead developer of the “A Beautiful Mess” app and is a Partner at Rocket Mobile.In improv comedy,...

The Power of No

Nir's Note: Is "no" the most powerful word in the English language? In this guest post Chikodi Chima explores the power of no and what happens when people say, "No." Chikodi is a former VentureBeat staff reporter who helps startups with their public relations and...

From Laid to Paid: How Tinder Set Fire to Online Dating

Nir's Note: In this guest post, Ryan Hoover takes a look at Tinder, a red hot dating app. Ryan dives into what makes the Tinder app so popular and engaging. Ryan blogs at ryanhoover.me and you can follow him on Twitter at rrhoover. Tinder, a hot new entrant in the...

What if In-App Purchases Came to Real Life?

What if In-App Purchases Came to Real Life?

Nir’s Note: In this guest post, Jonathan Libov explores free-to-play apps with in-app purchases, and takes a wry look into our future. You can connect with him on Twitter at @libovness or visit his website, Whoo.ps.Three-card Monte is a classic street hustler's game....

To Become a Superstar, Improve Your Strengths (Not Your Faults)

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Auren Hoffman, the CEO of LiveRamp in San Francisco. This essay is a bit different from the normal subject matter on the blog but I hope it will stir some discussion about which of our personal habits are worth improving. Connect with...

Hooking Users One Snapchat at a Time

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Ryan Hoover. Ryan blogs at ryanhoover.me and you can follow him on Twitter at @rrhoover. When Snapchat first launched, critics discounted the photo-messaging app as a fad - a toy for sexting and selfies. Their judgements were...

How To Save Your Startup From The “Spotlight Effect”

Nir's Note: This guest post is by Max Ogles, a writer and entrepreneur based in Utah. Connect with him on Twitter at @maxogles.In the beginning of 2010, when daily deals site Groupon was really hitting its stride and copycat businesses were popping up left and right,...

Bible App: Getting 100M Downloads is Psychology, Not a Miracle

Bible App: Getting 100M Downloads is Psychology, Not a Miracle

Nir's Note: An edited version of this essay appeared in The Atlantic. Below is my original. It’s not often an app has the power to keep someone out of a strip club. But according to Bobby Gruenewald, CEO of YouVersion, that’s exactly what his Bible app did. Gruenewald...

Why Behavior Change Apps Fail to Change Behavior

Imagine walking into a busy mall when someone approaches you with an open hand. “Would you have some coins to take the bus, please?” he asks. But in this case, the person is not a panhandler. The beggar is a PhD. As part of a French study, researchers wanted to know...

How to Boost Desire Using the Psychology of Scarcity

Interested in boosting customer desire? A classic study that demonstrates the psychology of scarcity reveals an interesting quirk of human behavior that may hold a clue. In 1975, researchers Worchel, Lee, and Adewole wanted to know how people would value cookies in...

Marketplaces & The Curse of the Network Effect

Ethan Stock lived the Silicon Valley dream. He had recently sold his company to eBay and emanated the tanned skin and relaxed composure you'd expect of someone who just cashed a big corporate check. But as we sat across from one another in a Palo Alto coffee shop, I...

Today’s Behaviors, Tomorrow’s Startups

Nir’s Note: In this guest post, Ryan Hoover takes a look at how new behaviors are shaping tech opportunities. Ryan blogs at ryanhoover.me and you can follow him on Twitter at rrhoover. Startups that build a product attached to nascent behaviors have an opportunity to...

Venture Capital and The Superstitious Investor

Nir's Note: This guest post comes from my friend Jules Maltz, a General Partner at Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), a late-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park. In this article, Jules admits something few people are brave enough to say here in Silicon...

Think You Like What You Like? Think Again

A funny thing happens when you lie to people: they tend to believe. Why shouldn’t they? They lie to themselves all the time. Our minds are wired to respond in predictable ways--among them is perceiving the world the way we want to see it, not necessarily the way it...

Temptation

How do products tempt us? What makes them so alluring? It is easy to assume we crave delicious food or impulsively check email because we find pleasure in the activity. But pleasure is just half the story. Temptation is more than just the promise of reward. Recent...

Our More Engaging World

Nir’s Note: A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief post summarizing some thoughts for a potential book chapter. I asked my readers for help and you delivered! The comments were fantastic and I received several insightful emails. Therefore, I've decided to continue with the...

The Future is Driven by Interface Changes

Nir’s Note: In this guest post Ryan Hoover takes a look at how interface changes drive innovation. Ryan blogs at ryanhoover.me and you can follow him on Twitter at rrhoover.What do motorized vehicles, broadband internet, and smartphones have in common? These...

Why Business Is Obsessed With Habits

Nir's Note: This post is a little different from my normal writing. For one, its much shorter. You'll notice I provide fewer citations and the ideas are less developed than my previous essays. This is intentional and I need your help. I'm considering writing a chapter...

Viral Loops Or Viral ‘Oops’?

Viral Loops Or Viral ‘Oops’?

Not more than 10 days after it launched, the MessageMe chat app company happily announced it had grown to 1 million users. The revelation captured the attention of envious app makers throughout Silicon Valley, all of whom are searching for the secrets of customer...

Making a Marketplace

A Checklist for Online DisruptionOn November 13, 2012, Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital, posted a remarkable essay on his blog. In it, he described the, “10 factors to consider when evaluating digital marketplaces.” Given the tremendous value marketplaces...

Why Positive Thinking is Bad For You

Oliver Burkeman's new book,  The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, challenges many widely-held assumptions. In this video, Burkeman discusses how positivity, goal setting, and visualization, often backfire.Burkeman writes the This...

What Killed Turntable.fm?

Nir's Note: In this guest post, Ryan Hoover, Director of Product at PlayHaven, utilizes my thinking on the "Habit Zone" to shed light on where Turntable.fm fell short. Ryan blogs at ryanhoover.me and you can follow him on Twitter at rrhoover.Remember Turntable? When...

What You Don’t Know About Human Intuition Can Hurt You

Nir's Note: This guest post is by Francesca Gino, an associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the author of "Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan" A few years ago, Joe Marks, then Disney’s...

Designing to Reward our Tribal Sides

We are a species that depend on one another. Scientists theorize humans have specially adapted neurons that help us feel what others feel, providing evidence that we survive through our empathy for others. We’re meant to be part of a tribe and our brains seek out...

This Will Be the Last Article You Read

If the Internet had a voice, I am fairly certain it would sound like the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  “Hello Nir,” it said to me in its low, monotone voice. “Glad to see you again.” “Internet, I just need a few quick things for an article I'm writing,” I’d...

Time for Digital Hat Racks

The first thing Don Draper does when he gets to his office is give his busty secretary a suggestive wink. The second thing he does is take off his fedora. Finally, depending on the severity of the previous night, he completes his morning routine with a stiff drink....

Ways To Get People To Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

A reader recently asked me a pointed question: "I've read your work on creating user habits. It's all well and good for getting people to do things, like using an app on their iPhone, but I've got a bigger problem. How do I get people to do things they don't want to...

The Network Effect Isn’t Good Enough

Note: I'm pleased to have co-authored this post with Sangeet Paul Choudary, who analyzes business models for network businesses at Platformed.info. Follow Sangeet on Twitter at @sanguit. If there is one altar at which Silicon Valley worships, it is the shrine of the...

Escape From Message Hell

We are caught in an endless cycle of messaging hell and the pattern is always the same. First, a new communication system is born -- take email or Facebook, for example. Ease-of-use helps the product gain wide adoption and reach a critical mass of users. And then...

Mass Persuasion, One User At A Time

“Successful entrepreneurs recommend reading this article about the persuasion techniques companies use to drive engagement.” Scratch that, how’s this? “Tons of people are tweeting this article. Find out why.” OK, here's one more. “This article will only be on the...

How Investment Drives Engagement (Slides)

This week, Baba Shiv and I taught a class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business called, "Using Neuroscience to Influence Human Behavior." The course focused on the science behind how consumers make decisions. During the class, we walked through my Hooked Model,...

Getting Your Product Into the Habit Zone

As the web becomes an increasingly crowded place, users are desperate for solutions to sort through the online clutter. The Internet has become a giant hairball of choice-inhibiting noise and the need to make sense of it all has never been more acute. Just ask...

Where Have The Users Gone?

Step 1: Build an app. Step 2: Get users hooked to it. Step 3: Profit. It sounds simple and, given our umbilical ties to cell phones, social media, and email inboxes, it may even sound plausible. Recently, tech entrepreneurs and investors have started to look to...

Infinite Scroll: The Web’s Slot Machine

A few years ago, everyone was clicking. Today, we’re all scrolling. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Medium - it seems everyone is getting on the infinite scroll bus. What is it about this magical design pattern that has so many consumer web companies...

Designing User Habits Video

Video from my recent talk about designing user habits, at the Designers + Geeks Meetup in San Francisco on August 1st, 2012. Note: This Designing User Habits talk is similar to my "Behavior by Design" talk but has approximately 20% new material.If you're reading this...

Psychology of Sports: How Sports Infect Your Brain

Note: I co-authored this post with Andrew Martin and David Ngo. It originally appeared in TechCrunch. This week, fans packed stadiums in London wearing their nation’s colors like rebels ready for battle in Mel Gibson’s army. They screamed with excitement and anguished...

This is Your Brain On Boarding: How to Turn Visitors Into Users

Before you can change the world, before your company can IPO, before getting millions of loyal users to wonder how they ever lived without your service, people need to onboard through an effective user onboarding process. Building the on-ramp to using your product is...

User Investment: Make Your Users Do the Work

The belief that products should always be as easy to use as possible is a sacred cow of the tech world. The rise of design thinking, coinciding with beautiful new products like the iPhone, has led some to conclude that creating slick interfaces is a hallmark of great...

Behavior by Design Video

This presentation of my "Behavior By Design" talk was made possible by Innovation Endeavors, an early-stage venture fund in Palo Alto. Thank you to the Innovation Endeavors team for hosting me. Also, special thanks to Paula Saslow for the fantastic video production....

When Designing for Good Is Bad

We in the design business love when people do what we want. Nothing is more satisfying than when a user intuitively understands what to do with what we've built. At the heart of good design, however, is understanding what the user really wants to get done. But what of...

Stop Building Apps, Start Building User Behaviors

Do you get the feeling apps are getting dumber? They are, and that's a good thing. Behind the surprising simplicity of some of today’s top apps, smart developers are realizing that they're able to get users to do more by doing less. A new crop of companies is setting...

The Morality of Manipulation

Let's admit it, we in the consumer web industry are in the manipulation business. We build products meant to persuade people to do what we want them to do. We call these people "users" and even if we don't say it aloud, we secretly wish every one of them would become...

The Next Secrets of the Internet

Right now, someone is tinkering with a billion dollar secret -- they just don’t know it yet. “What people aren’t telling you,” Peter Thiel taught his class at Stanford, “can very often give you great insight as to where you should be directing your attention.” Secrets...

User Growth and Engagement: A Hacker Metric

If you’re like me, you’ve had enough of the Facebook IPO story. For tech entrepreneurs struggling to build stuff, the cacophony of recent press is just more noise. That’s why when my friend Andrew Chen posted an insightful analysis of Facebook user data, I was happy...

Spotting the Next Facebook: Why Emotions are Big Business

Today Facebook will sell shares in one of the biggest tech IPOs in history. New investors will gobble up the stock to get a piece of the global phenomenon famously started in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room in 2004. But while owning the stock will have quantifiable value...

Strange Sex Habits of Silicon Valley

My wife put our daughter to bed, brushed her teeth, and freshened up before bed. Slipping under the covers, we exchanged glances and knew it was time to do what comes naturally for a couple on a warm night in Silicon Valley. We began to lovingly caress--but not each...

The Billion Dollar Mind Trick: An Intro to Triggers

Note: I'm proud to have co-authored this post with Jason Hreha, the founder of Dopamine, a user-experience and behavior design firm. He blogs at persuasive.lyYin asked not to be identified by her real name. A young addict in her mid-twenties, she lives in Palo Alto...

Why Everyone Hates I.T. People

Quick: what’s the biggest bottleneck in your company? Yup, we both know it’s the Information Technology department. Let’s face it, nobody likes IT people. For all of their technical wizardry, IT is where good ideas go to die. We follow their onerous documentation...

Hooking Users In 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing

 The truly great consumer technology companies of the past 25 years have all had one thing in common: they created habits. This is what separates world-changing businesses from the rest. Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are used daily by a high...

Abolish The Reference Check

Congratulations! You’ve definitely found a winner. Don’t let the candidate return the call and make an offer immediately before someone else does. This scenario has actually happened to me a few times. It’s the best predictor of the quality of candidate I’ve ever seen. We immediately made offers to those candidates and without fail they turned out to be our best hires.
Variable Rewards: Want To Hook Users? Drive Them Crazy

Variable Rewards: Want To Hook Users? Drive Them Crazy

Here’s the gist: Rather than using conventional feedback loops, companies today are employing a new, stronger habit-forming mechanism to hook users—the Hooked Model. At the heart of the Hooked Model is a variable schedule of rewards: a powerful hack that focuses...

How to Design Behavior (The Behavior Change Matrix)

How to Design Behavior (The Behavior Change Matrix)

Here’s the gist: The rising interest in the science of designing behavior has also sprouted dozens of competing -- and at times conflicting -- methodologies. Though the authors often flaunt their way as the only way, there are distinct use cases for when each method...

How To Design For “Normals”

Note: This post originally appeared in Techcrunch. I’m proud to have co-authored this post with Katy Fike, PhD.  Dr. Fike is a gerontologist, systems engineer and Partner at Innovate50, a consulting firm helping companies create products and services for the 50+...

The Hooked Model: How to Manufacture Desire in 4 Steps

The Hooked Model: How to Manufacture Desire in 4 Steps

Type the name of almost any successful consumer web company into your search bar and add the word “addict” after it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Try “Facebook addict” or “Twitter addict” or even “Pinterest addict” and you’ll soon get a slew of results from hooked users and...

User Habits: Why Startups Must Be Behavior Experts

NOTE: This post originally appeared in TechcrunchHere’s the gist: In the age of infinite online distractions, successful web businesses must generate new user habits to stay relevant. The strength of a web company’s user habits will increasingly equate to its economic...

What Is, and Is Not, Your Product’s Job

Recently, my mom came for a visit.  She read my blog and discovered her son has a crazy habit of running barefoot.  After some convincing, she begrudgingly accepted my rationale, especially after I showed her that a nice Jewish professor at Harvard said it’s ok. But...

Forming New Habits: Train to be an Amateur, Not an Expert

Note: I’m proud to have co-authored this post with my good friend Charles Wang.  Charles is a co-founder of LUMOback, a former classmate, and an accomplished psychiatrist.  He brings a great perspective to the art of Behavior Engineering.Here’s the gist: Forming new...

Pinterest’s Obvious Secret

Note: This article was first published in Forbes Executive Summary: Pinterest is onto something big, but few know its obvious secret. The success of Pinterest is because of its focus on reducing users' cognitive load. Pinterest brilliantly aligns its user experience...

Where is the Web Going?

Here’s the gist: Disruptive web innovation comes from changes in interface. Interfaces, which make information easier to understand by mainstream users, create world-changing companies. The next stage of the web is the Curated Web, which like the stages before, will...

The Developer Divide: When Great Companies Can’t Hire

(Photo credit) Lately, I’ve noticed a startling paradox in Silicon Valley.  I see shitty companies hiring more engineers than they know what to do with, while other, great companies struggle to fill open roles.  Now my definition of “shitty” is completely subjective,...

Being a Quitter Makes You a Good Entrepreneur

This post is part 3 of a 3-part series.  See part 1 here and part 2 here. When we look at successful entrepreneurs, it may appear that they spend their lives relentlessly driving towards a singular goal.  We assume the path to success was a straight shot, lined with...

Why Your Goals Will Fail, and What You Can Do About It

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”- Warren Buffet If you’re like most people, you have a New Year’s resolution in place and you may have even stuck to it so far this year.  Good for you!  Realistically though, you’re...

Behavior by Design

A few weeks ago, I presented to the California Nutrition Education Program, a great group of educators working to help Californians lead healthier lives.  My presentation was about how to use the Fogg Behavior Model along with some of my own techniques to design...

What A-Players Do That You Don’t

This post is part 2 of a 3-part series. See part 1 here and part 3 here.What if I told you I know of a guaranteed, foolproof way to get in the best physical shape of your life without strenuous workouts?  How would you like to achieve success at work, without grueling...

Why You Should Run Your Business Barefoot

This post is part 1 of a 3-part series.  See part 2 here and part 3 here. When I run, I don’t wear much clothing.  Just my tighty whities and an old pair of Umbro shorts.  I don’t wear shoes. Why I don’t wear shoes while running is another topic, but by the looks I...

Are you a Startup Star, Wacko, or Wannabe?

This week, I had the pleasure of presenting to the latest class of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs at the Founder's Institute.  I discussed my thoughts on what entrepreneurs should do first when starting a new venture.  Here is the video of the talk along with my slides...