A Little Help to Complete Unwanted Tasks

We all have those tasks. The tasks that sit on the bottom of your ‘To Do’ list, for weeks and sometimes months-on-end, because you don’t want to do them or they are too hard to achieve. Well now help is at hand, thanks to a new breed of social media websites.

Social Pressure

Over the last 12 months there has been a sudden growth in popularity of so-called social-pressure websites. These sites have been designed to help people meet their commitments or their tasks, by asking them to put their reputation and / or money on-the-line.

How does it Work?

First you create an account, and then you create a ‘commitment contract’. This could be anything from signing three new clients in the next month, to committing to finishing work at 6 pm two days a week so you can spend time with your family.

Once you have created this commitment, you then need to pledge a penalty, for if it is not achieved. Using the site StickK as an example, you set a monetary amount, which will get donated to charity if you do not achieve your goal. This charity could be one that you support, or one that you do not. The idea behind the ‘anti-charity’ is that you will try harder to achieve your goal before letting the charity you do not support have your money.

Another example is Aherk! which asks you to upload an embarrassing photo of yourself to the site, and if you do not achieve your goal, that photo is release to the public domain. Maybe a little extreme for a business task, but an interesting concept none-the-less.

Then there is 21 Habit. The tame version of the three examples, where you pay $21 dollars up-front and for each of the 21 days you achieve your task, you received $1 back, until you have (hopefully) received a full refund.

Behavioural Economics

These sites are not a new concept by any means. They are simply classic examples of behavioural economics: marrying social pressures with financial pressure. By adding a financial incentive, or making the cost of not achieving your goal painful, completing a task can become easier. Something parents have been trying to do with their kids for years, to tempt them to do the chores that they do not want to do.

And for a generation where our social media and online reputation almost trumps that of our real-world personas, these tools seem to be a natural fit.

It may not be the type of site that you will turn to on a daily basis, but if you need a little more incentive to clear out that stock room, or build your client list, it could be just the thing to kick you into shape.