how to use distractions as rewards

How To Use Distractions as Rewards

Think about this for a minute: why is it when you have something truly big and important to do, that’s the time when procrastination strikes the hardest?

That’s because your brain has the tendency to avoid pain and run towards pleasure. And with instant pleasure at the tip of your thumb (no thanks to your smartphone), it’s become that much harder to tackle the truly hard work when you need to.

One way to hijack this process and get back to being productive is to use your distractions as rewards.

Using Distractions As Rewards To Boost Productivity

The basic thought here is to use something you already enjoy doing, like browsing Instagram or hanging out on Reddit, and make it an incentive for getting some work done. It’s not that you’re abandoning your guilty pleasures, you’re just delaying them and taking charge.

And that’s the key here: take control over your distractions, instead of the other way around. Soon, your distractions will stop bugging you while you work and motivate you instead. It’s a minor change in mindset but it does put you back in charge, where you belong.

Two Strategies For Using Distractions As Rewards

  1. The Pomodoro Technique.

    This technique teaches you to work for a stretch of time then take short breaks afterwards. In this case, your Pomodoro breaks are the times when you handle your distractions. This stops the distractions from nagging your brain, since you’ll be taking care of them every half hour or so anyway.
  2. Set Small Goals With Rewards
    The other way is to cater to your distractions after you’ve achieved a small goal. If you enjoy that particular distraction, it’ll help spur you towards finishing your work.

Bonus Tips For Making Distractions Productive

  • Add a limit to your distraction rewards. To maintain their effectiveness as rewards, you don’t want to overindulge in your distractions. Set a time limit or stop doing them after a couple of rounds.
  • Share this technique with people. By telling your colleagues, friends, and maybe even your boss, you set yourself up to be accountable to someone. You don’t want them to check up on you and see that you’re still distracted, right?
  • When distracted, write the distraction down. A list is a powerful tool for keeping distractions at bay. It removes the cognitive load of the activity now so you can handle it later. You can also use this list to decide which of your distractions you can use as rewards.

What you need to do now is to start taking control of your distractions. Use them as rewards for work done and they’ll stop being productivity blockers and instead start becoming productivity boosters.

Want to overcome distractions once and for all? Here’s how to practice mindfulness at work.