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HOT TOPIC How I hacked my dopamine to train and reward desired work behaviors and halt procrastination

ProcessPro

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I've been using peanut butter m&m's and its working great. However, it only works great when I have a list of tasks that have "come to me." I.E. people message me or I have a project come in. I have an established business where people come to me, so I've been on cruise control working 1-2 hrs a day for quite a few months now.

This reward system doesn't help me do things to "progress" my business. I get done what "came to me" that day and then I feel like my list is over and I do nothing the rest of the day. Can't bring myself to build out my business or start a new one, partly because I don't even know what the next step is.

That's it... when I know what the next step is, I can use this reward system. When I have no idea, this doesn't work anymore.

Any thoughts?
You might have to incorporate things that you really crave as rewards, i.e. true rewards and make them contingent upon doing the work first. It's an additional challenge when you have to regulate the reward yourself. It would be better to have someone else be in control of that so as to reward you only when you've met your commitment. I'd give this some thought as a start.
 

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reedracer

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I've been using peanut butter m&m's and its working great. However, it only works great when I have a list of tasks that have "come to me." I.E. people message me or I have a project come in. I have an established business where people come to me, so I've been on cruise control working 1-2 hrs a day for quite a few months now.

This reward system doesn't help me do things to "progress" my business. I get done what "came to me" that day and then I feel like my list is over and I do nothing the rest of the day. Can't bring myself to build out my business or start a new one, partly because I don't even know what the next step is.

That's it... when I know what the next step is, I can use this reward system. When I have no idea, this doesn't work anymore.

Any thoughts?
I've been thinking about this as well. 1. I don't want to associate good habits with sugar and 2. I want to make the reward match the habit.
Right now I'm thinking about a system similar to Starbucks points or air miles.
Create a list of rewards, a massage, new shoes, an afternoon at the movies, a trip to Eirie to eat BBQ, etc.
Then assign points or stars to each reward and create rules to acquire the points.
5 minutes work = 1 star
Post a new product to your store = 2 Stars
Complete the feedback loop on a product = 5 stars, etc.
Make the reward achievable and the stars acquirable and be sure to spend the stars from time to time.
Continue with the sounds and yippees but replace the food with a star system.
 

Primeperiwinkle

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Someone said gummy bears?

*jumps into room and looks so hopeful only to be horribly disappointed because this is just the internet...
 

BellaPippin

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I've been using peanut butter m&m's and its working great. However, it only works great when I have a list of tasks that have "come to me." I.E. people message me or I have a project come in. I have an established business where people come to me, so I've been on cruise control working 1-2 hrs a day for quite a few months now.

This reward system doesn't help me do things to "progress" my business. I get done what "came to me" that day and then I feel like my list is over and I do nothing the rest of the day. Can't bring myself to build out my business or start a new one, partly because I don't even know what the next step is.

That's it... when I know what the next step is, I can use this reward system. When I have no idea, this doesn't work anymore.

Any thoughts?
Idk how many things "come to you" but let's suppose that with good time management, would you be able to "pay yourself first" and use your fresh energy for an hour or two of working on your own stuff, ESPECIALLY rewarding yourself for this, then go on for the rest of the day?
 

BellaPippin

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I've been thinking about this as well. 1. I don't want to associate good habits with sugar and 2. I want to make the reward match the habit.
Right now I'm thinking about a system similar to Starbucks points or air miles.
Create a list of rewards, a massage, new shoes, an afternoon at the movies, a trip to Eirie to eat BBQ, etc.
Then assign points or stars to each reward and create rules to acquire the points.
5 minutes work = 1 star
Post a new product to your store = 2 Stars
Complete the feedback loop on a product = 5 stars, etc.
Make the reward achievable and the stars acquirable and be sure to spend the stars from time to time.
Continue with the sounds and yippees but replace the food with a star system.
Ok but do you like, DON'T do those things already? I feel anything I can think of is something I would normally do. Not like I do those things on the super regular because I'm trying to save but.. say do you not do them if you don't earn your stars? Is going to the movies THAT exciting that gets you going?

Someone check my pulse?
 

MakeItHappen

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I've been thinking about this as well. 1. I don't want to associate good habits with sugar and 2. I want to make the reward match the habit.
Right now I'm thinking about a system similar to Starbucks points or air miles.
Create a list of rewards, a massage, new shoes, an afternoon at the movies, a trip to Eirie to eat BBQ, etc.
Then assign points or stars to each reward and create rules to acquire the points.
5 minutes work = 1 star
Post a new product to your store = 2 Stars
Complete the feedback loop on a product = 5 stars, etc.
Make the reward achievable and the stars acquirable and be sure to spend the stars from time to time.
Continue with the sounds and yippees but replace the food with a star system.
I agree. I don't like to use sugar as well BUT it's likely one of the best ways to condition yourself.
You won't use sugar in the mid-term and long-term. Just for a brief time frame.
I avoided it in the past and only wanted to use healthy rewards, but for now this hasn't worked to well.

I also tried my on system with point that I can than exchange for bigger rewards but I don't know. I wasn't as excited about it because it doesn't feel that much like "instant gratification".
But I would try it anyways. Maybe it works for you. If it does great. If it doesn't try a stronger short-term reward.

One thing besides snacks as a reward that I think I would enjoy are scratch cards.
With each scratch card potentially being worth thousands of dollars it seems like a way bigger reward than it actually is.

Maybe I should go and get me some 25 cent scratch cards and try it. ;)
 

bornoim

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Sep 5, 2019
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It's a good time for me to discover this forum, great thread!

So I experimented a bit with the system myself, only thing I changed is instead of process oriented rewards (like rewarding onself for working 5 minutes) I tried product oriented rewards (finishing tasks) which I generally prefer.

The advantage I see in this is:
- It gives you an incentive to split tasks into sub tasks for which you can reward yourself upon completion. This makes your work more structured and further decreases procastrination. Probably the biggest plus for me.
- It gives you an incentive to get shit done fast, maybe even skip not so important tasks entirely, so you get your reward faster.

The disadvantage might be, that rewards are not as reliably frequent as with the time split approach.

So I don't know if this approach is really an improvement and I'm only at it for three days, but I'll continue experimenting. It's perhaps subjective, but in the past when I only focused on working rather than finishing stuff, I tended to be quite ineffecient ( although I tend to be quite inefficient in general lol)
 

ProcessPro

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Apr 26, 2018
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It's a good time for me to discover this forum, great thread!

So I experimented a bit with the system myself, only thing I changed is instead of process oriented rewards (like rewarding onself for working 5 minutes) I tried product oriented rewards (finishing tasks) which I generally prefer.

The advantage I see in this is:
- It gives you an incentive to split tasks into sub tasks for which you can reward yourself upon completion. This makes your work more structured and further decreases procastrination. Probably the biggest plus for me.
- It gives you an incentive to get shit done fast, maybe even skip not so important tasks entirely, so you get your reward faster.

The disadvantage might be, that rewards are not as reliably frequent as with the time split approach.

So I don't know if this approach is really an improvement and I'm only at it for three days, but I'll continue experimenting. It's perhaps subjective, but in the past when I only focused on working rather than finishing stuff, I tended to be quite ineffecient ( although I tend to be quite inefficient in general lol)
I think this is a great idea. Keep us posted on how it's working for you. I'm personally interested. I'm going to try this approach myself.
 

André Casal

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Jun 1, 2018
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I'm combining this approach (just finished my TAGulator this morning) with the 90 day focus challenge from this thread.

I work in iterations of planning, research/learning and execution, but I tend to stay stuck in planning, so the key takeaway from the 90 day focus challenge + click training is that I'll only reward myself when I actually do work that moves my business forward, i.e. execution.

Let's see how that goes. Today's the first 90 day challenge day :)
 

ChrisV

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MakeItHappen

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Tried this approach yesterday evening after a shitty day.

It worked like a charm.

Started with 5 minute chunks and ended up with 15 minute chunks.

I will try to use this method whenever I am feeling stuck to get some momentum.

Here are a couple obervations:
- (laud) positive self talk felt just as important as a reward as the little snack
- after some time I felt so good about myself that I didn't want to eat the snack anymore
- because teeth health is important to me I cleaned my mouth with water after every small snack and I chewed a teeth-friendly gum while doing the work intervals
 

BellaPippin

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Wolfman

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Hi Bekit and...,
This thread is good stuff. What much of it amounts to is forming good habits. There are experts (Charles Duhigg)who have scientific evidence of how/why this works. There is a 3 step process; trigger+behavior+reward.
Part of what causes many, myself included, to lapse is that bad habits are so ingrained in our cerebral cortex that those neural pathways are basically there to stay.
The good news is that these bad habits can be transformed into good ones. One caveat is that you have to believe that this process works.
The first week is really tough because we have to use a lot of will-power, something we have in finite quantities that can easily be depleted during the day.
It really comes down to a probability game that is quite logical. By creating good habits you don't need as much will-power. That increases the chances that you'll succeed because you'll have enough will power to get you through the tough times (they always come!)
Tune in again to find out how to get through the tough times...
(I'm offering a one time limited offer of $12 to get the long-awaited solution. j/k)
Wolfman
 

cjibjibson

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Sep 14, 2019
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I have been thinking of a similar concept, but yours is much more refined, I love it.

However, I will still keep some of my idea, and adapt it to yours and mine might help some of you too.

The difference with mine is that instead of using chocolate chips I use coins and a glass piggy bank.

I will set the timer for whatever I need and then for every successful batch of work done, I will drop a coin into the piggy bank.

maybe it's 5cent, 10cent, 25cent or 50cent I'm not sure yet.

And at the end of every week or month, this money MUST be spent on something fun and irresponsible. Right now I'm thinking clothes, I enjoy buying clothes, but I don't allow myself to often because my money could be better spent, and when I do spend money on clothes I feel guilty.

I'm hoping this will motivate me like the chocolate chips did for you, and it will do it without me having to eat sugar.

I have the piggy bank, now I just need a load of coins :D

Oh also I was thinking of using the smaller coins for the short time frames, e.g 5cents for 5 mins, and then go to the bigger coins as I move to longer times e.g. 50cents for 1 hour.

Edit: Another thing about the coins and the jar, is that it provides the audio and visual stimulation the "clink" of the money dropping each time and the sight of the cash growing.
 
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Tubs

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Can't wait to read part 4
 

Wolfman

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Hi Bekit and...,
This thread is good stuff. What much of it amounts to is forming good habits. There are experts (Charles Duhigg)who have scientific evidence of how/why this works. There is a 3 step process; trigger+behavior+reward.
Part of what causes many, myself included, to lapse is that bad habits are so ingrained in our cerebral cortex that those neural pathways are basically there to stay.
The good news is that these bad habits can be transformed into good ones. One caveat is that you have to believe that this process works.
The first week is really tough because we have to use a lot of will-power, something we have in finite quantities that can easily be depleted during the day.
It really comes down to a probability game that is quite logical. By creating good habits you don't need as much will-power. That increases the chances that you'll succeed because you'll have enough will power to get you through the tough times (they always come!)
Tune in again to find out how to get through the tough times...
(I'm offering a one time limited offer of $12 to get the long-awaited solution. j/k)
Wolfman
Wow, you guys are cheap! I didn't get one offer for the long-awaited solution on how to get through the tough times. So, now I'm forced to give it away for free.
First, you anticipate and schedule your lapses. If I'm abstaining from fatty food, I schedule a binge on chocolate iced cream in 3 days. This way you retain a measure of control and don't get discouraged.
Second, you develop a supportive network of dependable people. This forum could work if a number (6-8 preferably) could be induced to commit. I'll volunteer if anyone else likes the idea.
 

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being.simon

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Apr 1, 2019
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Wow, you guys are cheap! I didn't get one offer for the long-awaited solution on how to get through the tough times. So, now I'm forced to give it away for free.
First, you anticipate and schedule your lapses. If I'm abstaining from fatty food, I schedule a binge on chocolate iced cream in 3 days. This way you retain a measure of control and don't get discouraged.
Second, you develop a supportive network of dependable people. This forum could work if a number (6-8 preferably) could be induced to commit. I'll volunteer if anyone else likes the idea.
Haha, I intuitively do the same. I've gotten pretty in touch with how much growth I can handle and when my bad pathways will strike again (they always do, even with "coincidental" shit like sickness, accidents, that new show releasing...it's all subconscious manifestation) and I will allow a conscious, deliberate lapse for a day or two before completely burning out. Seems to work quite well. Today I even pulled myself back out wihtin half a day. Lapses used to take 3 days to a full week.
 
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OP
Bekit

Bekit

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The Long-Awaited Part 4 - Upgrading the Game

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, and thank you to everyone who has expressed thanks, support, and anticipation of the next step. It has been gratifying to learn that my experiments with myself have been helpful to other people.

(Side note: The fact that I haven't posted an update to this is actually an indication of how focused I have been lately, as the forum has been one of my "indulgences." #fulltransparency - High forum attendance for me has traditionally been strongly correlated with high work avoidance. Kind of sad on an entrepreneurial forum where we're all about keeping each other motivated to think big and do hard things. But this has turned around for me and gotten into a nice, sustainable balance, where interacting on the forum isn't robbing from higher-priority tasks.)

So back to where I left off...

I had worked for a week or two with my daily experiments. The chocolate chips, celebrations, and other components of the game were continuing to work.

External conditions continued to be bad. I was working with a very burned-out brain and a company dynamic where I was disengaging a little more every day.

But this was giving me a way to faithfully crank out work every day, even though I wouldn't have typically wanted to.

And it didn't feel like forcing myself to do anything.

No longer was I dragging myself to work, kicking and screaming, in the futile endeavor to actually DO anything.

Then came the challenge.

I took a trip where I had to accomplish the same amount of work, but in some very distracting conditions while I was on the road.

At home, I have an office environment that is basically perfect for focused work.

But on this trip, I had to work from a variety of noisy, unpredictable environments, such as airports, the back seat of a car, and various bedrooms belonging to my relatives, complete with many beguiling opportunities to get off track.

On top of that, I had very spotty internet along the way.

Ordinarily, this would have been something along the lines of, "I'm not going to get anything done anyway, so why bother?"

But in this case, I had a plan. The plan had been working up until this point. Would it continue to work with a change of environment?

Off I went. I told a few people about my "game" when it made sense, such as when I was riding in the back seat of my aunt & uncle's car for about 5 hours. (I didn't want them to be concerned that I was losing my mind when I celebrated every five minutes. They happily played along.)

And it was on that trip that I had the first taste of victory.

I was working and had missed a round or two of my game, due to various distractions. BUT I HAD CONTINUED WORKING.

And the biggest triumph was when I realized, "This feels rewarding!!"

Work alone, without any corresponding rewards and celebrations, had produced its own tiny little dose of happiness and intrinsic reward.

I felt like shouting.

YESSSSSS!!!!! THIS IS WORKING!!!

The neural pathway was getting built. I had tricked my brain into making work feel rewarding.

I had moved one step away from turning to my "vices" to reward myself (YouTube, surfing the web, etc), and I had moved one step closer to letting work build its own momentum because work itself had become rewarding.

A Chat With My Sister Leads To A Few Upgrades
Part of the trip involved a brief visit with my brilliant dog trainer sister.

I described my game to her in detail, and she listened with interest. Then she offered me a few pointers for where I could take it to an even greater level.
  • It's high time to stretch your focus beyond 5 minutes. This has become too easy now. You're starting to stagnate.
  • Extend the time between rewards, but don't just extend the time indefinitely into the future, because your brain will know that the rewards are receding into the distance. There is a risk that you will disengage from the game.
  • Instead, stretch yourself to 10 or 15 minutes, but then plan a return to the 5-minute (or even the 1-minute) reward schedule before stretching yourself again to 20 or 25 minutes.
  • Keep varying the frequency of your reward schedules on a sine-curve model. This will give your brain something to look forward to, because at the end of each long stretch, there will be another rapid-fire set of rewards.
  • Intentionally (and gradually) incorporate small distractions into your path. Reward yourself for ignoring them. This is kind of like a dog trainer who intentionally places treats along the path and trains (& rewards) the dog to ignore them.
  • For instance, if your phone is a problem, set up a scenario where you can practice ignoring your phone. Instead of putting your phone in another room where you can't see it, put it in your field of vision. Reward yourself for all the times you want to pick it up and you say no.
  • Be judicious. Set this up so that it is super-easy for you to be successful. Increase the difficulty gradually so that you are eventually ignoring all the multiple "triggers" that used to be your downfall.
  • Think though the "payday" of rewards you are giving yourself. Set up larger and smaller ones, depending on the size or importance of the accomplishment. You will work harder for a bigger payday. And you will feel more rewarded afterward, which reinforces the learning that is taking place.
  • My sister pointed out that by setting up my office to be a "perfect" environment for distraction-free work, what I actually did was train myself to tune into the very smallest trigger of all (my thoughts). You can never get away from your own thoughts. So a better approach is to train yourself to tune out bigger and bigger distractions so that you can handle almost any environment with focus.
All this blew my mind a little bit.

I started taking things to the next level.

Where I Am Today
Fast forward to today. Here are a few of the observations I'd make about myself now.
  • I no longer play this game because I no longer need to (but I would return to it in a heartbeat if needed).
  • My brain now thinks work is rewarding for its own sake. This started really small, 5 minutes and one chocolate chip at a time. But it worked.
  • I have recovered from the burnout that I was experiencing at the time I started this game.
  • I have started to actually work on projects that are valuable to move the needle, rather than doing whatever is the prominent whim or fancy of the moment.
  • The self-loathing, "What-is-wrong-with-me-and-why-am-I-so-dysfunctional" attitude has been replaced with confidence and optimism, now that I am not wasting so much time.
  • My pay has gone up by $1000/month, and I feel like I'm doing less work.
  • I feel more like I am cooperating with my brain than being a victim at its mercy.
  • I can work with or without caffeine. (That is a huge one.)
  • I'm having fun and enjoying work.
=============
THE END
=============
 
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Invictus

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The Long-Awaited Part 4 - Upgrading the Game

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, and thank you to everyone who has expressed thanks, support, and anticipation of the next step. It has been gratifying to learn that my experiments with myself have been helpful to other people.

(Side note: The fact that I haven't posted an update to this is actually an indication of how focused I have been lately, as the forum has been one of my "indulgences." #fulltransparency - High forum attendance for me has traditionally been strongly correlated with high work avoidance. Kind of sad on an entrepreneurial forum where we're all about keeping each other motivated to think big and do hard things. But this has turned around for me and gotten into a nice, sustainable balance, where interacting on the forum isn't robbing from higher-priority tasks.)

So back to where I left off...

I had worked for a week or two with my daily experiments. The chocolate chips, celebrations, and other components of the game were continuing to work.

External conditions continued to be bad. I was working with a very burned-out brain and a company dynamic where I was disengaging a little more every day.

But this was giving me a way to faithfully crank out work every day, even though I wouldn't have typically wanted to.

And it didn't feel like forcing myself to do anything.

No longer was I dragging myself to work, kicking and screaming, in the futile endeavor to actually DO anything.

Then came the challenge.

I took a trip where I had to accomplish the same amount of work, but in some very distracting conditions while I was on the road.

At home, I have an office environment that is basically perfect for focused work.

But on this trip, I had to work from a variety of noisy, unpredictable environments, such as airports, the back seat of a car, and various bedrooms belonging to my relatives, complete with many beguiling opportunities to get off track.

On top of that, I had very spotty internet along the way.

Ordinarily, this would have been something along the lines of, "I'm not going to get anything done anyway, so why bother?"

But in this case, I had a plan. The plan had been working up until this point. Would it continue to work with a change of environment?

Off I went. I told a few people about my "game" when it made sense, such as when I was riding in the back seat of my aunt & uncle's car for about 5 hours. (I didn't want them to be concerned that I was losing my mind when I celebrated every five minutes. They happily played along.)

And it was on that trip that I had the first taste of victory.

I was working and had missed a round or two of my game, due to various distractions. BUT I HAD CONTINUED WORKING.

And the biggest triumph was when I realized, "This feels rewarding!!"

Work alone, without any corresponding rewards and celebrations, had produced its own tiny little dose of happiness and intrinsic reward.

I felt like shouting.

YESSSSSS!!!!! THIS IS WORKING!!!

The neural pathway was getting built. I had tricked my brain into making work feel rewarding.

I had moved one step away from turning to my "vices" to reward myself (YouTube, surfing the web, etc), and I had moved one step closer to letting work build its own momentum because work itself had become rewarding.

A Chat With My Sister Leads To A Few Upgrades
Part of the trip involved a brief visit with my brilliant dog trainer sister.

I described my game to her in detail, and she listened with interest. Then she offered me a few pointers for where I could take it to an even greater level.
  • It's high time to stretch your focus beyond 5 minutes. This has become too easy now. You're starting to stagnate.
  • Extending the time between rewards, but don't just extend the time indefinitely into the future, because your brain will know that the rewards are receding into the distance. There is a risk that you will disengage from the game.
  • Instead, stretch yourself to 10 or 15 minutes, but then plan a return to the 5-minute (or even the 1-minute) reward schedule before stretching yourself again to 20 or 25 minutes.
  • Keep varying the frequency of your reward schedules on a sine-curve model. This will give your brain something to look forward to, because at the end of each long stretch, there will be another rapid-fire set of rewards.
  • Intentionally (and gradually) incorporate small distractions into your path. Reward yourself for ignoring them. This is kind of like a dog trainer who intentionally places treats along the path and trains (& rewards) the dog to ignore them.
  • For instance, if your phone is a problem, set up a scenario where you can practice ignoring your phone. Instead of putting your phone in another room where you can't see it, put it in your field of vision. Reward yourself for all the times you want to pick it up and you say no.
  • Be judicious. Set this up so that it is super-easy for you to be successful. Increase the difficulty gradually so that you are eventually ignoring all the multiple "triggers" that used to be your downfall.
  • Think though the "payday" of rewards you are giving yourself. Set up larger and smaller ones, depending on the size or importance of the accomplishment. You will work harder for a bigger payday. And you will feel more rewarded afterward, which reinforces the learning that is taking place.
  • My sister pointed out that by setting up my office to be a "perfect" environment for distraction-free work, what I actually did was train myself to tune into the very smallest trigger of all (my thoughts). You can never get away from your own thoughts. So a better approach is to train yourself to tune out bigger and bigger distractions so that you can handle almost any environment with focus.
All this blew my mind a little bit.

I started taking things to the next level.

Where I Am Today
Fast forward to today. Here are a few of the observations I'd make about myself now.
  • I no longer play this game because I no longer need to (but I would return to it in a heartbeat if needed).
  • My brain now thinks work is rewarding for its own sake. This started really small, 5 minutes and one chocolate chip at a time. But it worked.
  • I have recovered from the burnout that I was experiencing at the time I started this game.
  • I have started to actually work on projects that are valuable to move the needle, rather than doing whatever is the prominent whim or fancy of the moment.
  • The self-loathing, "What-is-wrong-with-me-and-why-am-I-so-dysfunctional" attitude has been replaced with confidence and optimism, now that I am not wasting so much time.
  • My pay has gone up by $1000/month, and I feel like I'm doing less work.
  • I feel more like I am cooperating with my brain than being a victim at its mercy.
  • I can work with or without caffeine. (That is a huge one.)
  • I'm having fun and enjoying work.
=============
THE END
=============
Beautiful. A worthy ending to this thread (perhaps a future Gold?).

I will recommend the book, Don't Shoot the Dog for anyone interested in wanting to adopt this type of training to their life. Psychology books are well and good for learning, but books like this are devoted specifically on how to get results.

A good dog trainer is a borderline superhero. Honestly, if more of them made the connection that their methods could be expanded beyond the canine world, they'd run the world.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to scavenge up some Doritos.
 

cjibjibson

New Contributor
Sep 14, 2019
3
9
11
Awesome, thank you!

A few questions:

  • How long did it take for you to start associating work as a reward without the treats?
  • It reads like you only ever did the 5-minute rewards before you stopped the game, is that correct? Or did you experiment with the 10-20minutes etc?
  • If you did change how long were you at each stage? e.g. 2 months 5-minute rewards, 3 weeks 10-minute rewards
  • When you were doing 5-minute rewards how often do you think you ended up continually working on average? like how long was a session in general, 1,2,3 hours? were you taking breaks?
  • Do you want a dog now? ;)
Thanks so much, this post has had a big positive impact on me, thank you
 

jukido

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Sep 13, 2019
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Great stuff!

You and your sis should write a book. All the mechanics are easier digest when framed via dog training. Taking something new and relating it to something known = better comprehension.
 
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Bekit

Bekit

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Aug 13, 2018
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Awesome, thank you!

A few questions:

  • How long did it take for you to start associating work as a reward without the treats?
  • It reads like you only ever did the 5-minute rewards before you stopped the game, is that correct? Or did you experiment with the 10-20minutes etc?
  • If you did change how long were you at each stage? e.g. 2 months 5-minute rewards, 3 weeks 10-minute rewards
  • When you were doing 5-minute rewards how often do you think you ended up continually working on average? like how long was a session in general, 1,2,3 hours? were you taking breaks?
  • Do you want a dog now? ;)
Thanks so much, this post has had a big positive impact on me, thank you
Glad you enjoyed this.
  • How long did it take for you to start associating work as a reward without the treats?
    • It was approximately 2 weeks after continuously practicing these rewards every 5 minutes for the entire workday that I had the first little nugget of "automatic" reward
    • It took several months to get to the point where I am at today. I started in April. It is now September. That's about 6 months overall.
  • It reads like you only ever did the 5-minute rewards before you stopped the game, is that correct? Or did you experiment with the 10-20minutes etc?
    • Sorry, I sort of glossed over the implementation of the upgrades to the game with the simple phrase, "I started taking things to the next level," and then I fast-forwarded to today. This was partly because I was afraid I would never finish this post if I tried to write too much detail, and partly because my implementation of the upgrades would look different from someone else's.
    • Once the inner brain-reward connection got fired up, I quickly worked back up to being able to do 25-30 minute session instead of 5 min, and I would practice either the standard pomodoro technique to keep myself on track, or do Sebastian Marshall's Work Cycles, which for me worked even better than Pomodoros.
  • If you did change how long were you at each stage? e.g. 2 months 5-minute rewards, 3 weeks 10-minute rewards
    • I sort of loosened up my implementation as I looked for different ways to implement my upgrades, so it's hard to say. I also changed jobs and had to adjust to a whole new set of tasks and work rhythms, so that muddied the waters a bit.
    • The most notable stage for me was the 5-minute reward stage. That was what got the ball rolling. It lasted around two weeks, maybe two and a half or three... This would have been back in April, and I didn't take detailed records, so I am just going by my memory.
    • I would not say I have made uninterrupted progress from the time I started until now. It has been more of an up-and-down roller coaster ride, but with an overall trend of progress, despite the dips.
  • When you were doing 5-minute rewards how often do you think you ended up continually working on average? like how long was a session in general, 1,2,3 hours? were you taking breaks?
    • That's a good question. When I started, my stamina for work was basically nonexistent, so even 5 minutes was a real victory. But I would say that once I got started, I would do 2-4 hours in a row of continuous 5-minute sessions, followed by a break and then another multiple-hour session. Again, this was back in April, so I'm just trying to recreate from memory what my sessions looked like. At that time, I was (a) very burned out, so a lot of things are a blur, and (b) very chaotic in my work habits, where some days I would work from 6 AM to 2AM, some days I would work from 4 PM to midnight, some days I would work from 5AM to 8AM and then take a break and not get back into "work mode" until the afternoon, etc.
  • Do you want a dog now?
    • Haha nope :)

You and your sis should write a book. All the mechanics are easier digest when framed via dog training. Taking something new and relating it to something known = better comprehension.
That's a great idea!
 

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