People are often late. Even very bright individuals have a voice in their head that says, "we'll be fine, we can wait…" and don't leave enough time to get where they need to be Some employ tricks, like buying Clocky, the alarm made at MIT that runs across the room. Others turn the time forward in their cars to fool themselves into getting more places early.
But after a while, we know our clocks are two or four minutes early, and the benefit is gone. How can we reignite that fire many people need to be on time?
I will make Running Early (working title). It will periodically and randomly adjust the time on your mobile devices (and ideally, your smart car) so that they are between 0 and 10 minutes fast. My bet is that you may not give yourself a bigger buffer if you know your clock is 5 minutes fast, but you will compensate if your clock is either 2, or 5, or 8 minutes ahead. Running Early will sync across devices but stay out of the way, subtly encouraging you to get out the door and to your meeting a few minutes early.
In a perfect world, we wouldn't need Running Early. We should have plenty of responsibility and self-control. But according to everything ever written by behavioral economics, we just don't. We know people like being a few minutes early, to be able to walk instead of run before an appointment, to sit and check their email or just enjoy the day. And yet they don't get this enough. Running Early removes cognitive dissonance from your life, giving you a handful of minutes you didn't know you had, and resulting in a happier and more prompt you.
The app's first screen would have a big green button that activates the time randomization, with no sign-in required. On Android I would have a 1x1 widget, similar to the "Data ON-OFF" app. One can always drag up from the bottom to peek at the correct time (I would have it like this because knowing the true time ruins the power of Running Early, so consumers should look at it quickly and rarely).
Monetization strategy #1 is to patent the time randomization and license or sell it to OEMs (if you have a friend or relative in intellectual property, please send me their contact info!). If I can't do this, monetization strategy #2 is to expand the feature set so that either Running Early builds a brand and user base, or so people will be willing to pay for a premium version. Additional features could include a check-in button on the Android notification tray, which would, if synced from the user's calendar app, generate a report showing how early they were, how their on-time rate varied by randomization settings, weather, and other items data geeks might enjoy. Integration with Foursquare would allow the user to log when they check in.
A patent would be ideal. But if I had to build a brand, I would connect Running Early to blogs about procrastinations, behavioral economics, building good habits, etc. The app would be linked to a lifestyle, a choice that says, "I'm not perfect, but I'm resourceful and smart enough to work on my lateness".
What do you think? Would this app add value / improve punctuality? Would people beyond me and those I've spoken to actually download this app? Thank you for your suggestions!