Musical incentives

I’m all about tricking myself into productivity and rewarding myself when things get done. One way I’ve done that in the past was to reward myself with $10 guilt-free on iTunes when I got a paper submitted.

I haven’t gotten any papers submitted (or resubmitted) yet this fall, but I did write two grant proposals (and received one) and I’m making lots of progress on the revisions (though you wouldn’t know it from my counter at left). So I decided that it was time to reward myself a bit. Here’s what I got:

  • Winter Wonderland sung by James Taylor
  • Masters in this hall sung by Bach Choir (a real cool, under-played carol)
  • Carol of the Bells sung by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (another carol I wish I heard more often)
  • Concrete Sky by Beth Orton (a Pandora discovery that I just love)
  • Evidence by Tara MacLean (another Pandora discovery)
  • In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride (I can’t help but like this one right now)
  • Rocks and Water by Deb Talan (a Pandora discovery with a very appropriate title)
  • In this Life by Chantal Kreviazuk (Pandora again)
  • Ooh Child (Alternate Version) by Beth Orton (since I like Concrete Sky so much, I figured I’d give another one of hers a try)
  • Edelweiss by The Innocence Mission (love the song from childhood, and this is a very sweet version)
  • Going to the Zoo by Peter, Paul, and Mary (another I grew up with and have to have for Minnow)
  • I have a song to sing o! by Peter, Paul, and Mary (as above)

What do my musical tastes say about me? Do you have any recommendations for the iTunes shopping trip I’ll reward myself with when this paper is accepted?

Of course, it is a little silly to be spending money on music right now. It’s my favorite musical time of the year – when I can listen to Christmas carols all day long without anyone giving me funny looks.


  1. #1 ScienceMama
    December 6, 2007

    Beth Orton is amazing. You should check out the album “Central Reservation”… It’s one of my favorites. “Trailer Park” is good too.

  2. #2 ecogeofemme
    December 6, 2007

    Rewards make great incentives for work. Buying music is a great idea. My labmates and I have a complicated system of “Twix Challenges”. In fact, we have pretty much agreed to not eat Twix candy bars unless it is the result of a Twix Challenge. The little things we will do to get through all those tedious tasks…

  3. #3 yami
    December 6, 2007

    I heard the season’s first rendition of Carol of the Bells on the Campanile yesterday. It’s so lovely on real bells! I’m really going to miss the twice-daily carillon when I leave Berkeley.

  4. #4 chezjake
    December 7, 2007

    I’m not sure if you’ll find it on iTunes, but look for the modern carol (written in 1995) “Chariots” written by John Kirkpatrick. Also known affectionately as “The Carol of the Alliteration,” it’s thoroughly rousing and just a joy to hear or sing along with.

    You can hear a snatch of it in this album listing at Barnes & Noble (scroll down to track 21 on disc 3):

    Besides that version, there’s also a wonderful recording of it by the group “Nowell Sing We Clear.”

  5. #5 Andrea Grant
    December 7, 2007

    Damn that’s a good idea. I seem to have reached the stage where I need serious incentives–this PhD is starting to seem terminal…. So far I’ve been working on a much, much shorter rewards timescale which I instituted after reading this article by Virginia Valian
    I work for 5 to 15 minutes (no joke) and then go read blogs (and press releases–I’m totally addicted to them) for a similar amount of time. It hasn’t changed my productivity at all, because if I try to just work for hours continuously, I just start squirming a lot and casting my eyes wildly about my office anyhow.

  6. #6 Field Notes
    December 7, 2007

    I like rewards incentives too; it’s how I finally got my dissertation done – that and wanting to catch up with sciencewoman who is always one step ahead of everyone!

  7. #7 Flicka Mawa
    December 11, 2007

    I also listen to Beth Orton, and I remember coming across some Tara Maclean and Chantal Kreviazuk many years ago that I enjoy. I think I came across Beth Orton through iTunes itself…or maybe it was Pandora too. Hmm. Anyhow, we share some musical taste it seems.

  8. #8 Flicka Mawa
    December 11, 2007

    Oh, forgot to say – I’ve been listening to the song Stolen Car from Orton’s Central Reservation and She Cries Your Name from Trailer Park. And Ooh Child.

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