Incentives: How I Get Anything Done


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A thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something.

One of my most used tips for getting anything done, is giving myself incentives. I am a terrible procrastinator, so while I certainly have long term goals, they don’t really make me get my butt into gear and do things. I work better with short term incentives and (near) immediate gratification. Let me give you an example:

The other day my mum asked me to run to the shop for her and get her some cream cheese. I didn’t really want to, because I’d just sat down after getting home from work. However, I would likely say yes, because I know it would make my mum happy. But at that moment, keeping my butt in the chair seemed more appealing, so I would likely postpone it until she absolutely needed it. Then she told me “I need it for a cake I’m making tonight, and if you go to the shop for me I’ll make some extra cake for you,” and in 0.3 seconds I was out of the chair and in the car on my way.

As soon as I sensed a reward shortly coming my way, I was much more inclined to get the task done, because that meant I could get the reward. That’s how most of us operate, and while much can (and have) be said about that, being away of as much as helped me work more efficiently.

I am a big fan of the study tip “Give yourself a reward”, be it by placing gummy bears on the pages of your textbooks, or scheduling your breaks and having snacks available.  As important as it is to have long term goals, which I do, I know I’m more likely to get stuff done if there is something in it for me in the short run.

So after this PSA on my favourite study tip, here are a few incentive suggestions:

  • Frozen grapes
  • Muesli bar
  • Bite of chocolate
  • Cup of tea
  • 2 minute tumblr break (time it to keep it from extending to hours)
  • An episode of your favourite tv show
  • An evening off
  • Going to be an hour earlier
  • Getting up half an hour later next morning
  • An item from your wishlist
  • Starbucks
  • Calling a friend
  • Watching a youtube video

Basically it can be whatever you want. Literally, make it what you want to be doing that moment. If you really want to watch my newest youtube video (sorry not sorry for the shameless self promo), but have to study, tell yourself that “After I study for 20 minutes, I’ll watch that, then go back to studying,”

I hope that this was useful to some of you, and that it might help you get something done when you’re going back to school this year!