How Gamifying Boring Tasks Creates Productive Habits

It's easier to get things done when there's a reward for completing a task. Unfortunately, outside of the confines of a video game, most of us don't get rewarded for doing the thousands of tiny, boring things that add up, ultimately, to the big achievements that make us successful. Enter gamification, the practice of assigning video game-worthy rewards to real-life tasks.

trophies 

(Photo Credit: Brad K./Flickr)

Done right, gamification really does resemble a video game. At Lifehacker, Alexander Kalamaroff explains:

"Going to the gym for an hour is 2 red points. Calling my mom is 1 blue point while calling Aunt Deborah is 5 blue points because, honestly, Aunt Deb's sort of a pain to talk to and sometimes she says crazy inappropriate things. Cleaning the bathroom is 15 red points. Otherwise I would never do it. This is the plan to gamify my life, to relate everything I do to a point-based game."

The idea is to assign point values that allow you to reward yourself both in the long- and short-term, modifying them as necessary to inspire yourself to do stop procrastinating. At work, gamification can help you plow through the more mundane aspects of your job -- in other words, anything that would inspire you to sneak off and read the internet instead of doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Best of all for tech-minded folks, there are plenty of apps to help you get the job done. In another Lifehacker post, Alan Henry rounds up several tools that help gamification newbies get up to speed, including:

1. HabitRPG

This to-do app rewards you for checking off items on your list by assigning you points and "gold." It's about as close as you can actually get to turning your life into a real video game.

2. Mindbloom Suite of Apps

Track your mood and energy with Juice, or create branches representing different areas of your life with the Life Game -- feed the branches, which can represent everything from monitoring your finances to taking better care of your health, and you get a reward.

3. SaveUp

It seems like saving money should be its own reward, but if it were, a lot more of us would have fat savings accounts. SaveUp gives you credits for meeting your financial goals, which you can then trade for real money for one of your funds, or use to enter contests with prizes. (Real, not digital.)

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