When setting a deadline for yourself or others, setting it in the "present" increases the likelihood that the project will be completed on time. For example, a deadline of "this Friday" is more in the present than "next Monday." And while the difference is only a couple days, the conceptual difference to our minds is much larger, say researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

In an experiment, the researchers incentivized 295 farmers in India to open a bank account by promising to match 20% of their initial deposit. To set a timeframe on the opportunity, one group of famers was given a deadline within the current calendar year while the other was given a deadline in the following year, though just a month later. Surprisingly, seven times as many farmers opened the account when the deadline was more "in the present".

So next time you're having trouble finishing a project, you may consider moving the deadline ahead on the calendar. 

Read more at Pacific Standard

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