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Scheduling as a Science to Streamline Workflows and Maximize Efficiency

Applying behavioral psychology insights to scheduling: priming, improving productivity, addressing the planning fallacy, using internal and external motivation, creating positive associations with tasks; benefits of the right scheduling software.    

The science of behavioral psychology, which focuses on understanding how people behave in different situations, is applied to scheduling to explain employee behavior at the workplace. These scientific insights can help employers understand why some of their employees procrastinate, what motivates them, and how they make decisions. Employers can optimize productivity and time management by aligning insights with scheduling practices.

Priming, decision fatigue, and productivity hacks

Priming is a scientific phenomenon where being exposed to one stimulus affects a subsequent response. It can be applied in practice by starting the workday off with a productive and positive activity. This will set the tone for the rest of the day, influencing your employees’ attitudes and enhancing their motivation to complete their tasks. This will maximize efficiency at work.

To overcome the temptation of immediate distraction, you could break tasks into smaller steps and offer rewards for their completion.

Behavioral psychologists have found that the best decisions are made earlier in the day. This is because people’s cognitive resources are at their highest, resulting in better choices. You could schedule essential tasks and decisions in the morning and routine tasks outside of employees’ peak cognitive hours. Automate repetitive tasks – workflow automation can improve business processes by 60% and reduce repetitive tasks by 60-95%. 

In 2024, almost 80% of companies don’t use a productivity tracking system to differentiate between productive and unproductive team members. In 2023, more than 50% of employees reported being relatively unproductive at the workplace.  

Recent McKinsey research reveals a startling fact: productivity losses due to employee fatigue and disengagement cost a medium-size enterprise $228-$355 million each year. That is a loss of more than a billion over five years. Time tracking is one of the best ways to boost productivity. Other ways include:

  • Identifying stimuli that trigger unproductive behavior.
  • Replacing them with productive routines.
  • Rewarding employees for sticking to them. 

Addressing the planning fallacy 

People’s proneness to underestimate how much time they need to complete tasks is also known as the planning fallacy. Behavioral science suggests that people make more realistic estimates when they use past experiences as a reference point. When faced with a particularly time-consuming task, remind your team of a similar task they completed in the past. Use that experience to allocate reasonable periods of time to future tasks. 

Tapping into internal and external motivation when scheduling tasks

Internal motivation comes from within, driven by personal interest and satisfaction. External rewards or consequences contribute to external motivation. Tap into both types when scheduling tasks. Try to align tasks with your employees’ interests. To ensure timely completion of tasks, use accountability or rewards. Place tools within reach and remove distractions to promote efficiency.

When someone associates a task with difficulty or negativity, they are more likely to miss deadlines. To reframe this dynamic, help employees associate tasks with rewards or other positive experiences. This will increase engagement and motivation.  

Benefits of choosing the right scheduling tool  

The best scheduling tools track time to help allocate it effectively, ensuring that tasks are completed within deadlines. By allocating time slots for different activities, they help individuals and teams prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently.

Scheduling tools facilitate coordination and collaboration among team members. They help them see what tasks need to be done, who is responsible for each task, and when they need to be completed. 

Scheduling allows teams to distribute resources such as manpower, equipment, and materials effectively. Organizations can optimize resource utilization and minimize wastage by planning ahead and assigning resources to specific tasks at specific times.

Scheduling enables the optimization of workflows by identifying bottlenecks, smoothing out peak workloads, and minimizing idle time. Organizations can identify opportunities for streamlining processes and improving efficiency by analyzing historical data and performance metrics.

While schedules provide structure, they should also allow for adaptability and flexibility to accommodate changes or unexpected events. Modern scheduling tools often include features such as real-time updates, notifications, and the ability to reschedule tasks on the fly, allowing teams to respond quickly to changing circumstances.


  • Priming, decision fatigue, and productivity hacks
  • Address the planning fallacy 
  • Tap into internal and external motivation
  • Choose the right scheduling tool