A study in a 2005 Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that it is just human nature we allow for more time in the future that is actually available.
Do you find yourself committing to too many tasks and activities, only to realize on the day that you have much too much to do? Gal Zauberman, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and John Lynch Jr., PhD, of Duke University, say you’ll probably always do this:
Participants believed that both time and money would be more available in “a month” than “today,” and believed it more strongly for time than for money. A deeper investigation of a psychological phenomenon called “delay discounting,” in which people tend to lessen the importance of future rewards, showed that people also discounted future time more than both gains and losses in future money.
The key here is to assume that you won’t have as much time as you think. Much like the principle of giving yourself more time than you think you’ll actually need to get somewhere so to avoid being late, we should allow more time for everything else we plan to do; in case we balls up our projected time management.
More so now than ever; with more email, more networking and more distractions; putting a little less on our future plates might be just enough.