Mastering Productivity: Using Strategic Scheduling and Reward Systems

Feranmi Olaseinde

Hatched by Feranmi Olaseinde

Oct 12, 2023

4 min read


Mastering Productivity: Using Strategic Scheduling and Reward Systems


Studying or working with a full-time job can often be challenging, as it requires effective time management and motivation. However, by incorporating strategic scheduling and reward systems into our daily routines, we can enhance our productivity and make the work itself more interesting. In this article, we will explore the concept of fixed interval rewards, fixed ratio rewards, variable interval rewards, and variable ratio rewards. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of auditing our work and reward tasks, and how to leverage these strategies to optimize our productivity.

Understanding the Power of Rewards:

Rewards play a significant role in motivating us to complete tasks and maintain consistency. Just as addiction psychology suggests, having a clear hard start and hard stop for an action can make the work more appealing. The key lies in knowing when the hard end of a task is and what comes after it, as this uncertainty increases our desire to engage in the task again in the future.

Types of Rewards:

1. Fixed Interval Rewards:

This reward system involves receiving a reward after a fixed interval of time. For example, using a Pomodoro timer or an app like Forest to work for a specific duration and then allowing oneself to engage in a more enjoyable activity. The anticipation of a reward after a set time period can significantly boost motivation and make the work more enticing.

2. Fixed Ratio Rewards:

In this system, a reward is earned after completing a certain number of tasks. For instance, committing to writing a specific number of words or solving a set number of questions before allowing oneself to take a break. This approach not only provides a clear goal to work towards but also instills a sense of accomplishment upon completion.

3. Variable Interval Rewards:

With this pattern, rewards are received after an undetermined amount of time that keeps changing. It could be based on factors like personal fatigue, feeling satisfied with the work done, or even external cues from others. Similar to winning in a video game, where the exact moment of achievement remains uncertain, this system keeps us engaged and motivated to continue working.

4. Variable Ratio Rewards:

This system involves receiving a reward after completing an unpredictable amount of work. The quantity of work required varies each time, and we are unaware of when we will be rewarded. This approach is akin to playing a casino game, where the uncertainty keeps us engaged and eager to achieve the desired outcome.

Auditing Work and Reward Tasks:

To effectively implement these reward systems, it is essential to audit both our work tasks and the rewards we indulge in. Identifying the activities we tend to gravitate towards after completing a task or when avoiding work can provide valuable insights. It could be scrolling on social media, watching YouTube videos, or engaging in other leisure activities. Similarly, analyzing our morning routines and pre-sleep activities can help uncover our attention's natural inclination.

Actionable Advice:

1. Create a Reward Menu:

Develop a list of rewards that align with your interests and values. This menu can serve as a reference when choosing rewards for completing tasks or reaching milestones. By selecting rewards that genuinely excite and motivate you, you enhance the effectiveness of the reward system.

2. Prioritize Variety:

Ensure that your reward system incorporates a mix of fixed interval, fixed ratio, variable interval, and variable ratio rewards. This variety prevents monotony and keeps the reward system engaging and unpredictable, fostering sustained motivation.

3. Set Realistic Goals:

When using the fixed ratio or variable ratio reward systems, set attainable goals that challenge you without overwhelming you. Breaking down larger tasks into smaller, achievable milestones allows for a sense of progress and accomplishment, further reinforcing the reward system.


By incorporating strategic scheduling and reward systems into our daily routines, we can boost our productivity and motivation. Understanding and implementing the concepts of fixed interval, fixed ratio, variable interval, and variable ratio rewards can make the work itself more interesting and enjoyable. Remember to audit your work and reward tasks, create a personalized reward menu, prioritize variety, and set realistic goals. By leveraging these strategies, you can transform your productivity and achieve success even with the demands of a full-time job.

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