Procrastination Plus – The Power of Rewards

What do a ‘good enough girl,’ dread and perfectionism have in common? They were all topics for discussion on this weeks Your Life, Unlimited radio show. Not only that but Executive Coach Dianne McCoy put yours truly on the spot and then I put her on one too – what fun!

Enjoy the whole show and the guest blog post by Rita Emmett Author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook.


So often, when I’m presenting a Keynote at a conference or leading a training seminar, people ask “How do I motivate myself to do something I hate to do?”

The answer is: You don’t.

Oh sure, there are tips that help. Play upbeat music while you clutter bust your place. Chat on the phone while stuffing marketing material into envelopes or loading the dishwasher. But those just help to ease the boredom or pain, they don’t actually motivate you to do the dreaded task.

So here’s the secret.

Come up with a reward that means A WHOLE LOT to you, and THAT becomes your motivation. For example, I start off each day getting the worst — the most disliked — job out of the way. It might be paperwork or making a dreaded phone call or writing a proposal.

Here’s my reward system: I have one coffee before I get to my desk. BUT that second cup is my reward, and I don’t get it till I complete whatever that first task is. I might NEVER be motivated to do that paper work or make that call, but you have to know that second cup motivates me to get almost any job done.

My friend Georgia treats herself to a long distance call to her best friend as soon as she hits her goal in cleaning the house. Georgia says she may never WANT to clean her house, but she WANTS so badly to talk to her friend that the thought of that call gets her to accomplish anything.

Bob, a salesman who travels, used to procrastinate about his expense reports each week because he simply did not like paperwork. Now his goal is to turn in that report before the end of each Friday and if he does NOT complete it, then he does not allow himself to watch TV that night. Absolutely none. Doesn’t even let himself turn on the news. Bob says that this reward system has taught him self-discipline.

When he began, he didn’t think there was ANYTHING that would get him to stop his procrastination. Then he decided to try the reward system. At first, Bob didn’t allow himself to have dessert when he failed to hand in his report. BUT when he DID complete the task, he treated himself to a special hot fudge sundae.

His organizational skills increased and his cash flow increased and sadly, so did his weight. Then he started thinking of what he called “his self-discipline muscle”. Just like working out at a gym, you might start off feeling weak, but the more you work at it, the stronger you become. And he knew the more he used a reward, the more disciplined he would become. So he simply changed his reward to TV.

He feels that now he might not need the reward system anymore because organizing his receipts and handing in his expense report has become a habit, but he is not willing to risk sliding back into his old procrastinating ways.

Bob says, “I don’t think I will ever be able to motivate myself to WANT to do paperwork. So I really need a reward that I want so badly, I will do any hated task. And relaxing in front of the TV at the end of a week works for me, it is something I really want to do, and I hate it if I don’t allow myself to because I didn’t reach my goal.”

What works for you? Right now, pick out something you’ve been putting off and think of a reward that you want badly enough that you will force yourself to do your goal. If one reward doesn’t work, try another.

Right now, start the habit of selecting a reward that means SO much to you that it actually motivates you to do those things you would never be motivated to do.

To subscribe to Rita’s Tip Sheet, go to, click on box near bottom of first page. 

And don’t procrastinate about it!


Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, and the recipient of the 2014 Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur Award for Contributions to Community. Stephanie empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at

* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.


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