When an Hour Feels Shorter: Future Boundary Tasks Alter Consumption by Contracting Time
48 Pages Posted: 19 May 2018
Date Written: May 2018
Consumers often organize their time by scheduling various tasks, but also leave some time unaccounted. The authors examine whether ending an interval of unaccounted time with an upcoming task systematically alters how this time is perceived and consumed. Eight studies conducted both in the lab and field show that bounded intervals of time (e.g., an hour before a scheduled meeting) feel prospectively shorter than unbounded intervals of time (e.g., an hour with nothing scheduled subsequently). Furthermore, consumers perform fewer tasks and are less likely to engage in relatively extended (though feasible) tasks during a bounded compared to an unbounded interval of time – even in the face of financial incentives. Finally, making a longer task easier to separate into subparts attenuates this effect.
Keywords: time management, scheduling, time consumption, well-being, subjective duration, prospective duration
JEL Classification: D90, D99, J22, M59, M31, E21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation