“I like an escalator because an escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. There would never be an escalator temporarily out of order sign, only an escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” – Mitch Hedberg
As comedian Mitch Hedberg humorously points out, convenience is a big deal. We have convenience stores that carry everything from bags of ice to ice scrapers. But it doesn’t stop with stores or stairs, we even want our milk to be more convenient.
One study found that people drank 42% more milk when the milk machine was 12 feet away than when it was 25 feet away. Another study used a mess hall to test how much water soldiers drank depending on the location of the water pitchers. The closer the pitcher, the more hydrated the soldiers. Soldiers drank almost twice as much water with pitchers on each dining table than when the water was off on a side table.
And these studies aren’t just limited to beverages. They also feature important things, like dessert. A cafeteria tested the importance of convenience with a cooler full of ice cream. On some days, the researchers kept the lid open and on other days, they closed it. The location of the cooler remained the same. All that changed was how much effort was needed to get to the sweet treat.
Sounds like not much effort to lift a lid, but the results were surprising. If the lid was closed, only 14% of the diners decided to dig in. When the lid was open, 30% of the people helped themselves.
If we can learn anything from milk, water & ice cream, it is that we do not like obstacles. When we think of road blocks, we don’t typically think of lids and limited water options, but even the smallest hindrance can detour our plans.
If we want to set ourselves up for success, we need to limit the obstacles. If our resolution is to visit the gym more often, we should pick the gym nearest to our house. If our goal is to write more, we will want to keep a notebook and pen close by. If we want to eat more ice cream, we need to keep the cooler lid up.