Deadlines – Psychology and Motivation

The Psychology of Deadlines

DeadThis last couple of weeks has been rather busy. I have a few deadlines and a lot of psychology research and teaching tasks coming up – some for things I really enjoy, others I have found really hard to settle down to. Many of these jobs have deadlines looming – what is the psychology underpinning this, and how can we make them work for us? Are they intrinsically helpful or not?

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How to achieve your goals by using implementation intentions.

goalImplementation intentions and behavioural follow-through

Like many people (I suspect!) I am sometimes not so good at following though on my goals. Here are a bunch of things which this week I fully intended to do, but failed epically to achieve. Note this is the abridged version – the full list runs to 3 volumes.

  1. Buy light bulbs for the kitchen
  2. Call an old friend I ran into on the train last week (Hello J!)
  3. Lose weight
  4. Write down when my annual leave is on our kitchen calendar
  5. Call a work colleague to discuss a new project
  6. Write up some work related expense forms

For many of these things I actively thought about doing them several times a day (as well as whilst cooking crazily calorie laden food in a near pitch-black kitchen).I’m not alone here – these sort of goals only seem to account for around 30% of the variance in our behaviour. Now, I am a reasonably well motivated guy, so why the apparent multiple lack of follow through? Part of the is probably due to the way I formulate my intentions.

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Oops. I gamified my life.

I am a grown man who is terribly pleased to get a sticker. What is worse is, this sticker is not even real. Yep. My partner bought me an activity monitor (if you’ve not heard of these think footstep pedometer on steroids).

PACMAN

 

Today I am mostly pleased because, since putting this device on, I have walked the same distance which emperor penguins migrate (112 km if you are interested). For this, my phone displayed a little picture of a penguin when I logged in. Super! Next, I want to climb stairs equivalent to a helicopters cruising altitude. I vow to avoid all elevators from this day on!

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