Learn how to use productive gamification to power through your obligations
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. -A simply definition courtesy of Wikipedia
The traits your gamified to-do list needs
Tangible cues keep you on track
Below are 10 ways that you can use productive gamification
1. Reward checkpoints
Break the checkpoint down to specific pitstops along a journey. For instance, if you want to teach yourself how to code, come up with a series of levels that you must reach in order to qualify for the next round. This checkpoint should not be considered achieved until everything behind it is satisfied. And before you embark on the next round, give yourself some sort of accolade. Whether it is your favorite snack or a lunch with a friend, try to give yourself something to look forward to.
2. Create a system to monitor your achievements
3. Identify your rewards/demerit mechanism.
4. Master the fundamentals
Most athletes know the power of practicing the same actions and motions over and over. When you learn how to play basketball, you may dribble a million times before mastering your shot.
That is because the details are so important. The details build towards the big finish. You can be a great shooter but if you can’t dribble, the ball will be stolen before you make it close enough to the basket.
Repetitive practice makes the fundamentals easier so that you don’t have to spend as much energy on them. Then you can redirect your energy to the more complex items.
5. Create a strategy
If you are playing a video game and you keep dying at the same place, your brain begins to learn your point of failure and strategize its way around it. Your button combinations and timing are revised until you power through.
In sports, you study your opponents best moves so that you know which weakness to penetrate and hopefully capitalize on. When you don’t have a strategy for your opponent, your opponent will overtake you every time.
If you know you get lost in your inbox, turn off your notifications. If you know that, without distractions, your morning time is peak productive, place your phone on do not disturb until lunchtime. The trick to strategy is thinking a few moves ahead of your obstacle so that you can outmaneuver it.
6. Choose a competitor
7. Envision the finish line
Understanding the feeling you will get when you cross the finish line, when you’re holding that trophy, when you see “level cleared,” may be just the energy shot you needed to carry you through the mental cramp screaming at you to quit.
8. Get in your element
When a basketball player is shooting free throws, you may notice that they often have the same pre-shot sequence. They may dribble twice and spin the ball before taking their shot. They may point their finger, take a step forward and one step back and then shoot. These patterns may seem like weird ticks, but really they are instrumental in placing your mind in a tried and true position for success.
Before you sit down to work, perhaps you need to place your pencil to your right and your coffee to your left. I personally like to write in the morning. I sit in the same chair facing towards the sunrise with my coffee next to me. This environment signals to my brain that it is time to write.
It may seem quirky at first, but your brain benefits from familiar triggers.
9. Make it tangible
“Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar.”—Trent Dyrsmid
This visual accumulation of progress helps to keep you focused and your goals clear. It is a subtle reward to literally watch your “to-do pile” decrease as your “done pile” increases.
10. Time yourself
In most sports, you are more competing against the clock than the other team. Games are pretty much who gets the most points by the time the clock says zero.
Working within the constraint of time can give yourself concrete parameters within which to employ a strategy. This is not to advocate rushing through your work. Simply be conscious of how much time you’re dedicating towards a task. This keeps time on your side.
Strategized energy wins the race. You don’t want to burn out too fast or waste an inordinate amount of time on a task that gets you no closer to your finish line.
Also published on Medium.