If you’re having a hard time finishing a task, the problem is most likely simply that you don’t know exactly when the task will be finished. It seems silly, but it has a psychological explanation.
Nobody likes deadlines when executing a task or job, especially if behind them there is a demanding boss who does not take his eyes off us ready to act if we do not arrive on time for the established date.
But, what if I told you that although they are stressful, deadlines turn out to be an excellent motivator that helps us complete tasks faster and in a much more efficient way.
This not only affects the workplace, it can be applied to almost any facet of our lives. For example, setting yourself the goal of being fit is not the same as setting yourself the goal of arriving prepared to run and finishing a specific race.
The second is much more motivating as it has a specific completion date, the first is a vague idea.
This is demonstrated by a study published by Tel Aviv University echoed by Bigthink, in which 64 university students were asked to perform a series of complex tasks divided into blocks with a monetary reward for those who passed the process with a valuation above an established scale.
The participants were divided into two groups and completed 10 blocks of 240 trials, making a total of 2,400 trials, but while one group was told that the experiment was divided into blocks and given information on how many blocks of the total they had completed throughout the process, the other group did not.
None of the groups received any evaluation while performing the work, although they were asked about their level of tiredness, boredom and energy at the end of some of the blocks to calculate an indicator of fatigue.
The group that received information on how far they had progressed in the experiment achieved a higher level of performance, speed and accuracy; something that increased considerably towards the end of it, suggesting that knowing when a task will finish makes it easier to complete it.
The group that received feedback also needed fewer breaks than the group that received no feedback, although feedback did not indicate that they felt less fatigued.
The experiment was repeated with a greater number of blocks, increasing the number of tests to 2,880. And as in the first experiment, with the same results. The group that did not know when the work would be finished took a greater number of breaks, took longer and reported feeling much more fatigued.
Why do we do better work when we know a task is going to finish? If we are aware that a tedious task is almost finished, it brings us closer to other more pleasant activities, which motivates us to finish what we are doing sooner and better.
Also, if we have no idea how much more time we are going to dedicate to a task, it is more difficult for us to put all our energy into it; while if we know that the end is near, we make every effort to be aware that we will have enough energy to finish it.
The study makes it clear that knowing how a task is progressing can have a positive impact on both the amount of effort you put into it and the quality and quantity of itso if you really want to get rid of that boring job, it is best to set a date to finish it.
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