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The Ultimate Guide To Gamification: How To Trick Yourself Into Being More Productive

Gamification: What Is it and how does it work

I’ve started to see Gamification mentioned more and more recently. Maybe it’s one of those things that when you notice something you start noticing it more, or maybe it’s becoming more popular! Whatever the reason I’d not really heard what it was so I thought I’d take a deeper look into what it was and how it relates to productivity.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is where you take elements of game playing, typically point scoring or a general sense of competition, and you apply them to another aspect of life – in this case productivity. There’s a very comprehensive guide to gamification on Wikipedia if you’d like to look at the ideas behind it in more depth.

Essentially, gamification allows you to reward yourself for good behaviour, provides more motivation and helps to to progress or improve on certain tasks that you may be struggling with. Think of it like trying to “Level Up” in a computer game, which I’m sure you’ve all played in some shape or form before!

How Does Gamification Apply To Productivity?

There are many ways of “Gamifying” your life and it especially applies to aspects of your life that you don’t like doing. This could be anything from general chores (cleaning, taking the rubbish out, doing the ironing etc.), getting up on time, or driving sensibly to life goals such as losing weight, sky diving or swimming with dolphins – the possibilities are almost endless.

In order to apply gamification to your productivity you need to identify the following tasks:

  • Your “Dread Tasks” – Tasks that you never do
  • Your “Meh Tasks” – Tasks that you’ll do but only after being pushed
  • Your “Hmm Tasks” – Tasks that you’ll do but they don’t give you a sense of satisfaction
  • Your “Yeay Tasks” – Tasks that you’ll do because you enjoy them
  • Your “If Only Tasks” – Tasks that are something you aspire to achieve someday

The idea behind gamification is to track all of your tasks and to assign “Points” to each task depending on its perceived difficulty level. Difficulty can be based on the fact that it’s physically difficult for you to do like exercising at a higher level, or it could be based on the fact that it’s motivationally difficult for you to do the task.

How Does Gamification Work?

I’ve written in the past about how checking items off a to-do list can make you feel rewarded and gives a some sort of “rush” that makes you want to achieve more. This is all down to the release of dopamine which helps you reap the rewards of your efforts when you complete tasks.

Keeping track of your efforts, and accruing points also helps you to want to achieve more. A lot of the time, all we need is a little kick in the backside to get us going and the tracking associated with gamification helps us to start to achieve the momentum we need to keep up with finishing tasks.

How To Use Gamification

There are several ways of tracking you tasks and their “game scores”. These range from a piece of paper, a simple spreadsheet or a gamification app.

For paper-based solutions, make a list of all of your regular tasks in order of difficulty (or most to least enthusiasm). You can then assign a point score to each task, for example the tasks you find the easiest and have no problems doing would score a “1”, the tasks you hate doing and need a real push could score a “10”.

Each time you complete a task you score the number of points associated with that task. Over time, you accrue these points and they can be used to build towards rewards.

You can set yourself different rewards for different points levels – sort of like a loyalty card for being productive. What you achieve is completely up to you but it should be something that you want to earn, or feel that you need to work to earn. Some examples could be:

  • Score 30 points and you’re allowed popcorn next time you’re at the cinema
  • Score 10 points and you’re allowed to stay up an hour later one night
  • Score 100 points and you get to have a weekend away or buy that new tablet you’ve been hankering after.

I know these are a bit arbitrary but I think you get the general idea. The rewards you choose need to be rewards set for you, unless you’re running a game like HabitRPG listed below where you use your points to level up your computer character!

How To Track Gamification Scores

There are many ways to track your progress using gamification. I’ll be providing a paper-based one on Wednesday but to tide you over and get you started here are some apps that you can use – and unless specified they’re free:

Android Gamification Apps

iPhone Gamification Apps

iPad Gamification Apps

Web Apps

You can also get my free paper-based gamification tracker below

 

 

Usage instructions can be found here

Over To You

Do you think gamification will work for you as a productivity tool? Tell us why it will or won’t in the comments. And, if you have any suggestions for apps or resources that might help people track their gamified tasks that I’ve missed please let me know in the comments or drop me a line through the contact form

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6 Comments

  •  

    Do you know of any type of application that let’s you independantly  assign points to tasks like you mentioned under the “how to use gamifcation” section?? I’ve been looking around for quite a while for something that would let me keep score of tasks like you mentioned, but I’m stumped… none of the services you recommend actually allow you to do that for yourself, let alone assign them to a task, routine, or goal. At least from what I’ve tried with them…. also, I only have access to an android device and a desktop.

    •  
      Katy Whitton

      Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been hunting high and low for something that does what you want and I can’t find anything.

      There are plenty of apps that let you score points but I can’t seem to find anything that lets you assign your own value to a task I’m afraid.

      The only thing I can suggest is tracking it on paper at the moment and I’ll have to look into creating an app in the future that you can assign points to.

      My free Printable Gamification planner is here: http://www.flippingheck.com/free-download-gamification-score-tracker/

      If you find something in the mean time please let us know!

      •  

        (Tldr: the app I’m settling on is called “to do log” for android, and costs 2.99. Made by the same guy that made “habit streak” if you have trouble finding it… it functionally does everything I was looking for, though.)

        Trust me when I say I’ve been searching for this kind of stuff for far, far too long…. I actually did end up finding a suitable alternative, although I’m still working on actually using it. It kind of sucks because it’s one I’ve known about since the very beginning, back in 2012, but because of personal reasons I was never willing to shell out the money on something I wasn’t certain would work for me… it’s stupid cheap ironically too. Kind of a frustrating compromise for this part of my planning process lol.

        *LONG STORY SHORT,* it’s called “to do log” on the Android app store (if you have apple, again, trust me; you have vastly superior options if you just look around lol). Its from the same guy that made “habit streak” and such…. It’s $2.99, but the functions mostly satisfied my (super, super picky) specifications… let’s you assign points to tasks within the app, create routine tasks, negative points, positive points, even track how many points for certain intervals, etc… it’s nicer than I thought it’doesn’t be, but it’s all been a very bitter-sweet compromise for me.

        It doesn’t allow for some of the above things, like 3 red points/4 yellow points or anything like that though. Also, some reviewers made a good point that it isn’t set up in a very practical or integratable manner, kind of like the creator never actually used it himself… you’re basically using it as a phone based score-sheet (which is functionally the exact thing I wanted, so I can track it as it all happens/not forget later). 

        Super long-winded response, but that’s just my thoughts on all of this, long before I ever found this article/this blog even existed lol. I got wayyyy too many issues and nitpicks all working in tandem, honestly.

        •  
          Katy Whitton

          Thanks for posting this, I’ll have to take a look – although $2.99 might be a bit much to pay if it doesn’t do what you want it to do!

          •  

            Exactly- I stumbled upon another small time app called “task race 3” that actually does what I mostly want it to do… it let’s you assign points to weekly routine items. Hopefully that one works better for me.

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