How to Gamify Your Work Life
By Andrew Tipp
You are a professional dude. Or lady dude. You basically like what you do, and want to be awesome at your job. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes work doesn’t get done. Tasks are abandoned. Projects go unfinished.
It’s often because you get distracted. You get bored. Sometimes work feels like a drag, especially the mundane stuff. Can you make your professional world a more exciting place? Is there a way to make work more compelling?
There is. And it’s called gamification.
The idea of gamifying experiences to make them more interesting, engaging and productive has basically been around forever. We encounter it every day. Every time we collect stamps to ‘win’ a free coffee or hit shops on a specific day to ‘unlock’ a special deal, we are participating in gamification.
But how can this concept apply to professional life? By focusing on the game mechanics that keep us playing a game – like collecting coins, winning badges, topping leaderboards – we can make non-game situations more compelling.
So what game dynamic ideas could work for work? Here are a few suggestions…
1. Send applications on optimal days
To become amazing in a professional role, you first need to have a professional role. Applying for jobs can be tough, but you need to stay motivated. Crucially, you need to make yourself apply for positions on the most effective days, which are Mondays.
So read up on everything you need to know about creating an amazing professional profile, then incentivise yourself to get those applications sent out on Mondays. You can do this by using the Appointment dynamic, and reward yourself with double treats – coffee, cakes, whatever – for the rest of the week.
2. Use progress bars to get tasks done
Never-ending lists of tasks don’t get done. And if they do, they get done slowly. Because working through never-ending lists saps your motivation.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Next time you have a huge list of tasks – emails to send, calls to make, work to review – utilise the Progression dynamic to produce progress bars for different kinds of tasks. It’s much better to absorb the amount of progress you’ve made visualised – the incremental improvements will motivate you.
3. Reward project completion with badges or trophies
In most jobs a typical month will have some chunky bits of work that are too big to be categorised as ‘tasks’. So use the Achievement dynamic to reward yourself with unique badges or trophies whenever you complete any kind of project.
These can be physical or digital, it doesn’t matter. The crucial thing is that you have some kind of tangible private recognition that means something to you. At the end of each month you can smile to yourself as you count up all the fun badges you’ve earned for yourself.
4. Generate a leaderboard to benchmark yourself
Most people work alongside peers – people doing similar role, or perhaps even the same one. Whatever your level of competitiveness, benchmarking yourself against your colleagues can be a useful way of understanding your performance level.
This idea incorporates the Pride dynamic – if you see yourself climbing the team leaderboard you’ll feel motivated to keep rising. As with the other ideas, this doesn’t have to be a public concept. You can keep the metrics and rankings to yourself.
5. Create statuses for your internal company position
Every company has job titles, org charts and a hierarchy. But on top of that tangible structure is the Meta game – whose professional stock is low right now? Who’s flavour of the month?
By being observant, talking to people and involving yourself in the inner workings of your organisation you can determine where you stand in the wider company landscape. Track this with the Status dynamic by creating your own status within the company. For names draw inspiration from video games, pop culture or whatever you like.
6. Give yourself a boost for making the drinks
Even the simplest or laborious behaviour can be gamified. Give yourself a periodic status or leaderboard boost by using the Fixed Ratio Reward dynamic, e.g. every 10 coffees you make for the team gives you a status level-up.
As with all the ideas, tailor this approach to be challenging but worth actually doing for the reward it offers.
7. Award yourself with virtual items for one-off achievements
Sometimes things will pop up that are outside usual tasks and projects. When you ace one of these, use the Virtual Items dynamic to reward yourself with some cool items you keep collected somewhere.
These could be treats that you could eventually ‘redeem’ in the real world, like pizza, wine, clothes or magazines. You could keep them in a virtual folder and ‘cash in’ on your rewards when you need a boost.
8. Penalise yourself for poor performance
What goes up can also go down. It’s important to have penalties – the threat of status or reward loss is a big motivator.
Using the Disincentive dynamic you can ‘fine’ yourself for poor performance. Missing deadlines, arriving late, leaving tasks incomplete and even getting a drinks order wrong could all lead to a downgraded status, dropped leaderboard ranking or loss of achievement badges!
About the author: Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor working in digital publishing. He’s written for a range of online publications on digital culture, and he’s interested in web trends, geek news and how technology is changing our everyday lives.