Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

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Octalysis Prime and Lifestyle Inertia Design

This post is written by Mike Finney from He is also an active member of Octalysis Prime. 

Applying Octalysis

Octalysis. It’s fantastic! It’s actionable! As Major-General Stanley might say, Octalysis is the very model of a modern major framework.

Although impressive and quite understandable, how can we take this understanding of human motivation and increase our personal productivity? Octalysis Prime‘s Lifestyle Inertia Design (LID) to the rescue!

If you’re an Octalysis Prime member like these wonderful people, you can access the LID videos. The videos are a treasure chest that’s hidden inside of the Productivity area. While being entertained, you can get the knowledge straight from Yu-kai Chou’s lips to your ears!

If you’re not yet an Octalysis Prime member, some of that knowledge is here in this article. However, what’s shared here is a mere shadow of what is to come when you join.

Concepts Concepts Concepts

Similar to “location, location, location” being important in real-estate, “concepts, concepts concepts” are the essential bricks on any path towards wisdom. So, let’s go over some LID concepts:

  • Control Panel
  • Hitchhike
  • Quickstop
  • Ramp Up
  • Rest Intentionally
  • The Snitch
  • The Spark

Control Panel

Here’s your life. Now what? Which thing to do first? Life is naturally overwhelming, so you need a Control Panel.

In LID, the Control Panel contains all the answers. Although Control Panels can vary based on individual needs, the Control Panel is much more than just a simple To-Do list. The Control Panel answers the what, when, and the how. It also challenges you to keep your life novel and fresh.

Specifically, the Control Panel answers:

  • How will I spend my time?
  • When should I do task X in my day or at the very least how does task X compare to task Y in priority?
  • How did I actually spend my time in the day?
  • What new thing did I do? Novelty helps yield innovation, creativity, and success.

Unless you go for the snitch (described further down in this article), the Control Panel is the first thing you go for in the day. “Why?”, you ask? It’s to keep you from going into zombie reactive mode.

This cannot be stressed enough. When you first wake up, access the Control Panel or go do the snitch. If you access the Control Panel first thing, it’s a powerful key to daily productivity. In contrast, checking your email first thing is not.


Everyone knows exercising is good for you. However, some don’t do it, because exercising can be boring. So sometimes people do things like watch TV while they jog. That is an example of a hitchhike. The concept of a hitchhike is that you do something that you enjoy doing and the productive thing hitchhikes along for the ride. To successfully apply this concept, there are a couple key things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the thing you enjoy doing is involved and uses brain power.
  • The productive thing should not require brainpower. Exercising or doing grunt work are some examples.

Quickstop – It Quickly Redirects You

Did you ever see someone put off something important later than they should? It’s so common. The brain is wired for dealing with what is in front of us and urgent. When tired or bored, the mind lapses into a stupor and the person mindlessly seeks pleasure at the expense of their future-self. The Quickstop keeps you on track with your long term goals. It gets you on to that which is important even if not urgent.

So, how to use it? The Quickstop follows the pattern of “Before I do a fun thing, I want to do this useful productive thing. The productive thing must be easy and lightweight to do. Examples include:

  • Answer an easy email
  • Change credit card billing to another credit card

Although there’s more to it, that’s the general idea.

Ramp Up

Some tasks are just hard to get into. A Ramp Up helps take the pain out of getting into one task by doing something else first. Yu-kai Chou gives the example of taking a nap before reading a book. Ramp Ups can lead to additional Ramp Ups. For example, After reading a book, Yu-kai finds its easier to jump into work. Some things sound like good Ramp Ups, but don’t work out so well because they are too attractive to stop or take too much energy.

Rest Intentionally

Rest on purpose. Do something meaningful that provides value. Contrasted with mindlessly fooling around and not getting the most out of your free time, fully enjoy your rest time in an optimal way. Yu-kai says to rest with “strategy” and “planning.”

The Snitch

Inspired by Harry Potter and Quidditch, the LID Snitch is the activity that’s the most important for your life. It’s the thing that takes you to the next stage of your career or life. Big or small, whatever the thing is that you should do, go do it! As mentioned above, first thing every morning you have two choices in the LID. Your choices are to go for the Snitch or consult the Control Panel. Since the Snitch is the most important thing, it’s acceptable to just go for it without looking at the Control Panel.

The Spark

A new idea or inspiration brings with it excitement! That excitement is the spark that gets you started on something. Since the feeling of newness doesn’t stay for long, the excitement itself is not sustaining. One must internalize the clarity or inspiration that comes from the spark and turn it into a daily passion. That’s why the other components are so important. They help you stay on track and accomplish your goals that feed the passion / that fire which started with just a spark.

Together – The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum of Its Parts

With LID, the whole is greater than the sum of the individual techniques. Once you have these techniques down, you truly can flow like water, as Bruce Lee said. A transformation of your life takes place as the practices support the different parts of your life and each other.

Here’s a conceptual diagram that lays out the concepts together and enables you to stay on task aka on track:


Where I work at CARFAX and also at home, my life satisfaction is way up and I’m happily getting more done as a result of using Octalysis Prime‘s Lifestyle Inertia Design. Since it’s such a valuable thing, it’s my hope that by laying out these concepts you will get a glimpse how Lifestyle Inertia Design works and how to apply it to your life. Prime On!

Special thanks to Mike Finney for this great post. More of Mike’s writing on topics ranging from meditation to software development can be found at

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