July 12, 2013 1:33 PM   Subscribe

What $20 item will help me remember that I can make better use of my time than playing video games? Exciting snowflakes inside!

Back in September I asked this question. I learned some programming, wrote for my blog (usually once a week) and even banged out 50K+ words toward a novel in my spare time at night. I accomplished a lot (for me) and I felt pretty damn good about. My schedule has recently changed again - my wife is back at home in the evenings and I find that when the house has finally settled down and we're 'set' my default is to open Civ V instead of Google Docs. The problem is, I've noticed I'm a lot happier after an hour or two of writing/learning than I am after an hour of engaged game-playing.

That brings us to today. Well, yesterday, when I found a Visa gift card for $20 that I got for my birthday that I thought I had lost. Hooray!

My gut instinct was to blow it on on a video game that's on sale. However, when I went to finalize the purchase I realized, 'I don't want to spend more time playing video games than I already do.'

Instead of spending this gift card on video games, is there a $20 gizmo/software/book/inspirational wall hanging/etc* I can use my gift card for that will inspire me to take the longer, more rewarding route instead of defaulting to the short road of video games?

Something that will remind me 'hey, you usually feel really bleh after video games - why not do something that makes you feel good?'

I hope this all makes sense. I don't think there is some magic item that I can buy for $20 that will make me a better steward of time. I like the idea of having something tangible sitting around that reminds me 'on this day you chose to spend your money on this item that will help you rather than on a video game.'

*those are suggestions but it could literally be anything
posted by Tevin to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Get yourself a copy of this book. It's one of the few business/motivational books that isn't the same old regurgitated crap, it has tons of really inspiring ideas, and it's written in very short chapters (some as short as a single page). Keep it on your desk.
posted by jbickers at 1:34 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I find that when I want to make changes like this, I'll try all sorts of little stuff along the lines of the $20 gizmo and it'll work for like...a week. What does work for me, though, is finally owning up to the change I want to make and telling somebody - generally my wife - about it. Even if she never mentions it again, somehow this makes it click in my head that I'm serious making the change and not doing it would be letting her down.

So maybe spend the $20 on a bottle of wine to drink with your wife, tell her you want to cut down on video games, and have a good conversation about it?
posted by Rallon at 1:47 PM on July 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

How about a wall calendar so you can use the Seinfeld technique?
posted by O9scar at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buy yourself a decent (if introductory-range) fountain pen. I did this about 6 months ago and the time I take to actually sit and use it has allowed me to focus on some personal & work projects that I ultimately want to bring to fruition. It's biggish, weighty, and having it on me reminds me that I should be using it. The heft of it in my hand is pleasant, and another tactile reminder of why I got it in the first place.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:06 PM on July 12, 2013

Get an account at Duotrope. Start submitting all of that writing!
posted by haplesschild at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about a Pomodoro timer? Plus you'd have $$ left over for this.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2013

Uninstall Civ V. Buy a frame in which to hang your shattered Civ V disk, as a reminder.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:48 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

An egg timer with a bell so you can remind yourself how long you've been playing (see: Pomodoro Technique).
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe a small kit project that lets you spend time creating something useful for yourself? Briefly poking around online, I see a film camera, a felt dragon, and sandals.
posted by teremala at 3:04 PM on July 12, 2013

Do you use a Mac? Vitamin-R.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:26 PM on July 12, 2013

I'll offer up the book 59 Seconds. It probably won't change your life, but I'd say it'll give you twenty dollars worth of change.
posted by CustooFintel at 11:33 PM on July 12, 2013

Maybe this book and some pencils?
posted by mephron at 2:39 AM on July 13, 2013

If you've found something to do which is more rewarding, why keep them around? You could back up your video games to removable media, give the backup to a friend, blow away your local copies of them, and use the $20 to support your new hobbies. (Stein on Writing is a great book, Arduino projects always take money.)
posted by Coventry at 3:19 PM on July 13, 2013

A Parker Jotter stainless steel pen, and a packet of Quink gel ink refills to replace the ballpoint. It's fun to fiddle and play with while brainstorming, and fun to write with once you've stormed your brain. You can get them at the local Staples or from Amazon.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:51 PM on July 13, 2013

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