Don't forget to remember

Once a week, I have someone over to clean my apartment.

They turn my moderately messy (and cluttered) kitchen into a clean, orderly sanctuary.

But, for the next day or two after they come, I always forget to take my morning supplements: a set of three or four pills that I usually ingest daily.

Why?

Because they’ve been put away in a cabinet. They’re out of sight and out of mind.

When I walk into the kitchen the day after it’s been tidied, I no longer see the bottles sitting there on the cluttered countertop. I no longer have a *trigger* for that behavior.

“What is a trigger?” you ask.

Well – in order to explain that I need to tell you about my favorite model of behavior: The Fogg Behavior Model. I think it’s the simplest, most practical framework for thinking about behavior (and how to change it) out there.

According to the Fogg Behavior Model, a behavior occurs when someone is reminded (triggered) to do a behavior when they have both the necessary ability and motivation.

Behavior = Trigger + Ability + Motivation

It’s *very* easy to take my supplements… so I have plenty of ability to take them. And I’m motivated to take them, since they make me feel better and I (perhaps falsely) believe they make me healthier.

In a case like this, the only issue is remembering to do the behavior (take the pills).

The visual sight of the pill bottles on my kitchen counter is usually my trigger for this behavior.

But triggers can take on a diversity of forms:

  • Text messages
  • Push notifications
  • Emails
  • Verbal reminders
  • Sensations (pain à take painkiller)
  • Etc.

There are many behavior-change problems that can be solved quite effectively by JUST adding a trigger (or making an already existing trigger more powerful).

One of my favorite examples of a trigger solution is the Glow Cap.

It’s a ‘smart’ pill bottle that tracks whether or not a patient has taken his or her pill for the day. If they haven’t, it starts to beep and glow. If the beeping and glowing doesn’t catch your attention, it will actually give them a phone call telling them to take their medicine.

Three triggers in one product!

  • A beep
  • A light
  • A phone call

For medication compliance, triggering is more than half the battle... but there are tons of behavior-change problems that you'll encounter that can be solved by just nagging your user/target a bit.

Jason Hreha