The Carrot-Gingerbread-Poker Method

    Workplace Poker

    For more than ten years of my active search and application of GTD / PM methods in my, almost ten-year-old practice of a freelancer and entrepreneur, it finally dawned on me - there is no silver bullet. Many always knew about this, but it took me years. When for you the simultaneous number of projects is measured by more than one dozen. When you are so procrastinator that even procrastinating with this article from work, you manage to procrastinate by reading Leibniz letters and you are ready to procrastinate recursively. When you are a sixth-category perfectionist and romantic programmer, you hope until the last that there is a universal cure. But he is not ...

    It would be happiness, yes ... the many years of searching for the philosopher's stone have borne fruit. I have accumulated a large chest of various approaches that I want to share.

    In the late 1980s, Janet Evans reigned supreme in swimming among female styers. Four-time Olympic champion. The holder of two world records that lasted almost twenty years, which was an exceptional achievement for the post-war period. Was this the result of outstanding physical data? Not. For all anthropometric indicators, Janet was below average. But she was distinguished by technology. She swam so "freestyle" that sports commentators taught: "Children, never swim like her." And so no one swam. Neither then nor now. But what did not suit everyone, made Evans an outstanding athlete.

    This short excursion into history I give for the purpose of one important recommendation. Search for your technique, experiment. Do not refuse any approach just because it did not fit the majority. Even inside the team, participants should be able to use their strengths. This is what can be called flexible. This is what I call agile. When you have Janet in your team, you can hang a stone around your neck, or you can ... put on flippers on your legs.

    For example, the Pomodoro method works great for many, while I lasted four to five visits over a couple of hours in different contexts to check its comprehensive inapplicability. It turned out that for a person who can work several times a day according to the Tabata protocol, and between series to go into hours-long “flows”, this technique is completely unsuitable. And to another it will be of great benefit.

    I would also add that our will must eat as varied as our body. A diet from one, even a very useful product, will inevitably lead to an imbalance in the body. Feed her a variety of dishes. And I want to present the recipe for one of them today.

    The Carrot-Gingerbread-Poker Method

    The incentive system has settled in HRM, time management and many other disciplines immediately and forever. Demanding something from yourself, it is better to pay for it. For wakefulness we pay sleep. For a hard working week, you can pay with a typo. Executives are racking their brains to motivate you for your amazing results in the last quarter. All these trade relations form virtual markets in which we sell what we can and buy, what we like.

    Both the real economy and our domestic economy are characterized by difficulties in carrying out barter transactions. How to sell the login form of a new project that you spent five minutes on for summer wind surfing courses? And the annual project, what did you finish today for a half-hour visit to Habr? So that the head would not be torn from such unbalanced operations, mankind came up with the cost equivalent - money.

    Using real money is too practical, which means that there will be problems supporting impractical, absurd, fantastic goals for which we cannot pay now. And the means of payment will begin to dictate priorities. About which, using the Eisenhower matrix as an example, Stephen Covey wrote excellently long before his bestsellers. Strategic issues that belonged to the category of important, but “did not burn,” drowned under the influx of important and urgent tactical tasks. Like a lumberjack with a blunt ax. It is becoming more and more difficult to pass the norm; to solve the current tasks of logging has to be increasingly intensive. There is absolutely no time to think about sharpening your tool. In this metaphor, someone can recognize not only lumberjacks.

    Take, say, a health issue. For many, it fades into the background until it falls into the category of urgent, or even urgent. Can we find such venture capitalists who would be ready to invest their money in it at the start? I doubt it. But we know that playing sports, for example, cannot in any way affect our domestic economy. Most likely, we will increase productivity, extend the life of our fixed assets, and so on. A bargain, no doubt. But what if for such “infrastructure” projects we seek not external financing, but internal? Let's print the money as an American Fed and borrow it.

    Primary issue

    Poker Chips Issue

    For this experiment, I took a briefcase with poker chips and carried out the "emission" of my personal currency directly to the desktop. On the left hand - free money supply, let's call it “bank”, by analogy with board games. Right - own funds, let them be called "balance". All our actions are conditionally divided into important and all others. The former will increase your balance, the latter will decrease. They brushed their teeth - threw a chip by 5 units, did exercises - added there by 10, spent 15 minutes on a useless news site - paid off, invested an hour in the project of their dreams, which they put off for several years - they got 60, or even 240.

    When this idea first came to mind, I first laughed at it. But the habit of experimentation has taken its toll. Today I can already summarize the intermediate month and a half result, that this is one of the longest-playing techniques in my many years of practice and, perhaps, the most effective. Yes, it looks like a parody of the economic system, but we would hardly organically integrate a complex one into our everyday life. And its deliberate simplicity, however, encapsulates some fundamental principles. Time is money, and we have this capital. But you can’t get it right away or get a loan from a bank for it to invest in useful areas of our development. On the one hand, it is constantly lacking, on the other hand, we often waste it. And this primitive game introduces objective numerical indicators, simulates natural trading processes, encourages assessment, the search for understanding and balance. I will share some practical observations.


    Do not force yourself to work on the system. She should work for you. If you feel that the balance is upset and there is a shortage of virtual finances for the pleasant, do not try to solve this problem by force. And even more so do not follow the path of lies to yourself. Just change the pricing. If earlier in an hour of productive work you gave yourself a hundred - raise the course to two hundred. Five minutes on a habr bought for ten - dumping to five.

    It may well be that some types of activity that seem natural today will leave the "market" in general tomorrow. When I actively worked for several hours in the new mode, I developed an excess of “liquidity” on the balance of poker chips, sufficient to buy several hours of any, the most meaningless type of activity. When you have an indulgence for procrastination, it suddenly turns out that there is absolutely no demand for it. Thus, I reduced the empty visit to news sites to almost zero, and the freed up time was taken by other ways of spending time. Which I did not expect at all, but they turned out to be much more interesting and useful.

    The key task of the first stage is to find values ​​and their quantitative indicators. Earn in a variety of ways, spend the most bizarre. When the balance, following the golden rule of business, is kept in the region of zero, the formed market value of this or that type of your activity can give a lot of interesting food for the mind.


    This approach helps to cope with complex problems. Often, they serve as triggers for procrastination. It would seem that the technique for solving them is extremely simple - to decompose the problem into sub-tasks of a lower order. Until they become easy enough to execute. A special case of decomposition is the so-called “first step”. When an atomic shift is made, but the final problem becomes that same atom less. As Gogol once answered Sologub, who “didn’t write”: “Take a pretty feather, clean it up carefully, put a sheet of paper in front of you and start like this:“ Something is not written to me today. ” The poker approach stimulates such actions. I noticed that to convert the problem into chips, I unconsciously try to either break the task down into components, or chop off the first step “at least one chip”. Almost constantly, this first step detonates the whole chain.


    The work done is visualized. Although this is just a stack of chips, their growth and each successive shift from the bank to the balance has a motivating aftertaste. Sometimes an impressive amount of work done should have an effect on fatigue, but the opposite effect arises. When in a state close to the stream, there is a desire to “cut down more chips in an easy way”.


    Cases and idleness manage to balance more effectively. There is time to work, there is time to relax. Much better than procrastination when we are essentially stuck between work and leisure without any benefit to both of them.

    For example, there was still a carriage of childishness in me that my three children were teaching me, and I like to play computer games. You cut the maximum level of difficulty, the language on the shoulder and away we go. It’s a good time to communicate with sons and cleans our neural networks well. But in a busy schedule, finding time for this kind of fun is not easy. And if it succeeds, once a month, then more and more in a hurry. As if it happened for the last time.

    About 5-6 weeks ago I rented a large project. Imagine being distracted during this period by games was from the realm of fiction, and here the output of a whole series of hits. I decided to conduct an experiment, since there was a margin of safety, and I introduced a simple poker plan. Chip of the minimum face value on the balance for each micro-task in the project. For each such chip, you could buy either one gaming micro-quest, or N minutes in the game. Prior to the implementation of the method, the project went at a normal pace and was very busy. After the introduction, the pace significantly accelerated, more frequent entries into the stream were noticed, Assasin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 were completed (at maximum, with almost all secondary tasks). To this were added new types of strength training, electronics classes with an average son, the start of some projects from the category of "very necessary, but there was always no time",

    When I previously rested against the barrier on any project, the risk of procrastination entered the red zone. Now I can either honestly “lower” the accumulated funds without transactions with my conscience, or, in their absence, make money on other tasks, be it sports, family, my own professional development and other proactive ways. On the one hand, this does not provide obvious ways to overcome these barriers. On the other hand, it creates a positive, healthy background without an oppressive guilt.

    What is our life? A game.

    There is some game component to this whole process. Someone may have a minus, but I prefer to act "effortlessly".

    By the most Pomodoro

    In terms of balance, the method is somewhat similar to the Pomodoro technique. With the only difference being that work and rest intervals are formed adaptively. The system allows you to explore close to us activities, the most successful relationships. At the same time, it encourages both long-term withdrawals into the stream, and dynamic interval work.


    I have not had time to conduct experiments with the team application of this method, but already see some possible implementations. Almost always in a team there are unpleasant, but important projects that move with a creak through the thickets of collective procrastination. And there are pleasant, though no less useful. Something like:

    • Research of new products in perspective and in terms of “tool sharpening";
    • Refactoring projects that are in a permanent emergency state. There is always not enough time to put them in order, and they gradually begin to exude an eerie “code smell”.
    • New projects. From the category of "want and prick." It seems to carry a prospect, but so much has not been done on current projects.

    There are many examples, but most of these initiatives will be in the “important but not urgent” category. The same priority issues hindering strategic development that Covey mentioned. Only on a team scale, enterprise scale. An attempt to balance different categories of projects using the PPC method can give a very interesting quantitatively-qualitative picture of both projects and team members ... and management. Just as the fall in my domestic demand for procrastination revealed new interesting directions for investing time, so your specialists can show themselves from completely new sides.


    This pseudo-economic system, like the real one, cannot be ideal. There will be inflation, and an increase in the cost of certain types of activities and a crisis of overproduction. You will have to regularly correct the balance in the “monetary” policy. If suddenly there are no “crises” - declare them. Raise the price of sports exercises sharply for a week, and after a month do the same for projects that are stored on your mezzanine. Evaluate the results, feel your reaction.

    I am still very far from a comprehensive study of this method. But while I have completely positive emotions on the results of the application. Join, experiment, share and thank you for your patience.

    I take this opportunity to wish you to become masters of your time in the New Year. For your “economy” to demonstrate sustainable growth and efficiency :)

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