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Ticking off your to-do list feels really good but the drive to finish a task can undermine your wellbeing and productivity.

You’ve been working on a task most of the morning and are nearly finished – but not quite. Lunch time arrives, and despite feeling tired and hungry, you tell yourself, “I’ll just finish this first.” 

This is our completion bias speaking. Completion bias is the tendency of people to feel compelled to complete a task once they have started it. It is fuelled by the pleasure we experience on finishing a job. It’s a powerful psychological force that drives us to keep going until the end so we can enjoy the satisfaction of crossing an item off our list. We are literally happier when we can say “done”, because the brain releases the feel-good hormone dopamine when we achieve goals.

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