How to Finish Your Tasks 50% Faster

Understanding how we perform best is the key to getting more done in less time

Darius Foroux
5 min readMay 18

In the 90s, a Ph.D candidate conducted the now famous “cookie bowl” experiment: In a room with a two-way mirror, a group of undergraduates faced two bowls. One bowl contained cookies, the other had radishes.

The researchers lied to the subjects, telling them that the test was supposed to check their “taste perceptions.” They instructed one group to eat only from the cookie bowl, while the other group ate only from the radish bowl.

Then they gave the two groups a set of complicated puzzles to solve. And left the groups alone in the room. Thinking that no one was watching, some of the stressed radish bowl group members started taking from the cookie bowl.

That was the real intent of the experiment: To see how long the radish group would lose their willpower to the temptation of the cookie bowl.

Most of the radish group members also quit their puzzles faster than the cookie bowl group. The lead researcher concluded:

“By exerting their willpower to resist cookies, we had pushed them into a realm where quitting came more easily.”

The experiment showed how, as people’s willpower decreases, they allow distractions (like the cookie bowl) to take over.

Finishing large tasks is like going on a long race: Your energy and speed at the first kilometers likely wouldn’t be the same as the latter.

So here are 3 steps to ensure that your limited willpower, motivation, and productivity are maximized to finish tasks fast.

When I live by these things, I simply get twice as much done in the same amount of time.

1. Separate Creative and Non-Creative tasks

You’re in creative mode when the task requires a lot of brain activity and focus. These are also the tasks that often engage you more.

  • Writing an article
  • Planning an event
  • Plotting a branding campaign
  • Conceptualizing design

Darius Foroux

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