I recently gave up on my attempt to create a routine, because I didn’t have the willpower to follow the schedule that I was trying to create for myself.
So this is a new way to try and create a routine for myself – I’m approaching the problem from a different side.
The plan is to bribe myself, both for completing major project milestones and also for work I do each day.
Part of this is that I’d like to see which method works better for me. My hypothesis is that bribery for doing the work will be better than bribery for having finished something. But right now, I’ll try both – and just see what’s what.
I have selected a few things that I would like to buy. They range from $7 to $50, but are all desirable.
Each reward is worth 100 points (regardless of price), and I will select only 1 reward at a time to work towards.
Points for Productive Actions
These are tasks that I can do every single day to earn points. By repeating these tasks, I am hopefully creating a routine for myself and then strengthening it until it truly becomes “routine”.
- 0.5 points = starting my work day with organizational activities, specifically with looking at my calendar book and writing down some microgoals (only get the points if I do this FIRST)
- 0.5 points = planning dinner, and picking up any necessary ingredients
- 1 point = working out on my own, for example: running outside or lifting weights.
- 1 point = doing some work on my paper (but less than 4 hours)
- 1 point = turning on Rescuetime’s distraction-blocker for the morning (from when I turn on the computer, to noon).
- 2 points = turning on Rescuetime’s distraction-blocker for the afternoon (from the end of lunch to the end of the “work day”, at least 120 minutes but ideally longer). Note, only get 2 points if I ALSO turned it on in the morning, otherwise the afternoon is only worth 1 point.
- 2 points = watching only 1 hour of television on a weekday (ie, my selected lunchtime show) – note that Big Bang Theory is excepted, if I watch it with my family.
- 5 points = doing at least 4 hours of work on my paper (doesn’t have to be all at once, can be broken up into intervals).
Points for Project Milestones
Rather than just rewarding the final completion of this project, I’m breaking it up into smaller milestones. For each milestone, I can earn two possible point totals:
- 6 points = if the milestone is completed according to the deadline I had set for it. This relates to my paper.
- 3 points = if the milestone is completed, but not by the original deadline that I had set for it. This also relates to my paper.
- 4 points = if the milestone does not have a deadline. This relates to my lower priority project: I’m trying to work through a book to teach myself some new skills, so that I can explore an idea that I have.
I first started thinking about this system last Thursday, and I’m going to give myself till this Thursday (April 7th) to make any last adjustments to my available points. After that, the system is fixed until I earn my first 100 points.
After each reward received, I will take some time to adjust the system. I should be able to change the point totals to better influence my behaviours: the points should relate to my priorities. High points available for tasks that are harder for me, and/or tasks that are more important. And then lower points available for tasks that I will do anyways.
Eventually, if this system works to change my behaviour, I will adjust the list so that I’m still challenged. My hope is that the easier things will become routine and I won’t need to be bribed to do them.
EDIT: On April 3rd, I adjusted my scale, as follows. Added points for using Rescuetime’s distraction-blocker, and expanded my “run” points to include other solo workouts. I also integrated my project milestones into my points-based system, rather than having a separate reward available for completing milestones.