As a kid, I used to do that thing where if I could hold my breath for exactly 15 seconds before I reached the kitchen then I'd allow myself one scoop of peanut butter with honey and M&Ms or something equally delicious and random. You can argue the merits of holding your breath, but for me it was about the pain and pleasure. Work and reward.
By the time I hit high school, I did the same thing with homework. If I could memorize three pages of notes from AP Bio then I could watch a half hour of TV, preferably Fresh Prince. The same went for Spanish homework and talking on the phone with my friend Teresa about whether or not I needed a boyfriend (I did).
In my stranger moments, I'd refuse to talk to my mom (which I love to do by the by) until my room was clean or wouldn't read a chapter of my favorite book at the time (Alex Haley's "Roots") unless I had washed my face.
The catch of my metaphorical carrots was to make sure I stuck to my own bargain. It'd still be cheating even if no one knew I was silently negotiating with myself on the regs.
I thought it was weird and, most of all, special to me until I realized that practically everyone I knew did some version of the same throughout the day. Whether it's finishing up the TPS reports before you can browse pictures of someone's baby on Facebook or not Gchatting about last night until you've answered some asinine question from your boss about this morning. It's the only way to get something done in a world where there are a zillion things you could be doing.
Because I'm a freelance freedom fighter I spend most of my day in my house -- alone. And most days that's way less depressing than it sounds. Anyway, my "carrots" haven't changed much from the days when I denied myself a Starbucks break until I called two sources and transcribed as many interviews.
Right now I've got the latest episode of "Grimm" on pause until I finish this thought. Next I'll need to send off two pitches before I write a blurb for my friend's book. For me it's a necessary game. Otherwise I'd be perusing Overstock.com for the next hour (okay three) without doing any of the real work that'll actually allow me to totally virtually redecorate my guest room. After I hit "save," I get to harass my dog for a few minutes, watch "Grimm" and then get back to it.
I want to feel less alone in this, guys. Tell me all the weird stuff you like to reward yourself with throughout the day and maybe I can add it to my list of fringe benefits.