Gamification is Your Key to Self Improvement

Summary: When you turn a chore into a game, it becomes fun. What if you did it for everything important in your life? (Tweet This!)

We've all been there. We've struggled with our productivity. I've been there. Let me tell you, when you build a website around a central tenant of being more productive this qualifies as "A Very Bad Thing."

When this happens, I realize that I have two choices. I could go through the list of the list of excuses or man up. Admittedly, I usually do both, go through the list of excuses and then man up.

Living the Video Game Life

Living the Video Game Life

It's one thing to know that I have to be more productive. Doing it is a horse of a different color. I need a way to stay motivated and accountable. The first thought that came to my mind is that I should take a commitment contract out against myself. This would help ensure that I stick to my plan. I was in the process of doing just that when I realized that would have to quantify my productivity. Remember that "Measurable" from our SMART Goals?

Fortunately, I happen to have a handy tool to quantify my productivity. I can simply refer to my prioritized to-do list. Each day, I will keep track how many points I've completed in a spreadsheet. I could even run some statistics on the data and create some graphs. The possibilities are endless.

Rate My Life

All problems are solved, right? Well not exactly. As we all known life intervenes with work sometimes. Last week, we had two feet of snow. Between shoveling and taking care of the kids, I didn't get nearly as much work done as I hoped. On my conventional business to-do list, this would have scored low. On my, "I'd like to not slip, fall, and spend a month in traction" to-do list, it ranked very high.

I have a lot of items like this. Walking my dog comes to mind immediately. I don't get any work done, but we both get exercise and he gets a fun trip. There are the times where I take some extra time make a healthy meal. This lowers my "work" productivity, but it is also a worthwhile trade off.

The last thing that I want to do is to become a slave to my productivity charts and graphs. I needed to do a little tweak. I created a spreadsheet for several areas that I want to be better in. I'd love to share it with you, but it really is far too rough, right now.

The categories were ones that were just off the top of my head - most of them pulled from the goals of this site: Money, Health, Productivity, Social good, and Family / Fun. The idea here is to rate myself each day on this criteria. If I eat tons of fast food and don't exercise, I'm going to get a low health score. If go crazy and buy a bunch of tablets for every room in the house, I'm going to get a low score in the money category (and perhaps an increased score in the "likelihood of getting divorced" column).

Currently, I have a Max Score, Today's Rating, and Today's Score column. As I've explained it thus far, I could just put a number from 1 to 10 for each day of the month, and have the same result.

My Life as a Video Game

My spreadsheet attempts to break down categories into specific tasks. So walking the dog gets points in both family/fun and health. I have exercise and diet tasks in the health category. If I have the best workout, I can earn 10 points there. If I have an excellent diet, that's another 10 points. I often forget to floss, so I'm giving myself an extra point. What I have now is a Health Category with a Max Score of 21. If I put in above average workout (6) with above average diet (6) and floss (1), I will earn 13 of 21 possible points. When I skip the gym, I likely won't get out of the single digits.

This is where living your life as a video game comes in. I want to score as many points as I can. In general, the more points I've score, the more productive my day is. There's even a word for it, Gamification.

As long as I keep the system in balance, this has been a great way to stay motivated throughout the day. Scoring points allows me to set measurable goals.

Perhaps best of all, I can put a reward system in place. Maybe scoring so many points earns me a beer or scotch at night. Maybe scoring so many points a month earns me $100 to buy some kind of technology toy. This is the next natural step, but I'm not there yet. We'll save that for another post for another day.

Photo Credit: Raja Nicholas Fletcher

This post involves:

Mind, Motivation, Productivity

... and focuses on:


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