2–4 Rule in Planning

Planning Your Week: Using the 2–4 Rule to Avoid Cognitive Bias

I learned a new thing to achieve my goals more effectively. I wnated to share that with others so that we can make our goals smarter and achieve them by making them little flexible and knowing more about our ability to perform. By following this rule we can monitor our performance as well as our techniue of goal setting. It make a broader image to see if we are setting SMART goals or just drafting goals and never achieve them.

Achieving a goal often requires you repeat certain actions. Lets take an example of going to the gym. A common problem is “The Planning Misconception” which is a psychological bias where we use overestimation for what we can accomplish or underestimation for the resources required for achieving our goals.

The 2–4 rule is one way to deal with this problem, by establishing an artificial trigger you can use to help monitor and adjust, set frequency and intensity for work which is best for you for acheving your goals. The main objective is to find a good balance.

The 2–4 rule is simple. After cnstructing your actions for achieving goals, if you fail to accomplish any of your targets two weeks in a row then you might be putting extra burden on yourself. This triggers re-evaluation of your targets, reducing the expectations that what you believe you can accomplish in a week.

On the other hand, if you are achieving all of your targets four weeks in a row you may not be setting enough challenging goals to achieve. This also triggers re-evaluation of your targets and ou should try to make them challenging.

For example, in an effort to get in better shape you may set a target of going to the gym four times a week for a 30 minute session. If after two weeks you only made it to the gym three times, instead of your targeted eight times, then using the 2–4 rule you would lower your target for the next two weeks. If you have acheived to made it to all eight sessions, then you might be underestimating your goals and must consider increasing the frequency or duration of session in gym.

While I have personally adopted the 2–4 rule after taking an online course as it works really well for me and I noticed an evident positive change in my performance, you can also adopt 3–6 or 2–5 rule. It depends on the nature of the goal you want to achive and what works best for you. I recommend all the readers of this post try few different combinations like 3–4, 4–6 etc. and see what is your requirement fo increasing productivity and performance. You can even try different rules for acheiving single goal, but I like simplicity so I started using the 2–4 combination but may be in future I will use some other combinations as well.

Using the 2–4 rule within a period of a few months you should have a good idea of what you really can accomplish in a given week. Certainly things will change slightly as you improve, using the 2–4 rule gives you a concrete way to deal with our hard-wired tendency to over plan and underperform.