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Focus Your Time and Reward Your Accomplishments (Especially the Small Ones)

One, ten, 50, and twenty dollar bills rolled up
Thank you NikolayF and Pixabay for allowing me to use this image.

“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.

teacher with stack of papers to check.
Thank you Piypong Saydaung and Pixabay for allowing me to use this image.

…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.

Answer sheet for test with circle choices to color in with number 2 pencil
Thank you Lecroitg and Pixabay for letting me use this image of an answer sheet for a test.

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.

Ideas:
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.
Writing
Drawing
Organizing
Filling out job applications
Laundry
Dishes
Reading a book
Taxes

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. “

Reward Possibilities:
Pay yourself.
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.

Resources:

1. “155 Ways to Reward Yourself for Reaching Your Goals:” https://www.developgoodhabits.com/reward-yourself/

2. “Focus To-Do:”
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/focus-to-do-focus-timer-tasks/id966057213?platform=iphone 

3. Justin Pot. “Best Apps for Focusing on Work:”  https://beebom.com/best-apps-for-focusing-on-work/

4.Wikipedia. “Pomodoro Technique:”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

5. “Windows Clock:” https://apps.microsoft.com/store/detail/windows-clock/9WZDNCRFJ3PR

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author

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