Can Gamification Help You Get More Done?

Can Gamification Help You Get More Done?

thegameofwork

This is Week 31 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested gamification using ToDoist’s Karma feature. I also quantified my past task performance using IQTell. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for

How Gamification Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me see how many tasks I can really accomplish. Of course, number of tasks entered and completed is not an accurate measure of productivity. I could work on one big task like a dog for three days straight and would get a bad productivity score. While I got no hard science data, I was very surprised by how consistent the numbers were from week to week. Because I have to calculate the stats manually, I only looked at the last month which I believe is pretty typical for me. Two statistics were extremely helpful. First, I learned that on average, I enter one task a day that I don’t complete. That doesn’t sound bad at all, does it? But it means that I will be 365 tasks in the hole in a year’s time. I would like to avoid that, of course, so I looked at how many tasks I can reasonably accomplish a week and came up with 35. I have a very thorough routine that involves cleaning, homeschooling, organizing, social media, and more, so that doesn’t mean I’m only getting 35 things done. Of course, those 35 tasks also don’t include things that take so little time that I didn’t bother to enter them into IQTell. But using that number and considering that I do very little on Sundays, I realize that I need to try to limit my number of tasks per day to six. I’m absolutely giddy about this. Yes, I will have days when I go over, but it’s as Game of Work {affiliate link} says: We need to know the rules for winning to be motivated. Now I do.
  • Graphs that motivated. I was a little worried that the Karma feature wouldn’t matter much to me. I was pleasantly surprised by the daily emails showing my productivity and Karma charts. The productivity chart fired me up more because it’s based on how much you get done. When I slacked (as you can see I did), the email was like a kindly push that I appreciated. The Karma line kept going up because I was using the app a lot. I expect that line to be more realistic in the future.
  • Introduced me to an app I love. I haven’t changed productivity apps in a long time. It might even be a record! I have been using IQTell and was very happy. ToDoist is the first program I’ve used that has me seriously considering a switch. The UI is absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of Things that I used years ago, only it is all about color. I organize the areas of my life by color, so it’s a natural fit. The color graphs not only show me what life areas I have that need the most attention (not pictured), but tell me if I’m achieving the balance I want. This is something I loved about Life Balance, but ToDoist doesn’t have the time-intensive data entry and “suggestions” of what I should be doing with my time.

ToDoist, review

 

How Gamification Made Me Crazy This Week

  • No competition aspect. Gamification is about more than just tracking performance. Often, it’s about measuring your performance against others’. Competition is very motivating for me when I feel there’s a chance I can win. So is accountability. I didn’t feel I had that, but my Karma score is 2563 after a week for anyone who cares.
  • Not that fun. Another reason gamification increases productivity is because it makes work entertaining. Tracking my stats and using a new app were wonderful, but it wasn’t that fun. There are other apps and approaches that utilize a more game-like interface that might have been a better test. However, I have tried a few in the past and noticed that I get bored with them quickly.

Did Gamification Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, although I would say the feedback aspect was what helped. I feel pretty dumb that I never thought to quantify how many tasks I accomplish on average. I always looked at my time usage instead. I did not get to test how well limiting myself to six tasks per day on average works, but that will be my goal from here on. I also plan to continue using ToDoist for the time being.

**UPDATE**

I’m less interested in how many tasks I can do these days than in accurately estimating how long tasks take. I have no interest in ToDoist karma, because I have remained at a top level no matter what I do. These kinds of features aren’t effective for me if there is no competitive aspect or if top achievements are unreachable. In other words, if I have to give up the rest of my life to be on a leader board, I’m not interested. What I find amusing is that blogging is perfectly gamified and motivating for me. I am constantly able to see my stats on the blog and on social media. I can compare my stats to others’, especially on Facebook. Improving is enough of a challenge to keep me trying, but not so much that I’m discouraged. In fact, the game nature of it is what makes it fairly addictive. I’m hoping that my curriculum business will have the same game-like quality that keeps me coming back for more.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 32

This week I’ll finish testing The 12 Week Year. {affiliate link} I tested time blocking using The 12 Week Year before, but I’ve been using the whole approach for the past 11 weeks. The idea is you can super-power your productivity by setting one to three 12-week goals with week-by-week activities. I set one homeschooling and two writing project goals.

The concept. The 12 Week Year argues that we fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions because the time frame for them is just too long. Instead, we need help to break the goals down into weekly objectives that can be easily quantified. I loved the idea because I succeeded in writing a book and getting fit in 12 weeks.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the book or simply choose one to three goals that you’d like to achieve in the next 12 weeks. Create a reason for each goal that you will regularly reflect upon. Then break each goal down into weekly sub-goals. Track your progress this week and continue on to your goal.

To see if the 12 Week Year worked for me, click here.

Are you a Twitter user? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

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Can Heatmapping Help You Get More Done?

Can Heatmapping Help You Get More Done?

Heatmap

This is Week 30 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Heatmapping from Productive Flourishing could improve my productivity. I adjusted my activities to fit my productivity levels. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Heatmapping Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Got me doing things I usually avoid. There are aspects of homeschooling I absolutely love. Reading history, literature, and science books to the kids are my favorites. Teaching piano and reviewing each child’s work are things I like least–at least they have been. When I began homeschooling, I had little ones who napped in the afternoon. It only made sense to me that I would save activities that required a lot more of my attention (like building castles and science experiments) for these times. It did work then, but now I can’t seem to get anything involved done in the afternoons. I don’t know why I didn’t think to make a change before, but I put the activities I least like to do in the mornings when I am the most productive and those I really enjoy in the afternoon when I would rather not teach. The result? Amazing! Not only did it work, but I’ve grown to enjoy the activities I disliked before.
  • Relieved me of guilt. In the past, I spent much of my low time on social media and felt bad that I wasn’t doing anything “productive.” I am now using the evening hours (when I have no energy for anything else) for social media which has the added benefit of promoting this blog. Guilt be gone!
  • No more productivity fantasies. Without studying my productivity levels, I can foolishly plan to get lots of things accomplished on Friday afternoons when my school commitments are done. I know that won’t happen now, so I can plan realistically and not overload my list.

How Heatmapping Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Levels are inconsistent. Even when I saw general trends in my productivity, it was annoying when I had unexpected lows–mornings I had to drag myself out of bed, for example. You can’t plan for these.

Did Heatmapping Help Me Get Things Done?

If I were writing this in the morning, I would be jumping up and down saying YES! But since it’s a low time for me, I will just say, “It sure did.” One of the things I realized is how often I fight my natural tendencies because of what I think I “should” be doing. I thought of what I should accomplish in the afternoons instead of what I was more likely to accomplish. Heatmapping has led to a happier, more productive school day and life for me.

**UPDATE**

Learning when your most productive times are won’t help you decide how to use them. It’s taken me a while to work out the ideal approach of exercising and writing first thing in the morning, writing again right after dinner, and just vegging out after 8 p.m. But heatmapping has been a critical component of my productivity.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 31


 

This week I’ll be testing gamification using ToDoist’s Karma feature. 

The concept. I read the Game of Work {affiliate link} three years ago and loved it. It appealed to the psychologist in me. The concept is not based on the notion that everything needs to be entertaining in this culture, but rather on long-established research on behavior change.

The essence of the book is that too much of our work has become like a game with no clear rules for winning. Simple changes like tracking activities and clarifying what constitutes a “win” can make a big difference in productivity. I realized that I have been doing these productivity tests without a clear outcome measure other than if I “felt” more productive. I haven’t looked at number of tasks entered versus number of tasks completed, though thankfully I have most of that data and I will present it in future posts.

There are many ways of turning work into motivating games. See this Lifehacker article for ideas. I am most intrigued by ToDoist’s new Karma feature because it subtracts points for pushing back deadlines–something I do A LOT. It’s a free application that I can easily use to create tasks from Gmail using their Chrome Extension. The downside to trying a new app is that I will have to keep my IQTell dashboard up-to-date, assuming that I will want to continue using it (I think I will). IQTell has a badge system, but the rules for it aren’t as clear. Improvements are supposed to be in the works.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Determine a method for tracking tasks entered versus tasks completed. Many applications permit this and it can be done on paper. Saving and continuing to log this data can be helpful for future tests. Decide how you will gamify your work. The comments on the Lifehacker article have some good ideas, too. If you’d like, create a free ToDoist account and we can compare Karma.

To see if gamification worked for me, click here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

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Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

Can Zen to Done Help You Get More Done?

This is Week 29 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Zen to Done implemented with GTDAgenda could help me get more done. I continued many of its practices as I had already implemented them, being sure to plan for the week and choose 1-3 MITs for the day. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Zen to Done Saved My Sanity This Week

  • It was good to return to a weekly review. I hadn’t done this for a while and found it helpful to think of getting things done using a weekly time frame and not just a daily one.
  • Validated what I have learned so far. As I incorporated so many of the productivity hacks and approaches that work for me as a part of Zen to Done, I felt good about the system I’m building for myself. Knowing that it works for Leo is nice, too.
  • Liked the clear connections between goals, projects, and tasks. Zen to Done encourages this kind of thinking, unlike GTD. GTDAgenda’s biggest strength is in this area. The logical, organized part of me loved being able to see the flow from higher-level thinking to day-to-day tasks.

How Zen to Done Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Resisted more than one MIT. Zen to Done suggests a daily focus of one to three MITs. I found that after determining the day’s frog, I really didn’t want to spend the time determining what the next most important tasks were. I continued using my routine time for addressing “Must Do” tasks on some days and on others, other commitments kept me from doing more than one MIT. However, I doubt that Leo would insist I choose two more MITs. That was probably my desire to “do it right.”
  • Distracted by new projects. Not only are we back to doing school, but I’ve had two major, exciting projects to work on this week (more on this later). Whenever that happens, I have a hard time focusing on anything else, which unfortunately includes productivity hacks.
  • Not ready to use a different application. I realized that I couldn’t give GTDAgenda a completely fair review because I’m happy with the programs I use to manage my time and tasks. I was given a free membership in exchange for this review. For those in need of a task management app, it offers one place for managing your goals, projects, MITs (I starred them as Next Actions for the week), and routines. I did not want to pay to test the iPhone app, but I know that would have made it more appealing. I did find the program to be a bit laggier than I am used to. I couldn’t find the schedule feature to use time blocking, but I use Google calendar anyway. Tasks with due dates can be synced to GCal. Emails can be used to create tasks on GTDAgenda, but it appears that each project has its own separate email. This can be a plus or minus depending on how you use it. If you don’t have dozens of new projects, you can create a contact for each project and just email the task to it without trying to remember a special syntax for assigning projects (I hate that).

Did Zen to Done Help Me Get Things Done?

I was tempted to say no because I didn’t notice a change. But honestly, yes. The fact is that I have created my own Zen to Done approach that really works. Choosing 1-3 MITs doesn’t work for me, however.

**UPDATE**

I love weekly planning, but I prefer choosing 1 MIT per area instead of daily MITs.

Heatmap

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 30

This week I’ll be testing Heatmapping from Productive Flourishing.

The concept. There are times of day when we get more done. There are other times of day when we can’t seem to peel ourselves off the couch. These time periods aren’t necessarily obvious to us, so we think we are going to get all those digital photos organized at a time when the only pictures we have the energy to look at are funny cat shots online.

If we know what level of productivity we’re capable of at a certain time, we can plan accordingly and also take steps that can help us move up a level–like from the couch to a desk chair.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the article on Productive Flourishing. Download a free blank heat map to identify your peak productive times. Rearrange your schedule and plan your work to take advantage of your hot spots.

Click here to see how heatmapping worked for me.

If you would like to win a free Premium GTDAgenda account for a year, please comment with why you’re interested by 9/6/13. 

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

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