A Blog post
The Power of Pre-Commitment
- Apr 30, 2018
- Jared Wells
- In Uncategorized
- 0 Comments
As I always say, “yesterday me” is smarter than “today me”. That is, what I knew, yesterday, that I should do today will almost always be a better plan that what I will decide, today, that I should be doing instead. Yesterday, I knew that I needed finalize the "Getting a Head Start on Finals" Workshop plans, but once I got to today, other, less valuable tasks showed up to try to distract me from accomplishing a much more important task. So if we can already determine what the most important things to accomplish are, why do we have trouble getting them done? Two reasons: first, we didn’t stop and think, yesterday, about what should be done today. We CAN plan, but we don’t; we act purely in the moment and react to the crises that come up as a result of a lack of a plan. This is like ignoring the advice of a personal trainer or a coach. They know better than you, so listen to them! Secondly, and the purpose of this email, is they arrive at the scheduled time to accomplish the pre-determined task, and they talk themselves out of it. And the reasons given for changing course, as I’m sure you know from your own experience, are usually not sound. A conversation between the two might sound something like this: Yesterday Student: We need to get started on the paper right when we get home from school. That way, if we need help on it like we’ve needed in the past, we’ll have time to go over it with our tutor that evening Today Student: Yeah, but we know what we need to do. We’re not going to need help. We can work on it this evening. Yesterday Student: Yes, but the essay took longer than we thought last time. Remember, we were up until 1pm last time! Today Student: That isn’t going to happen this time. Let’s play video games instead. Yesterday Student: That’s why we were up until 1pm last time! If your son or daughter overheard this conversation between two friends of theirs, they would almost certainly advise “Today Student” to listen to “Yesterday Student”. And yet, this conversation plays out (more or less consciously) in the minds of students every day. Even in the minds of successful students who do heed the advice of “Yesterday Student” it can be a struggle. One way that students can help make sure that “Yesterday Student” is listened to is by pre-committing. What this means is that the student finds ways to disallow “Today Student” from changing plans in the moment. For me, some examples of pre-commitment are
- Having a gym partner I meet at the gym at the same time every day
- Using Focusmate to schedule focused work sessions and using the Forest app to prevent myself from getting distracted by my phone during those work sessions
- Packing myself a healthy lunch in the morning so I don’t choose in the afternoon to eat something unhealthy
- Change my social media passwords to long, difficult to type passwords to make logging in to social media a more challenging, conscious process.
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