Carrots or Sticks With Deb Eleanor

Eleanor BrownI’m a big fan of lists of all kinds. When I am writing, I keep a list of ideas and scenes or even phrases or sentences I want to use at the bottom of the Word document I am writing in, and when I’m stuck, I drop down to the bottom and root around until I find something good.

For daily life and errands, I’m all about the to-do list. I take such satisfaction in crossing things off that I have been known to put things on the list I have already done, just so I can cross them off.

But, like most people, I also have a tendency to procrastinate, and sometimes I need a little more satisfaction than crossing something off a list.

I’m a carrot person, so I like to reward myself for doing things. I’ve probably mentioned before that The Weird Sisters was powered by Dairy Queen – when I finished a chapter, J.C. would take me out for ice cream (I highly recommend this if you are trying to increase the size of your manuscript and the size of your behind at the same time). Going to the gym when I’m really not feeling like it can earn me a new song from iTunes. I might promise myself that if I only clean out my email inbox, I can spend a half-hour or so playing a video game.

Speaking of video games, my friend Amanda uses an iPhone app called Epic Win that is like a to-do list and video game combined – you can earn points by doing tasks. The more odious the task, the more points you get.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a reward that’s motivating enough for something I don’t really want to do, but I’ve never really tried to punish myself, either.

What about you? Are you a carrot (reward) or stick (punishment) person? And what are your favorite rewards for a job well-done (or at least done!).

17 Replies to “Carrots or Sticks With Deb Eleanor”

  1. Oooh good question. And hard to answer. I like a good carrot as much as the next gal, (peppermint stick with hot fudge please. In New England we get peppermint stick year round, not just as Christmas.) But I love my little cyber-sticky note on my computer. I put my to do lists on the sticky note and delete as completed. I also use TASKS in Outlook – I flag everything. That’s more of a list of posts for Age of Autism so I can keep submissions in order.

    The computer/smart phone should have me far more organized and able to tackle lists than I am. Yesterday Howard Stern was ranting at his producer Gary “Bababooey” Dell’Abate about the wad of sticky notes he carries around versus his own OCD-like obsession with organized lists. I’m more Gary than Howard.

    Somehow, my posts appear when they are supposed to and my kids get picked up on time and the lights remain on….

    1. Peppermint stick ice cream with hot fudge is definitely an excellent carrot. I think most of us eventually come up with an organizational system that works for us, or a combination of them. For some people, a wad of sticky notes is exactly what they need. As long as it gets done in the end, it’s all good!

  2. Looove lists! My problem is almost too many that I forget which notebook or moleskine I use for what-( any help here would be greatly appreciated) I lean more to the carrot ( magnum bars and DQ) but do use a fair amount of sticky notes. Want that App for my touch! 🙂 great post!

      1. My Dad survived dental school by taking his notes in class, then coming home and re-writing all of them in colored ink – he used a systems of what he thought would be tested – and chose the colors accordingly. He is meticulous at keeping records. I did not inherit his skill.

    1. Oh, that is a good feeling, especially when it’s something that’s been hanging over your head for a long time!

  3. Tell me more about this Epic Win thing… I have to look it up. You put in your tasks and rank them, and they give you points? You can procrastinate by playing and get things accomplished at the same time? This is GENIUS!!!!

  4. When I read that you’re a carrot person, I was hoping you’d divulge your love of carrot cake (which I happen to be craving right now!). 🙂

  5. WARNING! I clicked on the “J.C.Hutchins” link and a VIRUS started up. This virus pretends to be the Microsoft antivirus system, and says that one has 7 viruses and 8 Trojans and 10 worms on one’s PC, and asks that one clicks on OK to remove – which then will presumably INSTALL the actual virus onto your computer. So I switched off my internet connection, then switched it back on again and through Google typed in “JC Hutchins” and got the same website which instantly disappeared from the screen and instead I had all that same virus rigmarole on my PC.
    So your husband J.C. Hutchins has some enemies who don’t want his presence on the internet.


    1. Hi, Melanie! This seems to be an occasional issue on both of our sites for people using certain versions of Internet Explorer, and we’re looking into it.

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