The Procastinator’s Clock

17 January 2007 at 2:49 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

Thomas Schelling, in his 1984 paper on voluntary self-restraint, popularized the example of the man who tends to oversleep and, knowing he tends to hit the snooze button several times on his alarm clock, places the clock across the room where he can’t reach it. My grad-school buddy Ted O’Donoghue has written several papers (with Matt Rabin) applying behavioral economics to procrastination, addiction, and other cases of what Ted calls “time-inconsistent preferences,” showing how rational agents deal with problems of self-control.

A simple solution for the procrastinator is setting the clock 15 minutes fast, but that only works if you forget you did it. David Seah has come up with a better solution: the Procrastinator’s Clock. It’s “guaranteed to be up to 15 minutes fast. However, it also speeds up and slows down in an unpredictable manner so you can’t be sure how fast it really is.” Brilliant. (HT: WebWorkerDaily)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera. Tags: .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Roughtheory.org » It’s Later Than You Think…  |  17 January 2007 at 4:17 pm

    [...] Organizations and Markets: David Seah has a new solution for those who are perpetually running late – a clock that sets [...]

  • 2. Cliff Grammich  |  21 January 2007 at 10:45 pm

    My very dear mother, a retired RN, did shift work for many years at a local hospital. She didn’t procrastinate, but she would use clocks in (what I thought were) odd ways. Her alarm clock struck 7 a.m., the hour her shift began, at the moment she needed to awaken for it. The kitchen clock was set to strike 7 at the moment she needed to leave for work. (This meant the kitchen clock was about 15 minutes fast, which is why this entry reminded me of that.) Her car clock was set to strike 7 at the moment she needed to be past the busiest intersection on her journey. I forget what other clocks were set to strike 7 at any time but the hour, but I do remember there wre others. I always thought it, well, kooky. But maybe Mom was just ahead of her time and should have sold sets of similar clocks. Goodness knows she didn’t need to try nearly so hard to confuse the rest of us . . .

  • 3. Chihmao Hsieh  |  23 January 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I found an alarm clock in a catalogue recently where the alarm won’t stop sounding unless you are awake enough to assemble a puzzle. Apparently a few companies sell these monsters. Here’s one:

    http://www.bitsandpieces.com/%5EUnique%20Gifts%5EClocks/08-W6510.html

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