I once tried setting my watch ahead a few minutes to help me make it to appointments on time. At first it worked, but not because I was fooled. I would glance at the watch, get worried that I was late, then remember that the watch is fast. But that brief flash acted as a sort of preview of how it feels to be late. And the feeling is a better motivator than the thought in the abstract.
But that didn’t last very long. The surprise wore off. I wonder if there are ways to maintain the surprise. For example, instead of setting the watch a fixed time ahead, I could set it to run too fast so that it gained an extra minute every week or month. Then if I have adaptive expectations I could consistently fool myself.
I think I might adjust to that eventually though. How about a randomizing watch? I don’t think you want a watch that just shows you a completely random time, but maybe one that randomly perturbs the time a little bit. Would a mean-preserving spread make sense? That way you have the right time on average but if you are risk-averse you will move a little faster.
You could try to exploit “rational inattention.” You could set the watch to show the true time 95% of the time and the remaining 5% of the time add 5 minutes. Your mind thinks that it’s so likely that the watch is correct that it doesn’t waste resources on trying to research the small probability event that it’s not. Then you get the full effect 5% of the time.
Maybe its simpler to just set all of your friends’ watches to run too slow.