Uri from Atoms vs Bits identifies a useful trick to quell indecisiveness. They call it a ‘release valve principle’ but I like what he calls it in the body text: a pre-committed default.

Basically, it’s knowing what you’re going to do if you can’t decide on something. This can be particularly useful if you’re conflicted between short-term pain for long-term gain.

One thing that is far too easy to do is get into mental loops of indecision, where you're weighing up options against options, never quite knowing what to do, but also not-knowing how to get out the loop.


There’s a partial solution to this which I call “release valve principles”: basically, a pre-committed default decision rule you’ll use if you haven’t decided something within a given time frame.

I watched a friend do this when we were hanging out in a big city, vaguely looking for a bookshop we could visit but helplessly scrolling through googlemaps to try to find a good one; after five minutes he said “right” and just started walking in a random direction. He said he has a principle where if he hasn’t decided after five minutes where to go he just goes somewhere, instead of spending more time deliberating.


The release valve principle is an attempt to prod yourself into doing what your long-term self prefers, without forcing you into always doing X or never doing Y – it just kicks in when you’re on the fence.

Source: Release Valve Principles | Atoms vs Bits

Image: Unsplash