Curating Friction

One of the curious ideas I found in Atomic Habits is that often our environments have a greater impact on us than motivation or character.

For example, if you live in a country where there’s lots of cheap fast food, you’re more likely to be overweight than in a country where fast food is expensive and most people have more restricted diets.

There are exceptions, but you will be closes to your countries average (whatever that is).

But this isn’t just on the macro countrywide level, it equally applies to our micro environments such as the office and home. If your shelves are stocked with sweets and chocolate, then you probably won’t eat as healthy as when they are full with fruits and vegetables.

This is where curating friction comes in.

Friction is how easy or difficult an action is. If it’s easy to complete, it’s a low-friction activity. If it’s difficult to complete, then it’s a high-friction activity.

When we curate friction, we are adding or removing friction in areas of our lives to make certain actions easier or more difficult. Here’s some practical examples.
- Placing a paper notebook journal open to today’s date on your bedside table is reducing the friction to journal. - Packing your games console away after you play increases the friction of playing a “quick” game.
- Placing your scale at the end of the bed is a great way to reduce the friction of regularly weighing yourself.
- Uninstalling all the social media apps on your phone is increasing the friction to get stuck scrolling the endless feed.

There are many more examples for different habits and goals and in each case it’s not impossible to do the “wrong” thing. But it’s much more difficult and becomes easier to choose the right thing.

The idea of curating friction as it helps me take more ownership of my environments. Just as an art gallery makes decisions about every item on display include where it is positioned in relationship to the other pieces, so should I take ownership of the friction I create and leave in my life.

Iā€™d love to know what ways you currently curate friction in your life.