Spring break and the planning fallacy

Pre-spring break:
This is going to be an amazing break. I am going to get so much done! I have the dual monitor set-up in the study, a great chair, and lots of time. How could I possibly NOT get work done? It’s just going to happen. As a matter of course. I have three manuscripts that need to be completed and I will feel utterly depressed if I let all break go by without finishing them. Bottom-line: I have the trifecta of motivation, means, and opportunity. Nothing is going to stop meeeee!

Post-spring break:
Damn! Damn! Damn! It’s Saturday. Classes start on Monday. I have completed ONE of the three manuscripts, and the shortest one at that. Where did break go? How did the time vanish? One day I am chilling because it’s only Saturyday and I have a week ahead of me. Next thing I know, the week has blown by and the end of spring break is shaking me hard and screaming in my face. At least I correctly predicted that I would be miserable. :(

Analysis:
The evil villain “planning fallacy” has struck once again. Like most people, I assumed that I would get a lot more done in the time I had than I actually did. If Kahneman & Tversky were around, they would be shaking their heads and saying, “classic!” I focused only on all the reasons why I would get work done, and forgot about all the temptations that spring break presents. For starters, beautiful weather after a long and miserable winter. Oh, and let’s not forget lots of unscheduled time that ends up staying unscheduled rather than used fruitfully. Sigh. At least I can use this story as an example while teaching the fallacy?

**For more reading on the planning fallacy and what you can to do to avoid falling into its evil clutches: Kahneman & Tversky (1979) and Kruger & Evans (JESP, 2004).