#15: Time machine saves lives, Zero-sum bias, Time-saving bias

Lessons learned this week

It was 5:58 pm Wednesday evening. I finished updating my Sketch file with the latest revision of a big and complicated project (yes, I am still on Sketch, but moving to Figma soon, don’t judge me 😎). The next day, I had a very important presentation to a group of a few dozen people. One more thing - link the artboards for the Invision demo. I saved the file, restarted Sketch (I do this regularly to free up the memory, so Sketch is not lagging that much), and clicked the working file…

In response, I received an error message that Sketch can’t open the file because it got corrupted. This was the first time I got such a message from Sketch, and initially, I didn’t take it seriously. After an hour of troubleshooting and going down the rabbit hole of a developer tool for Sketch nothing was successful. This file had 2 weeks of work, and the presentation was in less than 24 hours. I can’t recall being more stressed about a corrupted file before. This was not looking good.

One of my colleagues recommended to try checking my Time Machine backups. Time Machine? Why didn’t I think of this earlier?? I cannot overstate my enthusiasm when I launched the backup browser and could open a file with about an hour of lost work. 1 hour vs 2 weeks. This was nerve-wracking. Conclusion - Time Machine can save lives 😂 and I’ve become a super loyal user.

Thinking of adding a new section to the newsletter - random key takeaways from my work life. Would it be valuable to you? DM me or leave a comment to this issue.

Zero-sum bias

People tend to think that one person’s gain would be another’s loss.

I’ve heard the “zero-sum” term being used in many different areas but thought it was related to some math axiom or something 🙃 and never looked into this further. Apparently, there is a cognitive bias towards zero-sum thinking; when people that a situation is zero-sum, even when it is not. This can lead to more competitive (or less cooperative) behaviour and poor decisions. It’s logical to expect that when one thinks mutual gain is not possible and it’s either a win or a loss, the resulting actions may follow.

Some think that evolution “created” this bias for our ancestors at the times when the resources were much more scarce (food, mates, status, etc.), which makes total sense to me. There was an interesting cross-cultural study where participants from countries with lower GDP showed stronger zero-sum beliefs, making the “resources scarcity” hypothesis look more valid.

One of the examples of this biased thinking is when students in a cohort think that they are being graded on a curve when in reality each student is being graded individually based on an existing standard. Zero-sum bias can lead to thinking that your peer’s gain could be your own loss.

Time-saving bias

People tend to misestimate the time gain when increasing driving speed.

Been there, done that. You? 😉 It turns out a lot of people underestimate the time saved when they drive at a slow speed comparing to the higher speed. For instance, if you drive 30 km/h and increase the speed by 10 km/h, you will save significantly more time than if you were driving at 90 km/h and increased your speed by the same 10km/h. Even though it’s totally logical, as the speed increase is relative to the initial speed, studies show that some people use a somewhat linear estimation. Same bias on the other side of the speed spectrum - the time saving is overestimated when driving at higher speeds.

This leads to speeding behaviour on one side and running late on another 😎 Be safe and don’t speed 🤙


Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. They don’t represent any of my current or previous employers’ views.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum_thinking

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-saving_bias

Photo Credit: Christian Erfurt on Unsplash