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How to use Incentives to get things done?

This post is not about how to get things done by others, but by yourself. I want to emphasize the use of incentives to motivate ourselves to do a task. We all need motivation to do any task, and more so if the task is repetitive or boring. Setting incentives for myself for any task, big or small, is something I have used all my life, and to good use.

Set milestones in your task
If you have a long boring task, break it up into smaller tasks and set milestones at regular period of time. I normally break up my tasks in a way that no two milestones lie more than 3-4 days apart. This helps me keep focus on the task at hand while the overall objective of the longer task is also not forgotten. Overcoming these milestones give you a sense of achievement and keeps you going. So the next time you have a task which might take 20 days, break it up into six or seven subtasks, set milestones, and get going, one milestone after next. It is easy to procrastinate or miss a few days in a 20 day task, but very difficult for a 3-4 day one.

Treat yourself after every milestone
Whenever a milestone is reached, treat yourself with something. It could be as simple as having an ice-cream or going to eat in your favorite restaurant which you won’t go normally. These small treats are the things which you might do normally too every once in a while, but tying them to a milestone gives you a sense of achievement and adds more meaning to it.

Don’t give yourself what you want, tie it to a result
During childhood, everything we two brothers demanded was never given to us directly, our parents always used to attach it to a result, most of the times academic results. If it was something small, the result could be as simple as doing your homework, or if it was something big, it could be tied to a good score in exams. I distinctly remember once when I wanted a cricket kit and that was tied to standing among the top three candidates in the final exams.

If you don’t achieve the result you wanted but worked hard, treat yourself anyway
Now when you set yourself some targets / milestones to achieve, sometimes you will achieve the results and sometimes you will not. That is very natural. But if I am sure I have given enough effort to the task, I go ahead and treat myself anyway 🙂 After all, the objective is to add some fun and motivation in doing of a task and not to discourage or demotivate.

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