2 minute read

making it fun

Everybody has something they want to get done. Sometimes we have a lot.

Today, for example, when I got up and checked my list of things to get done, it numbered over 30. Some of those are “it would be nice to do” (7 of them), while the vast majority were “due today”. Some of them are smaller, like stretching, while others involve things like “edit blog post” or “record podcast”. One of the things that helps motivate me is that I reward myself when I achieve certain goals.

Other times, I want to experience constant improvement in an area and so seeing the amount of times I have accomplished something is a motivator.

In other cases I don’t want to “break the chain” of accomplishment of a specific goal.

And yet, there are times when the number of tasks (36!!) can be overwhelming and a bit discouraging. So how do you make getting these things done fun?

You make it a game.

Whole books and courses revolve around gamification and what makes things fun. I have a number of those books on my shelf and with all the things I have to get done, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to go through the process of creating a game system that would make getting my tasks done in a fun way.

So, today we’ll get started some basic principles in game design and work our way up from there. I’ll also apply these principles to the system I’ll be using to get my tasks done.

Today’s principle is: “The Game Provides an Experience”

The goal of the game is to make doing daily tasks fun. In order to do that there are a couple of key things which need to be accomplished as a person is playing the game.

  1. The player must experience ‘flow’. They should get into the game, and feel like time slows down while they are in the game
  2. When the game is over they should sense of accomplishment after playing. It should be something they feel like boasting to their friends or family.

How do we go about creating that kind of feeling?

In “The Success Principles” Jack Canfield shares the story of Tyler Williams and how his father, Rick, created a “parent’s scorecard” to keep track of how Tyler did in his games. He tracked seven different things that helped the team succeed. In the process he motivated Tyler to help the team improve and do well in their games. As a result Tyler became a better basketball player.

Using this as an example, what are some key statistics which can be used to make getting tasks accomplished each day? Here are the results of my brainstorming session.

  • Total Number of Tasks
  • Tasks Completed
  • Tasks Due Today
  • Due Tasks Completed
  • Optional Tasks
  • Optional Tasks Completed
  • Project/Goal Related Tasks
  • Project/Goal Related Tasks Completed
  • Number of Interruptions
  • Amount of Time a tasks takes to complete
  • Estimated Time for a task
  • Number of Times ‘flow’ Experienced

I’m sure there are other statistics which can be measured. If you can think of some I have missed let me know in the comments below. Using these stats I can then build the game around measuring them and also putting mechanics behind them that could help motivate goal accomplishment.

The photo is “#214/366” by Robert McGoldrick. You can find it on flickr