There’s one disagreement my partner and I have consistently, and it starts with the question, “What do you want for dinner?” It evolves into a very non-serious argument about why I can’t make decisions, and it usually ends with me realizing that, hey, he didn’t make a decision either. He just passed it off to me! (I know, how rude.)
Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, co-authors of the book “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions,” refer to this as “passing the computational buck.” Instead of asking me the open-ended question of what I want to eat, my partner should ask me something more along the lines of, “Do you want to eat grilled cheese or lettuce wraps?” (The answer is always—always—grilled cheese.)
This applies to other situations, too, such as when you’re trying to schedule meetings with a co-worker. Rather than asking them to provide all the times he’s free, you should just present him with a few specific options.
In this episode, “6 Algorithms That Can Improve Your Life,” of the Note to Self podcast, the host talks about this algorithm and five others that can help make your life so, so, much better.
Photo of friends courtesy of Katarina Premfors/Getty Images.
Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic. Say hi on Twitter .More from this Author