PeDEL: Personal Data and Empowerment Lab

Improving Personal Informatics Tools for Personal Planning


Planning is an important activity for people to accomplish many common goals, such as losing weight, saving money, or increasing productivity. Yet, planning out concrete actions to accomplish these goals can be feel burdensome, tedious, and time-consuming. Common time-management tools such as calendars and to-do lists can help people keep track of their plans, but they do not encourage making plans nor do they support people in the process of creating a plan. This limits how many people regularly engage in planning. This project builds innovative software that makes it easier to develop a daily plan to help people achieve time management and productivity goals. By observing how study participants use this new software to make daily plans to manage their time, this project will identify ways that future AI-powered systems can support regular planning and help people accomplish their goals. People who succeed in making these changes can become more productive, healthier, and more financially stable. All three of these outcomes have enormous impact for their individual lives, and collectively for our society.

This project builds on insights from preliminary work to design and implement software that supports the planning process as a proof-of-concept. It then deploys this software to conduct a small within-subjects pilot study to demonstrate that it lowers the burden of making a plan in comparison to any other tools (paper or digital) that participants wish to use. The project will evaluate participants' experiences by collecting and comparing data through interviews, usage log data, self-report data, and survey questions. Results from this early stage work will provide a foundation to develop more generalized principles for technology to support daily action planning in combination with other behavior change techniques, which has the potential to further increase the effectiveness of software-based behavior change tools for many domains.