Consider what makes video games and board games fun. Is it the friendly competition? Perhaps it’s the possibility of winning and landing at the top of the leaderboards. Maybe it’s even the simple enjoyment of playing a game.
Now, what if you employed these in-game techniques to complete tasks during your workday?
There are many benefits to gamification in the workplace, ranging from boosted productivity to more employee engagement. You’re translating your favorite parts about games into real life to level up your productivity and focus.
In this article, we’re covering how to use gamification to your advantage and the benefits of this strategy for task management. Let’s jump in.
What is gamification?
Gamification is a productivity strategy used to make complex items on your task list more engaging. You’re turning your tasks into quests or challenges. The result? An entire workday transformed into a productive adventure. It adds game-like elements to your work, rewarding you as you work through projects or your task list.
The goal is to work through your tasks step-by-step while staying focused. The more engaged you are with your tasks, the more productive you’ll be. You’ll wrap up the day feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Gamification works well for individuals with ADHD. ADHDers already have lower dopamine levels than a neurotypical person. Their brains require novelty and frequent stimulation to activate the reward center of their brain. Gamifying tasks helps you stay focused and productive.
The best strategy for gamifying tasks is the one that is going to feel the most rewarding to you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. The good news is that there are several different ways you can gamify work tasks. The trick is recognizing when it’s time to implement the strategy for yourself.
Why should you gamify tasks?
In short, gamification makes the workplace more fun and engaging. We all have tasks we dread doing. They might be repetitive, tedious, or simply less exciting than other work. When you receive rewards for even the smallest accomplishment, your brain gets excited and helps you stay motivated.
If you’re struggling to focus and stay productive, turning your work into a game could be the remedy. Gamification also invites ingenuity into how you work. If you’re trying to get more points or beat your timestamp from yesterday, you may be more likely to find creative solutions to work more efficiently. You’ll feel better while working through your to-do list and stay productive.
3 benefits of task gamification
- Boost engagement
When you have repetitive or complex tasks, getting them off your to-do list can feel like an exhausting chore. The barrier to entry rises when you’re dreading the start of a task. The question is: how do you keep yourself engaged enough to accomplish your task list?
Gamification turns these pesky tasks into rewarding challenges. The reward helps as a motivator, keeping you more engaged and focused. So, you both finish your tasks and get a little reward at the end—it’s a win-win.
- Helps relieve stress
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start your day with a massive task list before you. You might not know where to start or how to prioritize the work, which increases your stress levels. Counter the stress with a game.
Think of how it feels to play a board game with loved ones. There’s a little competition. At the same time, you’re having fun. When you approach tasks like it’s a board game, you’ll win the day by completing your task list. Your brain gets a kick of dopamine, which helps relieve stress resulting in greater focus and engagement.
- Increase productivity and focus
At the core of gamification is a goal to be more productive and focused. It encourages you to work through the tasks you may procrastinate and helps you find creative solutions to how you work. The result is more efficient working practices. This can lead to a better work-life balance and more sustained productivity in the long term.
Gamified tasks foster a spirit of achievement as you work through everyday tasks. It fuels the reward center of your brain, which can inspire creativity and engagement. Staying focused helps you work more efficiently. As a result, you move forward to the next “level,” having checked off tasks.
4 tips for how to gamify work tasks
- Turn large projects into a leveled game
You might've heard of this strategy before—when you have a large and complex project, break it down into smaller tasks to make it more manageable. Now, to gamify your large project, look at each of these tasks as a “level” of the game. If you’re a fan of strategic video or board games, this approach might be particularly fun. You can use it in tandem with another gamification strategy to make it even more exciting.
Set benchmarks throughout the project that represent different levels of a game. If you want to add another gaming element, consider giving yourself a reward once you’ve completed a level. When you get a motivator at the end of each “level,” you can enjoy working through your task list little bits at a time.
- Build a personalized points or reward system
This strategy is effective on its own or with other ones. There are a couple of different approaches you can take. They both accomplish the same thing, albeit through slightly different routes. You might find that one is more enticing or fun than the other. Feel free to lean into one or mix it up.
First, let’s look at building a reward system for yourself. Say you have to respond to 10 emails. Some need more attention than others, but they all need replies. So, here’s what you do: sit down to reply to these emails with a goal. Your reward could be playing with your dog or going for a walk. After you’ve responded to each message, you get the reward.
Alternatively, you can consider a points system to earn your reward. This system works by attaching a reward to achieving a certain number of points. You can collect points on a per-day, per-week, or even per-month basis. Once you hit 150 points, for instance, you can scroll on social media for 30 minutes. If you get 200 points, maybe you get to watch an episode of your favorite TV show. Perhaps your goal is to beat the number of points you scored the day before.
For example, you’ve built a points system that awards you 50 points for replying to the day’s emails and 75 points for completing a portion of a large project. If you complete these tasks, you have 125 points for the day to put toward your rewards.
A strategy like the points system works better for long-term goals. You can gather points as you work toward your quarterly goals and then “spend” the points at the end of that time period. A simple reward system is ideal for daily or weekly goals. Still, you can revise your gamification strategy however works best for you.
- Lean on time tracking and race yourself
How long did it take you to do something? Do you think you could do it a little faster tomorrow? Want to challenge yourself to find out?
Time tracking is an age-old strategy for boosting productivity. The first step is to get your task list organized. It’s also wise to list your tasks based on priority, so there’s no time wasted wondering what you should work on next.
Now set a timer to see how quickly you can work through a set of tasks. This is a working sprint where you’re hyper-focused on getting as much work done as possible. At the end of your sprint, take a break. Make a note of the time stamp and do it again. Document your findings so you can see how you’re becoming more efficient at doing those tasks over time.
The Pomodoro Technique uses a version of this method. You know exactly how much time you need to focus before getting a break or reward. It can help you stay focused on the task at hand when you know a break is approaching.
- Challenge the whole team
A great way to help you stay motivated and focused is by spreading the gamification methodology across your whole organization. Racing yourself and each other can be a fun way to keep everyone engaged. You can employ the reward system to get everyone excited. Try setting a time limit like one month or quarter then seeing how everyone performed during that period of time. The trick is working as efficiently as possible while still doing quality work. Have fun with it, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
Sunsama helps you schedule a day to stay focused and accomplish all your tasks
When you gamify your work tasks, you create an incentive to check off everything on your to-do list. No matter what approach to gamification you take, Sunsama will help you structure all your tasks into a realistic daily schedule.
Use realistic daily goal-setting features to plan a focused and sustainable day. The Pomodoro timer and short break feature help you build regular breaks into your schedule. When you want to fall into a deep workflow, Sunsama will pause your notifications.
Sunsama is in the business of helping you build sustainable work practices that help with long-term productivity. Whether you’re breaking down projects into bite-sized tasks or racing yourself, Sunsama organizes your tasks so you can be as productive as possible.
Give Sunsama a try today to kickstart your productivity.