Improving Productivity by Bridging Thought to Action

Here’s how to bridge the missing link between thought and intention to productive action

Influencing thought and desire into action is more accessible and successful when the action is imminent. That is, when there is minimal lag between influence and action.

When something influences your thought to change your behavior or perform an action, it’s most successful when the intended action is carried out as soon as possible. The more time that passes after the influence occurs, the less likely it is you’ll perform the action.

If more time passes, what’s required is another intervention, another event to create influence on your behavior and action. These additional influences act to bridge the time between the initial intervention and the actual behavior. 

These interventions address the challenges to performing the action. Even with an intervention that occurs to bridge time, optimal results are achieved when the intervention is able to induce the targeted behavior or when there are, again, short uneventful-behavior lags.

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Linking Intention to a Productive Environment

Another effective intervention is to link intention to the performance environment. Specifically when planning. This applies to things like exercising (Milne, Orbell, Sheehan 2002) and dieting (Achtziger, Gollwitzer, Sheehan 2008).

Using Commitment Devices to Improve Productivity

Commitment devices are effective. Examples of commitment devices include leaving credit cards at home and bringing a limited amount of cash when you go shopping. When you limit the very resource, or access to that resource, that may enable specific behaviors, you can perform specific behaviors successfully. 

Immutable commitment devices, or devices that may be changed, rather than mutable devices are more effective because they incur unavoidable costs as opposed to minor inconveniences. If you don’t store alcohol or foods that you are trying to avoid at home, then you can just go to the store to purchase or have it delivered.

Successfully Bridging Thought to Action

Performing actions successfully requires planning, organization, and forethought. It’s part of creating a productivity system. This is how you set yourself up for productivity and for success.

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