Why You Should Use Implementation Intentions

With less than a week left in the semester, final exams are just around the corner. With final exams just around the corner, panic ensues.

With the panic mode kicked in, decreased productivity, increased stress and anxiety, too much crying and avoidance than is beneficial will occur.

What are your goals for today? Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This semester, I learned something called “Implementation Intentions” in PSYC 385 – Motivation and Emotion. Although the name can be a mouthful,  implementation intentions are actually just “if-then” statements paired with a goal you have.

These statements help you achieve your goals by reminding you to act, narrowing attention, and directing away from distractions.

However, you can’t just make any “if-then” statements related to your goal and pray that you’ll be productive in achieving the goal.

So how do you make an effective implementation intention?

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Choose a goal you have and a specific desired behavior. The more specific the statement, the more effective it will be. For example, we all have goals of studying for a certain class, reading certain chapters for an exam, or re-writing certain pages of notes.

  • An example of a poor implementation intention would be “If I get distracted while I’m reading, I will ignore it.”
  • A better statement would be “If I hear the ding from my phone that signals a text message, I will ignore it.”

In reality, there are a number of events and stimuli that could distract you and explicitly stating exactly what you will ignore can will better prepare you when the distraction occurs.

You can make these as specific as you want and cover as many things as you want, but the key is to make sure they are all plausible events that could distract you.

Implementation intentions work because you are creating a connection between a situational cue and a behaviour in your brain.

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

With many last minute assignments, exams, papers, students can easily feel overwhelmed by all their responsibilities to the point where they just, well, shut down.

It can be hard to pull yourself out of a hole of hopelessness but I believe with practise and the use of implementation intentions, we can all achieve our goals!

If you plan on using these, let me know how it goes for you! Best of luck to everyone during this hectic time in the semester!


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