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I'm currently working out a way to gamify my daily work / life. I want to reward myself via a points system, assigning points to tasks I should do but tend to neglect.

These are things like paying invoice in a timely manner and answering important emails but also things I want to do, but never get around to, like working out from time to time.

As I'm the only "judge" I also work on way to prevent that I game the system, but this isn't a real problem for me because I tend to be objective and don't think I'll cheat myself.

Also, I don't want to tie the system to any specific task-management application (like EpicWin for iPhone)

Have you tried something like this?

Did it work out?

Any input?

Thanks everyone for their answers! I hadn't time to really work out a good system for me so far. So far I use a software (producteev) to manage tasks from everywhere and decide on point value on task creation. I also have daily tasks of calculating daily score and all. Points add to a score value that actually results in a budget for stuff I can buy for myself. per 100 points I can spend 1€. This way t improves my motivation while also limiting my spend-all-my-money-instead-of-saving-it personality.

Follow-Up 2: Here's a great talk by Jonathan Guerrera on the topic!

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I am also looking for something like this. Fitocracy( is good to take care of fitness aspect.Very well made site – SandeepR Apr 5 '12 at 6:50
To be honest, this question sounds like it is too vague and discussiony – Casebash Apr 5 '12 at 7:35
@Casebash Thanks, I'll try to make it more specific later today. – Morothar Apr 5 '12 at 11:21
There is also Chore Wars – Joshua Drake Apr 5 '12 at 21:30
@Tool I agree, as gamification comes with all drawbacks of an extrinsic motivator. But as there is no intrinsic motivation for said tasks it is a valid option. Also keep in mind that the target is to build your own rat maze, training yourself in things you don't like to do. It's a way to make work you hate to do a bit more tolerable. :) – Morothar Aug 13 '13 at 10:11

13 Answers 13

up vote 34 down vote accepted

I have come up with a game system for helping me complete chores, errands, etc.

Every chore/errand is a 'task'. Tasks are rated 1-3 in four categories: Monetary Cost, Time to Complete, Difficulty and Benefit for Completion. Rate 1 if 'easy', 2 if 'medium' and 3 if 'hard' or 'very hard'.

Then, each task is rated 'Bronze', 'Silver', 'Gold' or 'Platinum' depending on the priority of completing the Task.

I use a spreadsheet to keep track of my Tasks. The spreadsheet also calculates the following equation:

  • Find the Average of the values for Cost, Time, Difficulty & Benefit
  • Divide by 3
  • Add +0 if 'Bronze', +1 if 'Silver', +2 if 'Gold' or +4 if 'Platinum' to the final score

This final score is considered 'Points Earned'. As you complete various Tasks, you'll accumulate more points.

How you decide to spend those points is up to you. For me, I considered each point worth 1 hour of video game playing (as that is something I find entertaining).

In conclusion, it is a system that rewards you for completing priority Tasks (and not just collecting points by achieving a large number of small Tasks). You will earn 1 point for three 'easy' tasks, one 'easy' and one 'medium' task or one 'hard' task.

The "carrot at the end of the stick" offered is something you should enjoy and want to work hard at achieving.

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I like this approach. You made a simple formla to calculate the points rewarded for doing a task. My problem would be that I'd still not do some tasks I really don't like. I'd be earning lots of points by doing complicated and beneficial stuff while not doing those important things I simply don't like much, like writing invoices or answering mails from (some) clients. Because of that I'd like to add another variable into your formula that somehow reflects the importance/hate ratio of the task. – Morothar Apr 15 '12 at 8:16
@Morothar, perhaps a penalty system that will actually hurt your score, or take away part of your carrot if a task is not completed on time. A small penalty or relatively unimportant tasks, and a larger one for important ones. (Don't do my taxes on time? No bonus for a while.) – smdrager Apr 16 '12 at 20:45

So there are resources like

But I gamify in a very simply way… I have this - stress plot

The graph shows the size of my todo list, it's updated by a cron script every half hour and it's publicly viewable. Tasks that have been in the inbox (I use the same inbox for incoming mail and for tasks) for more than a week are the red line, more than three days the purple and more than 24 hours the green (the blue is the 'current' state and includes all the tasks triggered by calendar actions and emails to reply to… The game is to make the graph smaller - it's very simple but it's remarkably effective for me.

Following some comments for method - I use a modified version of getmail to generate files like

34 2012-01-21 1327152611 5 16 10
32 2012-01-21 1327154411 5 14 9
32 2012-01-21 1327156209 5 14 9
34 2012-01-21 1327158012 5 14 9
34 2012-01-21 1327159808 5 15 9
34 2012-01-21 1327161611 5 15 9
34 2012-01-21 1327163406 5 15 9
33 2012-01-21 1327165211 5 13 9
34 2012-01-21 1327167011 5 13 9
31 2012-01-21 1327168810 4 12 8

(left to right this is, current size of inbox, date, seconds since epoch, emails older than 7 days, emails older than 24 hours, and emails older than 3 days. I then put it though a matlab script (although I'd like it to be an R script) as follows…

I then use this Matlab code:

load ~/emailAnalysis/results.txt
temp = results(:,3)-1238370000;
ylim([0 80])
hold on
title('Size of inbox over time (seven days)')
print -r3000 -djpeg /XXXX/inbox7day.jpeg
hold off

to generate the graphs - both matlab and getmail code run as a cron job every half out on my webserver.

EDIT AGAIN - for interest, there is also the 'inbox-zero' version for incoming emails... enter image description here

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I guess the worry I have with this is that it isn't just about getting tasks done, but about getting important tasks done. Also, tasks can be marked as "done" if you procrastinate enough that completing the task becomes pointless – Casebash Apr 10 '12 at 12:26
I'm not sure I understand the second part, but I can certainly tell you about the first part. When I just had the one line it was possible (and occasionally happened) to feel productive by just doing the incoming things and avoiding the big things at the bottom. I introduced the red line so that it was obvious (to me and others) when there were tasks I'm avoiding… ("Book skydive" had stayed there for months) Also I can 'age' tasks that are important or due soon manually and that helps deal with the importance angle. The key thing is that everything gets done and nothing is forgotten... – Joe Apr 10 '12 at 13:43
That's a nice way to visualize your ToDo list. But it's not really gamification with points, score, etc. Note that I don't consider that this isn't a game for you or others. But I do actually want to get rewarded with points, having a score, etc. Still +1 to you. – Morothar Apr 15 '12 at 8:25
Would you mind to share your script here? I suppose it's some kind of gnuplot magic glued together by shell scripts? – 0x6d64 Apr 16 '12 at 11:34
will do my best... – Joe Apr 16 '12 at 13:48

Oh just thought of something unrelated to previous answer

I wrote up a full version on my blog, but I summerise below :)

I'd like to be able to get up early, but I don't really have anyone to be accountable to for this. So I advertised on gumtree (I think craiglist is the equivalent in the US) for someone who was also competitive and wants to wake up early. The rules we have are this.

We each must email each other before 7.10am in the morning, every day except Sunday. If one of us is late, or misses an email due sleeping in, they get a 'late point'. At the end of the month, the person with the most late points gives £10 to a charity chosen by the other, and the scores are reset. We've been doing this for about eight months and it's been a really good way of setting up competition… at some point when I need a project to learn the twitter api I'll build the funcationality into a twitterbot...

EDIT - for an update - this has evolved into also sending over the 'must do' list everyday - quite good for personal accountability.

EDIT - again, following another answer I gave elsewhere, I've dropped this approach and no longer attempt to get up any earlier than natural (unless I have a genuine commitment), will let you know how this goes in another post. Third edit - and this is how it went:

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I love this. Think I might advertise for someone as well, brilliant idea. :) – annelie Oct 9 '12 at 4:01
Brilliant idea! – eflat Jul 2 '13 at 21:39

How about Habitica?

I've been using it for a day so far, and I really like the idea and interface. They now have an official Android app.

I would like to see this app expanded to be more detailed and game-like, but so far, off to a good start.

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HabitPRG + Pomodoro works well for me. – number5 Sep 11 '14 at 23:21

Pomodorium - a Pomodoro technique based RPG-game.

enter image description here Pomodorium is an attempted gamification of the Pomodoro technique.

The idea of Pomodorium is to use rules of role-playing game in the Pomodoro technique.

It's a Pomodoro technique timer with a game. For every completed pomodori you get 'gold' and there is game character - you buy him/her armors/weapons for this gold. There is a map you can travel through and fight monsters and level-up.

More detailed information how to play could be found in Pomodoro technique RPG style.

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+1, although it is self-advertisement. :) – Morothar Aug 9 '12 at 4:56

Check out - you can modify the 'chores' to be your own tasks - and then you progress through the stages / game.

Note - I have no affiliation with chorewars - I just like it.

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There was a similar thread on Ask Metafilter a while back. This answer in particular had some good links.

The Habit Judo project no longer seems operational, but it does have an interesting approach. The random rewards element makes it particularly interesting.

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I use RescueTime to keep track of my time spent on my PC. It also keeps track of my time away from the PC and lets me enter a category when I get back to my PC.

It lets me set categories for the apps I use and sites I visit, with a level of productivity for each category.

It compares my "productivity" to all their users. And has real time reporting.

Only downside is the $5/month :)

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I have also been looking for something to spice up work, and make me feel challeged and make all completing tasks more fun. I find giving my self rewards and punishments for completing or not completing my goals helps motivate me.

I originally tried superbetter but did not enjoy the UI. I have used the trello platform for a while now at work. Its not bad but there is no gamification.

I recently found redcritter which is like trello but gamified.

Both Platforms are great, but feel they are slightly complicated and I am looking for a more basic game like platform.

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Duolingo does a pretty good job a gamifying language learning. I have made a few observations on what I believe are some basic principals that keep me engaged when playing a video game. You are free to disagree with whatever I state.

  1. Reward effort but do not punish failure-By punishing failure you tend to become averse to risk and the game becomes less fun. In games the worst thing that usually happens when you fail a task is that you just start over from the last save point. Imagine if you had to start the game completely over after putting 4 hours into the game? Most people would quit.

  2. Multiple long term and short term goals-Short term goals are the tangible goals that are within your reach and always keep you motivated. Long term goals are what keep you motivated to continue doing the short term goals.

  3. Try to get constant feedback-By this I mean you should have a way of knowing instantly if what you are doing is right or wrong. An example of non-feedback is when you do your homework. You don't really know you are doing anything wrong until it is finished and you turn it in. Instant feedback would be practicing the piano. As soon as you hit a wrong key you hear a wrong note and adjustments can be made at that time. Video games work in a similar way.

  4. There should be uncertainty in success-If you get a task right all the time you will get bored of it. If you fail all the time you will give up. But now think about gambling, you are rewarded randomly for doing the exact same thing every time. This uncertainty in winning is what keeps people gambling because they are always thinking "maybe I'll get it this time"

  5. Track overall progress-Seeing what you have already accomplished gives you a sense of pride and you want to continue what you are doing. Try not to compare your progress with someone else since it might demotivate you.

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I suspect that putting too much effort in gamifying your daily work would be a waste. I strongly recommend you try the Pomodoro Technique, which is game-like, simple, fun, and personally I find it even a bit addictive.

Take an hour to read the free eBook, it's only 30 pages long.

If you don't have a kitchen timer, use this app, or one of the many other Pomodoro-softwares.

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Sadly, Pomodoro just doesn't work for me. It's a mix of my personality, having programming tasks to do (that benefit from being in the zone for as long as needed/possible), and other factors. – Morothar Aug 9 '12 at 4:54
Looks like ebook is no more free. :( – Bunyk Oct 27 '15 at 10:12 has a gamification system based on a Karma score. It is a very nice GTD style task management system with good phone and web based interfaces. I have been using it for a few years, but the authors seem to be on a roll lately adding new features. Worth checking out.

Trying to invent something for this (and then not endlessly tweak it) seems like an anti-productive route to me. Find something reasonable and stick with it.

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Recently I have read a nice article "Life is a game. This is your strategy guide". The main point of game - is managing hunger, willpower and other parameters of your body.

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