Shaping Experience

I had heard a while ago that the ideal holiday was one in which you had a fairly bad start to it, but with a peak experience close to the end of the holiday. The rationale is that we tend to base our judgement of the holiday on the range of our trough-to-peak experiences. The larger the spread between the trough and the peak, with the peak occurring towards the end of the experience, the better we perceive the experience to be.

I couldn’t remember where this information came from, but today I was reading the Wikipedia article on the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, and it refers to this result.

I’ve been thinking about how we can use this shaping of our recollections to improve our behaviours. One of the things I’m trying to improve is my use of the adaptive time-boxing of tasks. I set the length of time for the time-box based on the amount of energy and focus I currently have. During periods where I am lacking mental energy, I allocate very short amounts of time for my time-boxes – even as little as 5 minutes. An improvement to my time-boxing regime might be to do something like spending the last few minutes of the allocated time doing something like listening to a favourite piece of music while I work. The idea being to try and shape the experience to being something more enjoyable – to create an anchor to make it more likely to keep doing time-boxes.