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74. Time Pressure: A Behavioral Economics Foundations Episode

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It’s that time of year when everything starts to speed up. We all have so much to do for our businesses and personal lives…how can we get it all done? This is the perfect time to talk about your brain on time pressure as we head into Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and limited time offers at every turn.  You may be considering if you should do a year end sale or offer in your business, or maybe you love taking advantage of the deals—or want to know why you can’t stop yourself from a deal sometime. Whatever the background, we all can learn about our brains on time pressure. And it isn’t just buying decisions that are impacted by this, which I will get into during the episode. You also have other impacts within your work and personal life where your precious commodity of time is limited and impacting your performance.  Think about it. If you had all the time in the world to make a decision…what would you do? How would you go about it? I discuss time pressure and how it impacts you as a consumer. Then I will discuss some ways to think about using time pressure in your promotions and offerings, and finally, some ways to think about how it impacts your actions in life and business.

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Show Notes:

  • [03:46] If you had all the time in the world to make a decision, what would you do?
  • [03:59] You would ideally be able to evaluate every important feature and aspect against each other, and devise a system for ranking values.
  • [04:39] Trying to consider every facet and every decision means you never actually make a decision.
  • [05:01] We need to structure our decisions properly and only consider what matters. The subconscious brain has to make a lot of those decisions because the conscious is too slow.
  • [05:47] The subconscious is heavily influenced by rules and concepts of personal biases and that doesn’t always lead to the best results in life and business.
  • [06:03] Limited quantities, opportunities and time are all closely tied to value in the brain.
  • [06:44] When there is plenty of time available, we might be calmer and the conscious has some time to think and process. But time pressure? Move over conscious! You’re too slow and I got this down.
  • [07:06] Studies have found people are less creative when they are under time constraints. They also defer making choices at all and if forced to make a choice, it’s not the best one. 
  • [07:25] Time pressure is a form of stress.
  • [08:24] How time pressure affects you as a consumer. People buy more during the holidays.
  • [09:34] When the brain is overwhelmed, the subconscious takes over and that can negatively impact your decisions.
  • [09:48] Studies show that the things the brain focuses on when making decisions shift and can actually reverse when time pressure is applied.
  • [10:03] When there is plenty of time available, people become risk-averse. When pressure is applied, we become loss averse and FOMO takes over.
  • [10:17] Time pressure can encourage people to buy an extra item or get something “just in case” especially when paired with a discount or benefit of some kind.
  • [10:42] Have a plan and a list if you have regrets about overspending after time discounted shopping.
  • [11:19] Make a list of everyone you want to shop for. List of dollar amount you want to spend on each person. Run this against your total budget for the holiday to make sure you are in alignment and make any necessary edits.
  • [12:12] Having a list makes it easier to hold yourself accountable to a plan.
  • [13:44] It’s good to set up rules when you are in a cold state so you are prepared when you get into the hot state.
  • [15:28] Having any check in point and taking a moment to breathe can help you determine if this thing you are interested in is truly a great deal for YOU at this moment.
  • [16:16] Making promos and offers. It’s important for most businesses to have promotions and offers at some time or another.
  • [16:28] Some ways you can incorporate time pressure in your offers is to have a discount or sale or gift that is only available until a certain date or time.
  • [17:04] Countdowns are very effective in showcasing a deadline and the time pressure.
  • [18:03] Another way you can look at time pressure is with a limited quantity.
  • [19:03] Look around at what makes YOU want to act. When have you bought something you didn’t realize you were ready for?
  • [20:33] It’s best to test and find out what works for your business. Time pressure can almost always be effective when used properly.
  • [20:59] Don’t feel like you have to do a Black Friday offer just because everyone else does.
  • [21:53] If it doesn’t work for your business…don’t do it!
  • [22:20] Actions you take in life and business and how they are impacted by time pressure.
  • [22:51] The worst case and best case scenario become the new normal and that impacts your decision.
  • [23:12] When you have lots of time to get something done, you have a status quo of all the important things to look at and do. You make a list and work through it and have risk accounted for.
  • [23:24] When there is time pressure, your brain looks at the biggest extremes – the worst thing that could happen if you don’t act and the best thing that could happen if you do.
  • [24:03] Time pressure may get you to finally act and get things done…but are they of high quality and what you would have actually wanted done?
  • [24:23] Studies have found that time pressure causes people to be less creative, less accurate, and for some people can cause them to freeze and revert to making no decision at all.
  • [26:23] Do you have any big things that are constantly moving to tomorrow or next week on the to do list? Constantly putting the important things off is a mindset block we work through in the Brainy Mindset Course. 
  • [26:47] You don’t need to be under constant pressure to get things done. If you know what your brain is doing, why it is putting those blocks out for you and why they are actually holding you back, you can find time to alleviate that pressure.
  • [27:55] Start by narrowing down your goals. Put in time budgets and deadlines based on what is truly in your day.
  • [29:56] Planning and breaking it down into micro-tasks or mini goals can help you to accomplish the big stuff because it gets you out of time pressure.
  • [30:09] Sometimes, time pressure and deadlines can be helpful, but it is best when you are setting those time limits yourself.
  • [30:26] Thoughtful time blocking and time pressure can help you move forward and make progress.
  • [30:59] Set rules for yourself and remember to say that you DON’T do the thing instead of CAN’T do the thing. Studies have found that the way you frame your self talk is really important.
  • [31:28] Take a step back and take time to evaluate what’s really going on.
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