Productivity behavior change systems help us reduce our time on unproductive activities. However, is that time actually saved, or is it just redirected to other unproductive
activities? We report an experiment using HabitLab, a behavior change browser extension and phone application, that manipulated the frequency of interventions on a focal goal and measured the effects on time spent on other applications and platforms. We find that, when intervention frequency increases on the focal goal, time spent on other applications is held constant or even reduced. Likewise, we find that time is not redistributed across platforms from browser to mobile phone or vice versa. These results suggest that any conservation of procrastination effect is minimal, and that behavior change designers may target individual productivity goals without causing substantial negative second-order effects.
CHI '19: Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing SystemsMay 2019
Geza Kovacs, Drew Mylander Gregory, Zilin Ma, Zhengxuan Wu, Golrokh Emami, Jacob Ray, and Michael S. Bernstein. 2019. Conservation of Procrastination: Do Productivity Interventions Save Time Or Just Redistribute It? In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '19). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper 330, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300560
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