Balance · Observations · Writing

Using a Rewards System During the Workday

In transitioning from working full-time at a day job to working full-time from home, I’ve learned a few things about how my brain works. One thing I’ve noticed is that I need incentives to get a good block of work done at a time. Some days, I can just sit and crank out each of my tasks with no attention problems at all. These days are rare, but they do happen. Most other days, I’ve got to have breaks. However, I don’t just take breaks willy-nilly. I find out things I either need or want to do and then I create a system for rewarding myself with breaks.

Right now, I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I adore it. It is like magical fairy dust for my little creative heart. However, if I didn’t check myself, I’d be on Pinterest all day! Just because I work at home does NOT mean I can do that. So, I make deals with myself. I’ll say, “Alright, L.M., Get one full-page of writing done, then you get to look at Pinterest for 1 minute.” You know what? I got my writing done ON time today and still got to have breaks and Pinterest time. It was a huge incentive for me to write a page and write a good page. I didn’t want to rush through it to get to Pinterest. I really wanted to work hard and get a good page of writing done before I took a break.

The mini-breaks work well for me and they don’t always look the same each day. The rewards aren’t always the same either. Here’s some advice if you’re working from home, but are having trouble with your attention span. Start setting incentives and rewards for yourself. Examples below:

Reward Examples

>>Checking Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media sites

>>Getting a healthy snack from the pantry

>>Taking a quick walk or doing a yoga vinyasa

>>Doing some housework

>>Doing ONE step in a crafty project but no more

>>Journaling

>>Planning//List-making

Now, you might say, “Wait…what? Housework isn’t a reward!” It is if you are pressed for time in the evenings and would like to knock out some stuff during the day! Besides, as Marry Poppins once said, “In every job that is to be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game!”

Rewards you might not want to include in your list

>>Sugary or overly salty snacks— This can lead to a bad habit that negatively effects your health

>>Super time-consuming rewards like a major house project or errands.— If you must run errands, you’ll already have to re-work your day around them.

>>Going to the bathroom.— This is not a break. This is a necessity. Go when you need to! (Unless you’re just writing that absolutely perfect paragraph and absolutely CANNOT go until it’s done, LOL.)

>>Talking on the phone— People have a hard time limiting talk time even when there is a lot of work to be done.

Now, after you’ve made a list of rewards you’d like to have, you need to figure out how you’ll earn them during your workday. I recommend setting up a “get a certain amount of work done” system instead of an “every hour” etc. system. This will ensure that you get a lot of work done. If you say you’ll take a break and reward yourself every hour, you might just sit and stare at the screen with no real incentive to get any work done. However, if you set certain amounts of work you must have, you’ll work hard to earn your break//reward.

My examples are:

>>Get one page of good writing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get five to ten pages of editing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my Maiedae work done, then take a break (10-15 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my editing and other tasks done for the day, then take the evening off! (i.e., finish a full workday, then relax at night.)

Find out what your incentives will be and how you’ll organize your system. I think you’ll see an increase in your own productivity and you’d be surprised by how much it can lift your mood and keep your brain happy.

What sorts of reward//incentives system do you use for your work? I’d love to hear!

~Thanks for stopping by,

L.M.

P.S>// I realize I have a picture of candy as my image today. I also realize the irony of it, since I recommend NOT using sweets as a reward for your work. CANDY=BAD REWARD! DO NOT USE! LOL. I just put it up there since most people identify candy as a happy, child-like thing. 🙂 LOOK at the candy and get happy feelings. DO NOT eat the candy as a reward for your workday!! Don’t start a bad sugar habit during the week!

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