Planning Fallacy and Optimism Bias: It Happens to All of Us

person writing bucket list on book

The planning fallacy refers to a prediction phenomenon, all too familiar to many, wherein people underestimate the time it will take to complete a future task, despite knowledge that previous tasks have generally taken longer than planned. ~ Science Direct

The ​optimism bias is essentially a mistaken belief that our chances of experiencing negative events are lower and our chances of experiencing positive events are higher than those of our peers.  ~ Very Well Mind

How many times have you woken up on a day off with superpower motivation to tackle a long list of to-do items?  I HAVE!  Some days I think that I can clean our whole home, do laundry, meal prep for the week, and go for a long run, all before we meet friends for dinner.  I’m usually good all morning.  Forget to eat lunch.  Get hangry.  Eat.  Then find myself exhausted and ready for a nap.  But I can’t nap because the bed hasn’t been made yet.  I become cranky. 

This happens because of the planning fallacy.  In my mind, I thought each task would take about 30 minutes.  Despite the fact that this nerd gal has done her own personal time studies to see how long each of the various tasks actually takes to complete.  When you add in optimism bias where I thought nothing could go wrong, it was the perfect storm for a cranky Mrs. BMM. 

After this happened a couple times in a short period of time, I started allocating time next to each to-do list item.  This helped me see if I overcommitted or over-scheduled myself during the week.  It gave me the chance to decide if the to-do list item should be moved to another day or eliminated completely. 

Over time, I stopped putting the time next to each to-do list item.  I now have a better understanding of what I can and cannot get accomplished during the day. 

Has this ever happened to you?  What did you do to prevent it from happening again? 


Just Wear the Fancy Dress

Recently I wrote about chipping my Nanny’s (aka my grandmother’s) fine china platter after deciding that I’d put it in the dishwasher, use it, risking damage rather than saving it in the cabinet for a special day.  Today I’m writing about one of two fancy dresses that I typically save for weddings, funerals, and those … Continue reading Just Wear the Fancy Dress

5 Reasons Why Minimalism Is NOT a CULT

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, which is probably how everyone starts their sentence when they realized they may have accidentally joined a cult, but I found the Common Cult Podcast and started to binge listen a couple weeks ago.  Eryn and Heather previously hosted The Practical Minimalists Podcast which I also binged and LOVED.  When I … Continue reading 5 Reasons Why Minimalism Is NOT a CULT


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2 thoughts on “Planning Fallacy and Optimism Bias: It Happens to All of Us

  1. I did that this week. I’m off work on vacation and I made a huge list of blogging tasks I was going to get done. So far, I’ve only ticked one of them off the list. But I’ve done a bunch of other fun stuff, so the rest can wait.

    I love the idea of putting a time allocation beside each item on the to do list. This lets you be more realistic about what you can actually get done in a day.

    Liked by 1 person

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