Gamify Your To Do List
There’s always more than one way to do something. What works for you may not necessarily work as well for someone else, and vice versa. There are tens of thousands of options for pretty much anything you want to do, try, or learn. Being more productive is an ongoing quest for nearly every professional and business owner, and finding the right tool or system is an effort in experimentation.
Many of the productivity systems are admittedly dry. I mean,
just look at the words: productivity system. This is great for the left-brain,
analytical people of the world who love structure, process, and step-by-step
instructions. Perhaps you’re an entrepreneur, a creative, or a right-brain
ideator. Systems to you sound boring and mundane. You’ve probably already
started to check out mentally because there have been too many left-brain words
in this paragraph…
But wait, don’t go! This article is for you if traditional
productivity systems don’t work for you, but you still desire to increase your
efficiency and effectiveness.
A relatively new productivity technique emerging to help you
stay focused and get more done is gamifying your daily and/or weekly To Do
for the purposes of this discussion, is using game-like elements to increase
productivity. In simplest form, it’s like giving yourself a literal gold star for
every completed task or finished project, a throwback to our days as
kindergarteners and first grade schoolchildren.
The reason gamification works can be attributed to the complex super-computer residing between our ears. In their book Gamification by Design, Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham cite the reason gamification works is what they refer to as the dopamine loop. The dopamine loop, according to Susan Weinschenk, Ph. D. in Psychology Today, works like this:
“Dopamine is created in various parts of the brain and is critical in all sorts of brain functions, including thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking and reward… It's easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more.”
seek -> achieve -> reward -> dopamine hit -> reinforced behavior.
Using our early childhood example, how do parents get their kids to eat food they don’t like? Make the spoonful of pureed broccoli buzz around their head like an airplane, whooshing down to the hangar for landing in their gullet. In other words, make it fun and attach a reward. When baby eats her broccoli, daddy giggles, laughs and dances. Baby gets a hit of dopamine and this positive behavior is reinforced - more broccoli is eaten, followed by more giggling, laughing and dancing.
A gold star and happy daddy will motivate, but simple forms of reward become monotonous