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MindCORE Writing Room

Due to COVID-19 and surrounding health concerns, the in-person Writing Room is CANCELED for the remainder of the Spring 2020 Semester.



Instead, join us virtually!


1. Sign up for a motivation partner

2. Fill out a goal planning worksheet

3. Explore other motivational strategies & the research behind them!


Motivation Partners

Research shows that partnering with another for progress check-ins can utilize social pressure for increased motivation.1

Fill out this form to request an motivation partner. MindCORE will match individuals to connect virtually via video chat, phone, or email on a rolling basis.

We also suggest the following guidelines for effective partnership:

  • Focus on being constructive & celebrating accomplishments–leave judgment out!
  • Make your check-ins a priority
  • Try making listing action items at the end of each check-in to complete before the next one
  • Focus on goals that are PACT (Possible, Actionable, Clear, & Time-bound)


Goal Worksheet

Fill out this worksheet to utilize the following strategies to accomplish you goal(s)2:

  • Goal setting
  • Planning
  • Implementation Intentions
  • Commitment device

Learn more about these strategies below!


Research: Strategies for Success


Alter your environment to change your behavior2,3


Accountability Partners1: increases motivation by creating social consequences for failing to achieve your goal(s) (ie disappointing your partner, having to reveal your failure). 

Commitment Devices: decreases unwanted behaviors by reducing the options available to you (eg putting money on the line, deleting a distracting app).

Temptation Bundling: increases motivation by coupling fun or pleasurable activities with goal-oriented behaviors (eg listening to your favorite podcast only while exercising).

Situation Modification: decreases unwanted behaviors by removing the temptations out of view (eg working in a room without a TV or your phone).


Change the way you think to make goal-oriented behaviors more appealing and temptations less so2


Fresh Start Framing: increases motivation by creating a start for a new cycle to help you feel less connected to past failures and boost your confidence (eg New Year’s resolutions, emphasizing each month as a fresh start).

Self-Licensing Prevention: decreases unwanted behaviors by avoiding tempting choices in the present because you think you’ll be more self-controlled in the future (eg having a piece of cake now because you think you’ll start the diet tomorrow).

Self-monitoring: increases motivation by consistently observing your own behavior patterns & progress towards a goal (eg keeping track of how many hours you’ve spent on a project).

Goal Setting & Planning: increases motivation by directing your attention and energy towards a goal (making failure feel more like a loss) & planning specifically how to attain it (eg filling out a worksheet like this one).

Implementation Intentions: decreases unwanted behaviors by committing ahead of time to actions to overcome obstacles to your goal through “if-then” statements (eg “If I find myself wasting time on social media, then I will immediately close it and go back to work”) – thinking about how to problem-solve ahead of time takes away the stress of making the decision in the moment!

Emergency Reserves4: increases motivation after failure by allowing a set amount of allowances to try again (eg you have 2 extra days a month to go to the gym if you get off your schedule) – this increases the perception of goal-attainability and persistence after set-backs.

Citations at bottom of page.


About the Writing Room


The MindCORE Writing Room offers our faculty and affiliates dedicated space, time, and structure for high-productivity work.

Inspired by the Graduate Student Center’s Dissertation Bootcamp, the MindCORE Writing Room utilizes behavioral change research done by Angela Duckworth, Katherine Milkman, and others to facilitate a space of accountability for long-term writing and work projects.


The Structure

For each month-long session, the MindCORE Writing Room will be open one day a week from 8am-1pm with coffee, drinks, and light snacks. Participants may sign up for one or multiple monthly sessions; however, you must commit to attending all four days of each monthly session to sign up.

The core hours for each day are 9am-12pm, with additional times at 8-9am and 12-1pm for optional use. Each participant will be asked to sign a Commitment Contract pledging to attend their chosen dates as well as choose from the commitment devices provided. The rules of the space include no cell phones, no social media, and no talking beyond low volumes when necessary.


The Research

Recent findings suggest “situational strategies” for self-control (in which a person changes their environment or circumstances to better focus on their goals) are generally more successful than solely relying on oneself to resist temptation.3 The MindCORE Writing Room offers the chance to change the situation by providing a quiet workspace free from outside distractions.

The presence of other people has also been found to decrease the likelihood of giving into temptations that conflict with personal goals.5 Therefore, the Writing Room provides a community of other individuals with similar productivity goals.

Additionally, the Writing Room offers structure for three research-backed commitment devices (optional):

  • Goal Planning: Creating mental representations of what you would like to accomplish and making a plan for implementation intentions (forming “if, then” statements to plan the steps you’ll take to achieve your goal).2 You will then receive reminders of the plans you’ve made to support follow-though with goals.6
  • Monetary Pledge: A money deposit to be returned only upon the completion of the goal as a self-imposed punishment.2,7
  • Partnering: Partnering with another for progress check-ins to utilize social pressure for increased motivation.1




  1. Rogers, T., Milkman, K. L., & Volpp, K. G. (2014). Commitment Devices. Jama, 311(20), 2065. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.3485
  2. Duckworth, A. L., Milkman, K. L., & Laibson, D. (2018). Beyond Willpower: Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(3), 102-129. doi:10.1177/1529100618821893 
  3. Duckworth, A. L., Gendler, T. S., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Situational Strategies for Self-Control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), 35-55. doi:10.1177/1745691615623247 (4)
  4. Sharif, M. A., & Shu, S. B. (2019). Nudging persistence after failure through emergency reserves. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2019.01.004
  5. Hofmann, W., Vohs, K., Forster, G., & Baumeister, R. (2011). Everyday temptations: An experience sampling study on how people control their desires. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e634112013-146
  6. Karlan, D., Mcconnell, M., Mullainathan, S., & Zinman, J. (2010). Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving. doi:10.3386/w16205
  7. Bryan, G., Karlan, D., & Nelson, S. (2010). Commitment Devices. Annual Review of Economics, 2(1), 671-698. doi:10.1146/annurev.economics.102308.124324