In Self Help for Dummies I threatened to serialize the outline of this book. Here is the draft of chapter 6.
Chapter 6 – Carrot or Stick?
In the last instalment, we learnt the power of the fake gun, and matching problems to achieve multiple goals. Today we ask the age-old question, “carrot or stick?”
Let’s re-word this and say, reward or punishment. There are three factors that determine the strategy that should be used, namely;
- The person.
- The task.
- The circumstances.
Also, don’t forget that a mix of carrot and stick is also sometimes a solution.
Let’s take our procrastination problem. The grass needs to be mowed. On Friday after work, the sun is down already. On Saturday morning I need to pop into the office. On Saturday afternoon, its rugby. Sunday morning is sleep-in time, and mowing the lawn on Sunday afternoon is un-neighbourly. So the lawn doesn’t get mowed.
Let’s get back to our lists and rework this problem. Set out below is the “excuse” followed by a carrot and a stick. This is a multiple choice question and you have to pick one answer. If you leave yourself no option, you will choose one and complete the task.
Too dark – the carrot is, “the beer will taste even better afterwards.“The stick is, “OK, then do a chore indoors, how about fixing the bedroom cupboard?“
Pop into the office – the carrot is, “imagine how much petrol you will save by staying home and mowing the lawn.” The stick is, “if you carry on frequenting those porno sites on a Saturday morning at work, you are going to get fired.”
Rugby – sorry, I can’t think of anything more important than rugby. Do not miss it.
Sleep-in time – the carrot is, “imagine how great the lawn will look on Sunday, if you get up early and mow it.” The stick is, “you flat slob, get out of bed and mow the lawn.“
Un-neighbourly – the carrot is, “now you can get back at him for his yapping dog.” The stick is, “if you are so worried about being un-neighbourly, why don’t you offer to mow his lawn at the same time.”
The secret here is to make this list before the weekend, with all of your excuses neatly listed. Then choose the least inconvenient, and do it.
If, on the other hand, you get to the end of the weekend and make the list of excuses, you cannot go back in time and choose the least inconvenient.
Use time as your friend and once you realise that by practising your procrastination before the fact, you will achieve more. Your bad habit can remain, but by changing the timing of your decisions, improvements are made.