Bad predictions of our behaviours – a reason for procrastination
Why did you choose where to go to college? Why did you fall in love with that person? Why do you buy that specific brand of shoes? Sometimes we know. Sometimes, we don’t. Asked why we have felt or acted as we have, we produce plausible answers. But, when causes are subtle, our self-explanations are often wrong. Sometimes we have irrational behaviour. We think that our behaviour is rational, but our decision making is based on irrational impulses. We may dismiss factors that matter and inflate others that don’t. And sometimes, deny being influenced by the media, which we readily acknowledge, affects others.
The question is: How much insight do we really have into what makes us happy or unhappy?
Daniel Gilbert (2011) said that we are bad predictors of what will make us happy. We seem to know less about ourselves, about the worlds in our heads, than the world around our heads.
Also, we misinterpret our behaviour. Researchers discovered that dating couples tend to predict the longevity of their relationships through rose-colored glasses, compared with their friends and family who know better.
So, if you want to predict your routine daily behaviour – how much time you will spend laughing, on the phone, or watching TV – your close friends’ estimates will be more accurate.
As a matter of fact, we tend to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task.
One of the most common errors in behaviour prediction is underestimating how long it will take to complete a task ( called planning fallacy). How often happened to you to predict that you’ll finish a report in 2 hours and actually to take 4 hours? In one study where students were asked to predict when they will finish a project, on average the students finished 3 weeks later than their estimate.
So, if you want to find out if your relationship will last or when will you finish your term paper, ask your friends or your mom. Or you could do what Microsoft does: Managers automatically add 30% onto a software developer’s estimate of completion.
How can you improve your self-predictions?
The best way is to be more realistic about how long tasks took in the past. Keep the track of it! Apparently people underestimate how long something will take because they misremember previous tasks as taking less time than they in fact did.
Just to sum up:
1. KEEP A JOURNAL
2. BE REALISTIC about the tasks duration
3. ADD 30% TO YOUR ESTIMATION