It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I could not manage to get the group of children to tidy up the toys.
We were at our regular play group session. The children had had a great time playing with blocks, the water trolley and the tricycles but it was just about time to go home. Everyone needed to pitch in so that the hall could be used for the next group who had hired it.
Then, an inspired mother turned packing up into a game.
She challenged the children to see who could be the fastest to get the job done. There was no physical reward. None was needed. She just said there would be a competition to see who would finish first. Well, did those children get a move on? You bet they did.
And you can bet that I stole that idea from her many times after that day. Simple but effective.
Some call this the Mary Poppins principle.
In Mary Poppins, the tidying up was turned into a game and the medicine was chased down by a spoonful of sugar. The unpleasant task was tied together with a pleasant one in order to encourage the children to do what was wanted of them.
I recently heard this referred to as ‘temptation bundling’.
Temptation bundling is the tying of an unpleasant activity that we ‘should do’ to a pleasant one we ‘want to do’.
We can use this to our advantage in any number of ways.
- It might be that we only allow ourselves to watch television if we are doing the ironing.
- Perhaps we can only listen to our favourite podcast if we are cleaning the house.
- We might get to listen to an audiobook while out for a walk.
The trick is to tie the rewarding task to the one we are most likely to avoid. The options are endless based upon your interests and the activities you are avoiding the most.
There are many ways we can motivate ourselves to do something we don’t particularly want to do.
Recently I created a decluttering game that allows you to start out small, build momentum as the month goes on and have a sense of achievement at the end.
It is particularly rewarding for those who like to track their habits in the form of a streak.
A number of games and apps employ this to encourage the player to come back and play each day. The challenge is to record the longest unbroken streak. Missing a day will make the record reset and this is often enough to encourage consistent play.
My decluttering game goes like this…
- On day 1 of the game (this can be any day, not the beginning of the year or month) one item is decluttered and one check mark is recorded on the game sheet.
- On day 2 of the game, two items are decluttered and two check marks are recorded on the scoring sheet.
- Each day, an extra item of decluttering is required and is marked off on the sheet.
- On the last day, 30 items need to be decluttered and checked off on the sheet.
By the end of 30 days, you will have developed a decluttering habit and decluttered 465 items, a fantastic achievement!
Finding the fun in a task can be difficult but is something I am trying hard to do. My favourite at the moment is listening to upbeat music while I clean the house.
What will you do to make your work into a game?