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  • Writer's pictureAsia

How to use the Yerkes-Dodson Law to your advantage

We have always heard that we should set our own deadlines, even if someone else has given us one. But I never understood why this was so important, until now.

According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which states:

performance increases with physiological or mental arousal (stress) but only up to a point. When the level of stress becomes too high, performance decreases.


When I'm giving an assignment, too often I wait until the last minute so that I can get that adrenaline rush. Although I might complete the task, by the time I'm finished, I'm exhausted and stressed and am simply trying to get the job done. This cycle doesn't lead to excellence, it's a recipe for burnout.


Now, I'm consistently setting my own deadlines that are in advance of someone else's deadline. This way, I'm adding healthy stress because I know that I'm actually early and not late. My early start also gives me time to discover blocks and issues that I can resolve well in advance.


I like to look at it in three ways. The first is where I don't set a personal deadline. When I don't do this, I feel like I have "a lot of time." The Parkinson's law kicks in and I end up stressed and rushing at the end because I don't have a sense of urgency.

The second is that I create my own finishline (instead of deadline) that is in advance of the given finishline. By doing this,

I generate a sense of urgency without the stress.

The final way is to save the sense of urgency for the stated finishline which again, leads to a stressful finish.


The more we can set our own timeline that's in advance of a finishline that someone else gives us, the better we will feel. The kicker, is that we also can benefit from this mind shift if we apply it to ourselves. When we have something that is important to us, let's create a finish line and complete the task in advance of this finish line.


How can you get your OMT done earlier in the day? If this is not applicable to your OMT, what finishline can you set for yourself at work? If your OMT has nothing to do with a timeline, how can you plan in advance so you're not having to decide what to eat at 5:00 when you're hungry? Think about it.


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Cheering you on,

Asia

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