Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tip #8: A Great Little Procrastination Tip

I do a whole class on procrastination with a lot of advice for my students but I just saw something today that I had to pass on.

From "Goat Lady" in the comments of advice column:

"I will warn you in advance that this sounds hokey, but you can train yourself like you can any other critter and it works surprisingly well.
Get a big bag of your favorite small treat. Jelly beans, dove chocolates, wasabi peanuts, whatever. When you start a work task, have one! When you’ve spent a solid five minutes on it, have another! When you complete the task, have several (this is what animal trainers call a jackpot).
Do that for about a week, then drop the jelly bean you get just for starting but continue to periodically reward yourself for working and give yourself a jackpot for finishing. Gradually stretch how long you work between rewards until all you’re getting is the jackpot at the end.
It all sounds silly because your upper-level brain knows exactly what you’re doing, but you’re not dealing with your upper-level brain here. Your tiny mammal brain is frightened, because it associates work tasks with punishment. You’re slowly convincing it that in fact work tasks do not mean punishment, they mean jelly beans! Tiny mammal brains love tasty food, and you may find it easier than you think to get your tiny mammal brain to relax."

I do something like this when I'm grading (using peanut butter M&Ms)- but without this structure.  I'm definitely going to try it, though.