Features & Updates

Email Meter Presents Fwd: Thinking Podcast Episode 1 With Fabio Pereira

Who is Fabio?

Fabio Pereira is a Brazilian Technologist, Speaker and Writer. He's worked alongside people creating technology for 22 years.

After seeing what goes on behind the scenes and how people influence each other through technology, he decided to write a book: Digital Nudge.

He set out to tell everyone the secrets behind how we're persuaded and influenced to click, read and buy.

Behavioral economics studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on the decisions of individuals and institutions and how those decisions vary from those implied by classical economic theory.

I caught up with him for our first episode of Fwd: Thinking to learn more about his book, distractions, productivity and how Email Meter can help. You can watch our full conversation above, or scroll down for the main highlights!

What is a digital nudge? 

A digital nudge is defined as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behavior in a predictable way, without forbidding any options, or significantly changing economic incentives”.

An example of a digital nudge is Netflix’s autoplay feature. At the end of an episode, it'll automatically play the next unless you stop it within a few seconds. Watching another episode is the easier choice, without actually forbidding you if you want to stop. Autoplay is one of the most efficient digital nudges. Behavioral Science shows that if you want someone to do something, make them do that something by doing nothing.

Another common digital nudge takes advantage of Loss Aversion (the fear of missing out on something). When booking things like hotel rooms, we're often warned there’s only a limited number of rooms left (which may or may not always be true)—a powerful encouragement to book ASAP.

How can we become more aware of digital nudges?

Fabio gives 5 steps for raising your digital consciousness:

  • Accept that you're digitally irrational. 
  • Observe your digital behavior. 
  • Try making small changes. 
  • Talk to other people and learn together. 
  • Go back to step two, and do it all over again.

The first step doesn’t repeat for a reason—once we accept that we're irrational, it’s a simple but deep realization. 

Once we accept we're irrational, it lets us see things for the way they are, including how we're influenced.

The second step is about self observation. It's about watching yourself, your habits. For example, think of your favorite app. How long do you think you spend a day on it? Now open your screentime (if your phone has it) and see the actual time. It’s often way longer than we expect. So that shows that reality and our perception of our reality are not the same. That's why observing our behavior when we are living in the digital world is very, very important. By observing, we can change. We cannot change something that we are not aware of.

Fabio doesn’t believe in big changes. A background of agile methodologies and continuous improvement is why he suggests small, consistent changes. If you improve 1% at a time, you can exponentially grow your improvements. So it's about making those tiny little improvements, and to keep doing them. Every week, make one positive change in your life, such as observing something you do that you want to change. 

Fabio is a true believer in communities. In Brazil he is part of a community of behavioural scientists which grew from 10 to over 1000. They get together and share knowledge, and learn from each other. This 's why Fabio encourages us to go back to step 2 and start again—to observe, change, make a small change, learn from each other, and then that's a continuous loop that never ends.

There is a lot of Cognitive Biases mentioned in Digital Nudge. How does Fabio recommend we learn about these Cognitive Biases?

There’s over 180 biases mapped so far, meaning it’s very difficult to memorize them.

Instead, when Fabio has a feeling that a bias could be working on him and influencing him, he looks for it. Once spotted, it’s easy to look up biases on a list (on wikipedia for example, or this non-exhaustive list).

For example, if you’re booking a hotel room and they’re warning you about it being the last room left, stop and think. Consider if you could be being influenced by your tendency to avoid missing out things.

How can Email Meter help you raise your digital consciousness and understand your habits better?

Information is like food. How are you consuming your information? Who's giving you your diet? 

Emails arrive in our inbox as a timeline. But don't consume your email in the sequence you receive it, because you give the power of your consumption to the senders.

Using labels, we can sort our inbox to show us emails from most urgent and important to least.

Email Meter is a way to analyze email consumption and email production. We are both information consumers and producers alike.

For example, if your Top Interactions show you’ve been contacting someone a lot recently, you can filter their emails to show first.

We can only digest a certain number of emails a day. If you receive 100 emails a day, but you read them in order and only have time to read 50, you might miss a very important email which arrived at number 67.

Email Meter also gives you an ‘email scale’. For example if you go to a nutritionist, you'd step on a scale to measure your starting weight, and then go from there (losing or gaining weight). Email Meter allows the same with your inbox. You can look month by month to see trends.

What’s an ‘email tweet’ and how does it help us?

Similar to a TLDR (too long didn’t read), an email tweet is 1 or 2 short sentence summary at the top of a long email.

This way you know quickly whether this email is something which you should read— and saving you having to scan a long email.

In a world of information overload, a short email which lays out exactly what it expects of you is very valuable.

A lot of time is spend producting information which nobody ever reads. People spend time writing things like processes and because they’re not summarized and easy to digest, they go to waste.

How do you bring down your screentime, or make the screentime you spend more productive?

It’s not so much about the time you spend, rather how you spend that time.

Watch your screentime and categorize it. Do less of the things you don’t want to do, and more of the things you do. With social media, instead of scrolling for the sake of scrolling, save the interesting things you want to read. And then actually set aside time to read them! Same goes for YouTube—if you spot a 15 minute long video you’re interested in, save it and have it ready to watch when you have free time, instead of scrolling.

Use screens intentionally. Be more active and have the power to do what you said you should be doing, instead of being passive and being at the mercy of a timeline/feed.

Thanks for joining us for our first episode of Fwd: Thinking. We'll be back soon with more insights into the world of email and productivity!

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