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We habituate

We form habits.

Consistently taking the same route when driving to work, for example, means never having to make a bad guess about whether or not traffic will be lighter on another street. Always putting the cookies on the second shelf means never having to remember where they are when the craving hits.

Online, habituation persists. I once watched an experienced web developer open up the Google.com homepage, carefully move his mouse pointer to the one and only input field on the page, and click inside of it, presumably to focus the field so he could begin typing. He did this even though Google’s search box is auto-focused as soon as the page loads. And even if it wasn’t auto-focused, he could have used the Tab key to tab his way to the input field. Didn’t he know all this?

It doesn’t matter if he knew or not. The important thing to note is that he relied on his habits. Like most of us, he’s had to move his mouse pointer to an input box and click in it to begin typing on many other web pages. Because he got used to doing this, he did it on Google’s homepage as well.

By doing things the wrong way, and turning those incorrect behaviors into habits, we may never fully reap the benefits of a system, and we may waste valuable time, but we’ll certainly still accomplish what we need to accomplish. And in the end, that’s just fine with us.

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