If you’re a regular reader of Hack Your Commute, you’ll know that most of our hacks involve enhancing your productivity, effectiveness or outlook on working life. Most of them, in other words, involve a bit of effort – squeezing extra achievements out of time you might otherwise waste.
However, we should also acknowledge that balancing work and home life doesn’t just leave you limited time for self-improvement, but also for doing things that are simply enjoyable or relaxing. And sometimes, rewards like these are a necessary incentive for getting through the tough tasks that progress you towards your personal and professional goals.
So if you’re regularly spending time during your commute on enriching and productive pursuits, it may help your chances of sticking to them if you allow yourself to do something you like once you’ve reached certain targets. And rather than waiting to reach a big milestone before giving yourself a substantial pay-off, research shows more immediate rewards can be more motivating.
Research published earlier this year by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach of Cornell University found that offering an immediate reward for a task created greater engagement and intrinsic motivation to complete it, compared with a delayed reward or none at all, because it created a “perceptual fusion” between the two.
Therefore, it’s best to build in a reward as soon as you’ve reached the target you set yourself. If you spend four days of commutes learning a language, for example, don’t try to keep it up for a fifth day in a row but instead reward your diligence by reading a book, watching a downloaded TV episode or playing a mobile game that spares you any mental effort.
Alternatively, if you have a 40-minute commute, you could spend the first 30 on your chosen task and the last 10 on something fun.