I'm a big fan of lists. My musing on time management mentioned this and adding them to my workflow increased my productivity and gave me the flexibility to manage from afar. At the same time, I've become accustomed to add to these lists to the point of overwhelming myself. They quickly overflow and become a drag, defeating the purpose of using them in the first place. I started to seriously question their usefulness. I was ready to toss them when I had a breakthrough.
One morning, working at a local café, I began to survey the environment around me. The bell on the front door chimed and an older woman, puppy in tow, walked in. Then it registered: we're really not that different from our pets. What happens when our furry friends obey our command? We reward them with a treat! Well, guess what? Humans need treats too. Fast Company's article on reaching your potential and staying productive strikes all the right chords. I have added a seventh ritual: reward yourself.
Once I started to reward myself the drag items on my list magically diminished. What sorts of rewards, you might ask? Whatever fits your fancy! The more genuine, the better. In the past I've told myself, "if you get this done in an hour, you can watch an episode of Mad Men." Recently, I've rewarded myself by going for a walk, booking a massage, and taking a midday yoga class. I'll go out on a limb to say that 90% of the time, the project in question gets finished. Deadlines are a powerful tool to aid in crossing items off the list. If you aren't setting deadlines, procrastination will get the best of you. If you pair a deadline with a treat, you'll be unstoppable.
Implementing this is wicked simple:
- Select a list item you've been putting off.
- Settle on your reward.
- Set a realistic deadline.
That's it! This simple formula works every time. It's fun to get creative with your rewards. If you aren't enjoying yourself, you're doing something wrong.
How will you reward yourself today? What's in your bag of treats?