Keeping Score

I have posted previously on getting tasks done by doing them first, which – in spite of the joy of cats – still works for me. However, it might not work for the specific set of tasks and time pressures other people face. Miss Miry Mosey posted recently about her use of a game to motivate herself to write (and do other things). Having been the recipient of many merit stamps at school, I am fully aware that the mere possibility of incrementing a number can sometimes be enough. If it is not, then you can make the game can be made more complex.

An obvious adaptation is to record your daily or weekly scores. As anyone who has developed into the habit of looking at the WordPress Stats page will attest, days or weeks where the number of page views drops are not pleasant; if the drop is due not to the fickleness of your public but your own actions it will feel worse. For extra motivation, you could even borrow from the Seinfeld Technique and track your daily scores on a large calendar over your workstation (or on your fridge, or anywhere else you will always see the days you fell behind).

Alternatively if you want to use some time for pleasure and relaxation before all your tasks are done without feeling guilty, you can give negative points to some actions (such as watching television). So I might decide to grant myself 10 points whenever I work on a novel for an hour and deduct 5 points for each hour I spend playing computer games, so I can spend the morning playing a game if I choose but only if I am prepared to spend a chunk of the afternoon writing.

Swedish Almanac
For added fun you could vary scores based on whether they align or oppose the horoscope of the day.
(Public Domain)

Of course some tasks are worthy but only in moderation, or only if not used as an excuse not to do something else more worthy. These can be dealt with by adding scaled or zero point actions. For example, a good way to develop your writing is to read as much as possible so I might decide to give reading (which I enjoy) a zero score instead of a negative score; if I found I was reading instead of writing I might re-score it as 5 points for the first hour, -5 points per hour if I did not complete 3 positive tasks. For a task I might avoid even with a high points value (such as cleaning under/behind heavy furniture) halving the score of all routine tasks until it is completed will make doing other worthy tasks instead less attractive. Obviously the scoring system must be kept simple enough that managing your totals is not worth points in and of itself.

Do you prefer to get everything done before you relax for the day? Do you compare yourself to past performance, or prefer to only consider what needs to be done now?

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