“Focus Your Time and Reward Your Accomplishments (Especially the Small Ones)” by Joan Y. Edwards
In the winter of my 30th year of teaching (1993), I got extremely tired of checking papers ( math, science, English, social studies, spelling, handwriting, etc. ) I thought to myself, “I’ll pay someone to check papers for me. I’ll pay them $3.00 an hour. I want to help someone who needs money. I thought for a moment. Who do I know that needs money? Count to 10.
…Ah! Yes! Me, I need money.
So I decided to pay myself $3.00 an hour for checking papers. I put the money in a special fund that I used to to treat myself to dinner, a movie, or to buy a new outfit that made me smile.
Guess what! It worked. It helped make checking papers more fun for me. It helped inspire me to go for it. To go ahead and check the papers.
That summer I decided I would get a job working with Kelly Temporary Services as a receptionist – answering phones and greeting people. That way I wouldn’t have to check papers.
Enter the irony of it all.
My job was with Piedmont Airlines when they merged with US Airways. I was working for Piedmont Airlines. They trained the Airline Stewardesses for the combined way of taking care of passengers. My job was ordering a cake to celebrate at the end of the week after the stewardesses took their tests. Yes you heard me. TESTS. Does that ring a bell? Guess whose job it was to check the tests for them? You are right. Ironically, it was my job to check the tests. One thing about it. It was only one test a week. I also had an answer grid that I could put over the answers and see if they were right.
I hope this made you laugh. I had to laugh. I had played a trick on myself.
That summer I also looked for a change in my teaching. I had to teach 5 more years. My principal asked me if I’d like to teach kindergarten. AH! Not many papers to check. I checked their work as they did it. There were more oral tests than written tests. I was a happy camper!
Now to the near present time. Since my late husband, Carl, died in 2020, I busied myself organizing pictures, taking care of estate stuff with his daughter, Susan, writing, and then my world seemed to crumble, I lost interest in doing things I used to enjoy doing.
I figured out a few weeks ago that perhaps one reason I’d lost interest was that after I wrote a blog post or I wrote a chapter in a story, I would tell Carl about it. Share parts with him. Not only was I missing the interaction with him, but COVID has all of us isolated from our usual gatherings with other people. In January a close cousin died. That set me back. I ventured forth in July to be with family and then bingo, I got Covid myself and it was BAAAADDD. But on the good side. I am alive. I was reborn. Thank you, God.
So now I’ve been searching through trying to help myself get enthusiastic about my writing and my drawing again. I did research on what helps us achieve our goals and dreams and wrote a post about it. Then I thought. Ah! Paying myself for checking papers worked, why not pay myself when I write and also, when I do artwork.
I decided to pay myself $1.00 an hour for writing. $2.00 an hour for drawing. I got 50 one dollar bills at the bank. I put it in an envelope. For each hour I work, I add the money into a tall clear glass vase beside my computer. I will use the money to treat myself to dinner, go to the movies, or buy a new outfit. Something that makes me smile.
The day before I started this post, I opened my list of software on my main computer, In the software choices, I saw a clock face. I had never noticed it before. I clicked on it. Oh my goodness. How awesome! What a pleasant surprise!
It was a Windows Clock focus app based on the Pomodoro method. I always thought a Pomodoro was a hair do. However, it is a set amount of time to work with a short break in between. This app also has a section where you can put a list of things you wish to accomplish.
You can set the timer for as many minutes as you want up to an hour. A timer will ring and let you know when you’ve finished your allotted time you set for your task. You can choose breaks in between or no breaks.
This app also adds Spotify music while you work. I found that if I put the music on low, it didn’t disrupt my thought processes and I actually enjoyed it as I worked.
Now you ask me, what is your point, Joan.
Set your FOCUS TIME. Set aside a certain time (15, 25, 60 minutes at a time) to work on something you want to accomplish. If music helps, play it softly. Don’t answer phone, texts, or emails during this FOCUS time.
Wear a special hat during FOCUS time.
Wear a special vest during FOCUS time.
Put a FOCUS TIME sign on your door during FOCUS time.
Use FOCUS TIME to spend doing things you might be neglecting or putting off.
Exercise: walking, jogging, etc.
Filling out job applications
Reading a book
Reward yourself for doing that. Reward has to be within your power to do by yourself. This reward doesn’t come to you from someone else. It’s important to celebrate and reward yourself for each step you take…even the smallest step. Each step gets you closer to your goal. Each time you reward yourself, you are saying, “I matter. What I do matters to me. I am important. “
Call a friend.
Watch a movie.
Go to the movie theatre.
Wear a smile sticker.
Get a pecan sticky bun.
Have hot chocolate and toast with butter. Dip the toast into the hot chocolate.
Good luck! Please feel free to ask questions or share what has worked for you when YOU want to do something, but you seem to lack the spark within you to get it done.
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8 thoughts on “Focus Your Time and Reward Your Accomplishments (Especially the Small Ones)”
I love your story about paying yourself to grade papers and then having to grade papers in a job you took outside the school system. Too funny!
I waitressed some as a part-time job while working a full-time job elsewhere. People used to ask me how I did it. My response, “I just tell myself I’m getting paid to exercise.” Always brought a smile or laugh. But in reality, it worked.
I am glad the focus app you found is helping you. Anytime, you need to talk to someone after completing a project, please call and I’ll do my best to give you a virtual pat on the back. Thanks for sharing all these tips and stories.
Thanks for writing. I’m glad you enjoyed my stories about paying myself and then having to check papers for a summer job. Glad it made you laugh.
You have a great attitude about life. Telling people you were getting paid to exercise when you had 2 jobs was awesome.
You are welcome for the ideas I shared. Thanks for being happy that I found the Windows Clock app to help me focus and reward myself for completing my writing and drawing for each hour. Thanks for offering to listen when I finish a project. You are a great friend.
Never Give Up
I’m just back from a 4-mile walk. I walk every day. Sometimes longer than that, sometimes shorter. I try for 5 miles daily, but that isn’t always possible.
My reward is that I’m getting in shape, losing weight and prolonging the time before I’ll have to replace my other hip.
Thank you for writing Thank you for sharing your walking goals. You are rewarding yourself for walking in great ways! I am very proud of you and happy for you.
Never Give Up
JOan, I didn’t know you were a teacher all those years! Think of all the lives you touched with your smile and sense of humor! And I love that you rewarded yourself and are doing it again. Great idea. I usually reward myself with exercise and getting outdoors. And chocolate!!
Thank you for writing. Yes I taught 35 years in the elementary schools…4 yrs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and 31 years in Union County. You are sweet to say that I influenced a lot of children’s lives with my sense of humor and my smile.. I am glad you reward yourself for accomplishing different things I think it works.
Never Give Up
I enjoyed reading your post. It is good to
have a toolkit of various things to use to
motivate us to accomplish our goals. We were at Highlights together and I’m self-publishing my first children’s picture book. Reading your blog is a great motivator for me. Hope you are well. Mary
Wow! It is so good to hear from you! Highlights conference was fun. Thank you for writing. I am glad that you enjoyed reading my blog. I am glad that reading my blog is a great motivator for you! Wonderful news. Have you subscribed? You get free gifts. I am proud of you for self-publishing your children’s book. Awesome.
Never Give Up