"Slightly rewarded (slightly punished)" on Seth Godin's blog. He points out that many bad habits hurt us in such small increments that we don't notice their deleterious effects until a lot of time has passed. By then, it's harder to kick the habit and too late to recover whatever it's cost you. He writes, "One way to change behavior is to keep track of how often these little events occur, because seeing them lined up on the windowsill might be enough to change your mind."
I have a bad habit of playing video games on my iPod when I should be doing other things. I've tried many times to break this habit, but I've never been successful. Seth's article gave me an idea for how to quit.
Starting yesterday, every time I procrastinate by playing games I charge myself a penny a minute. Not much money, I know, but the kicker is what I have to do with the money I'm fining myself. I'm going to make myself donate it to Karl Rove's Super-PAC. Frankly, I would feel better flushing the money down the toilet than giving it to people who are just going to waste it on nasty political ads. And that's what has kept me from picking up the iPad several times in the last couple of days. I think to myself, "If I play Peggle, I have to give more money to Karl Rove." For me, that's quite a deterrent.
So far, I've only fined myself 30 cents. I'm hoping to keep it under a dollar by the end of October.