Human Programming With If/When-Then Plans

Program
noun
1. a planned series of future events, items, or performances.
verb
1. provide (a computer or other machine) with coded instructions for the automatic performance of a particular task.
2. arrange according to a plan or schedule. 

How many productivity/time management systems can you name? The typical solutions that come to mind include Franklin-Covey planning systems, GTD, Bullet Journaling, Hobonichi, and the Pomodoro technique.

Most Professionals used solutions like Franklin-Covey's day planners prior to the digital revolution. When the world went digital, hundreds of digital mobile applications vied to replace the paper-based planners and systems. I wonder why Franklin-Covey has not been able to pull off a good, viable software vision of their systems and principles. In my view there is a gaping hole in all that is presently available, and I still wonder why they don't pursue this disruption avenue. But that's another matter.

The point is that people have long invested in improving their behavior. As long as we're psychologically healthy, people are on the lookout for ways to improve. And so this is where human behavior and programming come together. Programmers make use of if/then statement to program the behavior of physical and digital machines. For humans, It turns out there are some very interesting experiments that suggest that If/When-Then statements are an effective tool we can leverage toward our goals and achievements. Apparently it is so effective that it can result in a 2 to 3x increase in the likelihood of achieving our goals.

With If/When-Then planning, rather than relying merely upon the goal statement, such as "I intend to reach X", instead you essentially plant in your mind a trigger or an intention with a statement such as, "If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal‐directed behavior X." As author Robert Cialdini describes the technique, if the goal is to watch your weight, you would pick a cue and link an action to that cue such as, "If/when, after my business lunches, the server asks if I'd like to have dessert, then I will order mint tea."

References:
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065260106380021
- http://www.businessinsider.com/robert-cialdini-if-when-then-planning-helps-you-achieve-your-goals-2016-9 

 

Todd Hopkinson