Replying to emails is a good thing. I know this. Replying to emails has benefits like “continued employment” and “publications” and “continued close relationships with family members.” And it only costs, like, fifteen minutes a day.
But the benefits take months to manifest, and the costs are right here in front of me. Reply to an email? Now? When I could instead spend those five minutes on something that floods my brain with endorphins? No way. Something something hyperbolic discounting.
The obvious counterstroke is to bargain with my stupid hindbrain: if I write emails, then I get an immediate, concrete reward. I’m counterbalancing the stick with a carrot. Or, better, chocolate.
This is doing a fantastic job of making me write emails. Every time I see chocolate and think “I want some of that,” I reply to an email! I even regret running out of emails to reply to, because it limits my chocolate supply.