Finance and productivity guru Ramit Sethi, one of the cofounders of PBWiki, urges his readers to focus on a few big wins over large numbers of small wins.
You can probably see how this builds off the previous strategy of minimizing decisions. As Ramit explains, humans are cognitive misers — we only have so much mental bandwidth with which to make decisions.
However, Ramit goes beyond just saying to make fewer decisions, and makes the point that the decisions you do choose to focus on should provide ongoing benefits in return for a one-time action, as opposed to one-time benefits.
In finance, the prime examples of this are saving money on your rent, car payments, insurance, and phone bill — and not getting bogged down in trying to save money every single day by not grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, or not ordering an appetizer when you go out to eat.
In fact, Ramit makes the point that when you nail the big wins, you can let yourself enjoy many of life’s small pleasures, guilt-free. There’s no need to be perfect.
A prime health-related example would be that many people make an effort to walk more, often scheduling a time to take a walk every day. Someone applying this strategy would instead move to a more walkable neighborhood, knowing that they’ll naturally walk more once they do.
Another example: instead of trying to pick the lowest-calorie option for every meal, just eat less often. If you eliminate between-meal snacking, and eat only two meals a day, a few days a week, you’ll be cutting out a lot more calories than if you stress about eating white meat vs dark meat.