So, recent changes in the structure of my life made my previous system of goal setting totally unworkable. The whole deadline thing was nice when I didn’t have a job taking up a good part of my life, but once it combined with the stress from work all it did was shut me down completely by putting too much pressure on me at once. Each time a deadline would fall through I would feel awful about it, and it kept happening all the time. Finally the deadlines stopped having any meaning because so many of them were just impossible to meet as my work schedule grew more demanding. I needed a new system that still rewarded me for doing thing I should be doing, while not pushing me to the breaking point quite as frequently as before.
Of course, the solution I cooked up was quite possibly the nerdiest system ever. I decided that I would break up the tasks that I had each week into two categories, one labeled priorities and the other labeled as extra credit. For each extra credit task I accomplished, I would give myself one point. For each priority task I did not accomplish by the end of the week, I would subtract twice the number of points. Priority tasks would be things like going to work, doing exercise, writing and the like, mainly just things I absolutely needed to get done. Extra credit would be things like cleaning the dishes, reaching a certain point in the story, and so on. Church tasks I made three times the normal amount of points, while writing and work related tasks were only worth two times the points.
As the points added up, I could use them to buy certain things. For example, ten points gets me a book, while five gets me a new iTunes song. My new laptop actually cost one hundred points. I’m going to make it so that once I play video games again, each time I play will cost me points as well. That way, I have encouragement to keep gaining points, since they get traded for something of value, even to my lazy side.
Unfortunately, I’ve encountered an unintended side effect. I’m a video game nerd, the kind who loves RPGs because you can gain points in them which can then be used to advance. Sound familiar? Points are like crack to me. I’ve started point hoarding already. One day I’m sure that I will curl up in some corner clutching a tally of my earned points and muttering ‘my precious’ to myself. It’s not a good situation.
Then again, if it helps me stay motivated and on track, I guess it couldn’t hurt. Right? Sigh. The things we do for productivity…