I have no doubt that I am like many of you when it comes to getting things done. I will rigorously document, organize, color code, and group the things I have to do, big and small, into to-do lists of increasing length and (once I discovered Trello) complexity. When, having meticulously organized the finest details of my near future, I then set forth and work diligently to avoid having to do half of them.
My phone had given me the ability to ensure I’m able to record, rate, and view these tasks anywhere I am, but it hadn’t given me the power to overcome procrastination and avoidance.
Now Stash Away! Stash Away! Stash Away All!
Among the many, many things you can do on your phone is invest in the stock market. For years I thought this was something done by people who had brokers and tens of thousands of dollars to play with. It turns out, I was wrong.
I use Stash that, like other apps Robin Hood, Acorns, TD Ameritrade, and Merrill Edge, allow you to take even your small change and buy stock in individual companies or portfolios. Want to recoup a little of your monthly Netflix bill? You can buy stock in them. Want to save a little money while saving the planet? You can invest in portfolios of companies that develop renewable energy sources.
Rewarding Good Behavior
Token reinforcement is something our phones have made us intimately familiar with, even if we don’t know the exact term. Every like your social media posts receive are reinforcement tokens. They are, except in terms of social capital, worthless. But we chase the little dopamine hit that’s triggered by each interaction like lab mice on a wheel.
Thinking about token reinforcement, I decided to take the two apps on my phone, the one managing my tasks and the one managing my investments, and team them up.
I carried on about my life, ticking off tasks on my to-do lists as I normally did. When I noticed, as I inevitably did with disappointing frequency, that there was an item on my list I’d glide over I would mark it as troublesome, grading it on a scale from 1 to 3 by how anxiously I was avoiding it.
When I was next feeling brave and able to consider something I’d been avoiding, I would pick one of these tasks. If I could mark it as done in my list app, I would immediately open my investment app and buy $1, $5, or $10 worth of stock according to the anxiety grade of the task.
I even started tying the type of stock I bought to the task I’d been avoiding. When I finally made that appointment with the doctor I bought into healthcare companies. When I got around to paying my electricity bill I invested in solar companies.
Much To-Do About Stashing
It’s not exactly token reinforcement (I believe, strictly speaking that the tokens are supposed to have no intrinsic value) but in moving my money from one place to another I’m creating a dopamine hit to any from a reward on social media. Plus I can bask in the warm glow of knowing future me has a few more pennies in his pocket.