How Being Busy Can Increase Motivation and Reduce Task Completion Time

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2016 Mar;110(3):371-84. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000045.

Abstract

This research tests the hypothesis that being busy increases motivation and reduces the time it takes to complete tasks for which people miss a deadline. This effect occurs because busy people tend to perceive that they are using their time effectively, which mitigates the sense of failure people have when they miss a task deadline. Studies 1 and 2 show that when people are busy, they are more motivated to complete a task after missing a deadline than those who are not busy, and that the perception that one is using time effectively mediates this effect. Studies 3 and 4 show that this process makes busy people more likely to complete real tasks than people who are not busy. Study 5 uses data from over half a million tasks submitted by thousands of users of a task management software application to show that busy people take less time to complete a task after they miss a deadline for completing it. The findings delineate the conditions under which being busy can mitigate the negative effects of missing a deadline and reduce the time it takes to complete tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors