I am always trying to hack my own brain and figure out how to motivate myself to accomplish tasks when I would rather be decomposing in bed, so I recently instated a points system. Each “productive” activity (which is, admittedly, kind of a subjective category) gets a value of 1-5 points based on how many spoons/how much effort they take. For example, laundry is 3 points, a doctor’s visit is 4 points, and brushing my teeth is 1 point. My current goal is 5 points per day, but I plan on gradually increasing that goal as I build mastery. So far, it’s going really well!
I also instated a reward, which is kind of a contentious subject for me. (I think many rewards are stuff like food/treats/rest/relaxation, which we should be giving to ourselves anyway.) My reward for hitting 5 points is being able to open a particular mobile game that is my current special interest. If I don’t hit 5 points, or haven’t yet, I am still allowed to play other video games or watch TV or lay in bed if I need to chill, but playing this game is only for after I hit 5 points. This reward is motivating enough to make me want to accomplish things, without preventing me from doing the things that help me recharge over the course of the day.
This system has the advantage of being flexible. For example, yesterday I started out with a plan to do laundry, but I really didn’t feel like it, so I did other activities that equaled the same amount of points. Instead of feeling guilty that I didn’t do what I planned to do, I just accepted that I earned my 5 points and moved on to playing Hearthstone.
Not only is it helping me get things done in a flexible way, the points system is helping me REST. Once I hit the relatively achievable/slightly challenging 5 points goal, I can do whatever I want without feeling guilty. It’s absolutely amazing to not sit around just thinking of all the productive stuff I could be doing and hating myself for not being able to do it.
In the words of Marsha Linehan, “I am doing my best and I can do better!”
If you would like to formulate your own similar points system, all you really need is a notes app or a piece of paper for keeping track of how many points an activity is worth, and then a way of keeping track of your tasks.