Little, unpredictable rewards can turn a dreary, dreaded task into something you actually look forward to. "Softwarepreneur" Assaf Lavie writes on his superbly named Super Fun Time Happy Blog how he's hacked his brain to enjoy washing the dishes — something he used to postpone as much as possible. The secret: Podcasts.
More importantly, there are two parts to this strategy. First, he listens to podcasts only when washing the dishes, so the positive association is stronger. Second, not every podcast episode is entertaining or rewarding, so the positive reinforcement is more random:
I hate doing household chores. It's boring, time-consuming and often yucky. I, too, enjoy movies, but I can't very well watch a movie whiledoing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom. But podcasts, I've found, are a perfect source of random positive reinforcement. Crucially, you can listen to them while doing basically any household chore. Even more importantly, I only listen to podcasts while doing chores. Them's the rules.
I enjoy listening to This American Life, Hollywood Babble-On andFreakonomics Radio. Not every episode is amazing. Not every Kevin Smith dick joke is hilarious. But every now and then I hit a jackpot and find myself either giggling like an idiot while cleaning the kitchen, or so enthralled by an interview that I simply don't want to stop doing chores.
As Lavie points out, studies have shown random rewards are more effective than constant ones (and this might also explain why we dig through endless, boring Reddit and Facebook posts until we find that golden nugget to share).
Anything that's randomly rewarding (like the radio) could also work to turn your procrastination around.
Self-hack: enjoying doing the dishes [Super Fun Time Happy Blog]
Picture: Martin Cathrae/Flickr