The Mere Urgency Effect - Deepstash

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7 Cognitive Biases That Make Us Suck at Time Management

The Mere Urgency Effect

This bias addresses why we do unimportant tasks we think are time-sensitive over tasks that are not time-sensitive, even if the non-time-sensitive tasks provide greater rewards.

How to overcome this bias:

  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix. It will reveal the urgent/not urgent and important/not important tasks.
  • Block off on your calendar the most productive 2-4 hours each day for your most important work.
  • Only answer emails at specific times. Don't allow email to bleed into other time.
  • Give your important tasks a deadline and find a way to commit to it.

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Cognitive Biases are a collection of faulty and illogical ways of thinking which are hardwired in the brain, most of which we aren’t aware of.

The idea of cognitive biases was invented ...

Hyperbolic Discounting

It's a tendency to heavily weigh the moment which is closer to the present, as compared to something in the near or distant future.

Example: If you are offered a choice of $150 right now or $180 after 30 days, you would be more inclined to choose the money you are offered right now. However, if we take the present moment out of the equation, and put this offer in the distant future, where you are offered $150 in 12 months or $180 in 13 months, your choice is likely to be the latter one.

Common Biases
  • Actor-Observer Bias: the way the explanation of other people’s behaviour tends to focus on the influence of their personality while being less focused on the situation while being just the opposite while explaining one’s own behaviour.
  • Zeigarnik Effect: when something unfinished and incomplete tends to linger in the mind and memory.
  • The IKEA Effect: when our own assembling of an object is placed at a higher value than the other objects.
  • Optimism Bias: makes us underestimate the cost and duration for every project we try to undertake or plan.
  • Availability Bias: makes us believe whatever is more easily available to our consciousness, and is more vivid (or entrenched) in our memory.
Cognitive biases
Cognitive biases

...are common thinking errors that harm our rational decision-making.

We don't always see things as they are. We don't simply glean information through the senses and act on it; inste...

Optimism Bias

Is our tendency to overestimate the odds of our own success compared to other people's. 

Overly optimistic predictions can be dangerous, leading us to waste time and resources pursuing unrealistic goals. In the real world of business, things don't always work out for the best, and it serves us well to know when conditions are not on our side.

How to control the optimism bias
  • Be skeptical of your own rosy expectations for your work. 
  • Assume projects will be more difficult and more expensive than you initially think they will. 
  • Don't trust your good ideas to manifest through positive thinking - be ready to fight for them.
  • Trust the numbers. Numbers are firm but fair, and getting intimate with your business's cash flow can help you make more rational decisions.
Confirmation bias

People don't like to rethink their beliefs once they are formed. 

We would rather ignore information that would challenge our ideas than engage with threatening new information. This is ...

Availability heuristic

Our brain likes to take shortcuts to solve a problem when normal methods are too slow to find a solution. 

The problem with this approach is that frightening events are easier to recall than every-day events. We should be aware that alarmist news broadcasts don't help in an accurate sense of events.

Anchoring

We have a tendency to stubbornly hold on to a number once we hear it and gauge all other numbers based on the initial number, even if the information is not that relevant.

For example, if customers are limited to 'four per customer' they are more likely to buy four, even if they did not initially intend to do so.