Issue 3 of How to Beat Procrastination
It is a basic human principle to finish the majority of one’s work during the very last period of allotted time. Thus, only rewarding yourself when you’ve reached your goal isn’t enough to provide enough motivation in your daily work. To be able to endure periods of boredom and discomfort we need to regularly reward our accomplishments. However, most of us have made a habit of only rewarding ourselves upon completing a task, while underestimating the importance of smaller rewards to get us started.
Through combining effort and rewards you can learn to associate your work with something desirable. This phenomenon is called industriousness, i.e. learned diligence, a term that was coined by Robert Eisenberger, professor of psychology at University of Houston. Instead of only rewarding yourself upon completing a task, the trick is to also reward yourself when you’re approaching your goals. In this way you shift focus from rewarding the final product to rewarding the performance itself.
Set up your own, continuous reward schedule. Don’t be afraid to think creatively. It could be about indulging in some Instagram time after an hour of focused work, or ending a hard day’s work with some take out in front of the TV. Remember that in order to succeed, you need to come up with a predictable reward. It’s important that it’s clear what you need to do to reach the reward, that you always reward yourself after doing what you set out to do - and that not sticking to the plan means there will be no reward.