Set Your Defaults

by Ray Reuter on January 15, 2015

Default SettingsDefaults … preselected options adopted by a computer program or other mechanism when no alternative is specified by the user or programmer.

What are your default settings? Not only for your technology, but also for all other aspects of your life? Due to “status quo bias,” which is simply defined as a preference for the current state of affairs, many choices are made by doing nothing or maintaining one’s current or previous decision. Decision-making experiments show that individuals disproportionately stick with the status quo or the “default.” For example, how many papers have you written in Times New Roman because that is the default font? Think of the millions of dollars of free advertising Apple gets by the default email signature, “Sent from my iPhone.”

Being proactive in setting our defaults can be a leverage point for positively impacting our outcomes. Intentional defaults nudge us to make better decisions ahead of time so you don’t have to remember to do so in the moment. Some possible default settings to consider …

  • Your alarm.
  • Reading material.
  • The clothes you have set out or easy access to.
  • The TV channel or radio station.
  • Email, social media, and other technology notifications.
  • What is on your desk?
  • The foods / snacks that are easily accessible and ready-to-eat.

A related concept that I just encountered is the habit of Clearing-to-Neutral. The main idea is that you set yourself up for success in advance – i.e., set your defaults. The last action with any activity is a little routine where you reset everything to a neutral / “default” position so that the next time you start there is no friction. Again, some possibilities to consider …

  • When you finish cooking / eating, wash your dishes right away.
  • When you finish a task, project, or paperwork, clean your desk.
  • When done with technology for the day, clear-to-neutral by closing all the windows / programs so you only see your desktop background.
  • When you finish your morning rituals (e.g., prayer, reading, exercise, meditation), prepare everything for the next morning.

The concept of setting defaults or “clearing-to-neutral” can be applied to any rituals or habits you have. By mere definition of the word “habit”, you do something repeatedly. By setting the default position for your current habits, the next time you start your ritual or do your habit, you do it without any friction or distraction.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Morena December 23, 2015 at 5:41 am

I just hide kwalletmanager and the nmepouk indexing systray icon.IMHO hiding automatically is not the right way to make the user learn “hey, you can hide your icons”. Systray icon hiding is *very* personal. The only icons that could be hidden by default I can imagine are kwalletmanager and kgpg.. all the rest could be a problem for the casual user. I think users discover features by actually clicking on them “hey, what does this little nice icon do…?” so for every icon you hide, there’s the risk the user won’t discover it so easily.Hide klipper and the user will never learn to use its powerful history.Hide knetworkmanager and the user will never discover that yes, he/she can configure his/her network so easily.Etc… =)Perhaps hiding kwalletmanager is a sane default, but IMO the right way to go for the future for having users discovering plasma’s features would be to make a plasmoid that presents the features of other plasmoids. It could offer a default tour and see if the plasmoid which is currently referring to is currently in a visible containment so to highlight it. But that’s a suggestion for 4.3, and I’m going a bit off topic. ;)My two cents.


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