When I stop to think about it, it might sound a bit quirky, but I’ve got this genuine love – I mean, seriously, it’s a whole lot of love – for gamification. And if you’re scratching your head wondering what that is, it’s all about tackling tasks within an app or website and getting rewarded, just like in your favorite games.

Let me give you an example that tickled my fancy. I decided to give Noom a shot, and they let me set a goal for how many glasses of water I’d down in a day. Every time I polished off an 8 oz glass, I’d tap the screen, and voilà, an on-screen glass filled up, signifying my triumph in that little “challenge.”

I reckon my lifelong obsession with video games has hardwired me to go the extra mile to earn those digital bonuses. Gamification, you see, hits that sweet spot for me.

But here’s the thing: it’s a two-way street. Sometimes, it’s the bee’s knees. Take, for instance, my Duolingo adventure – I’ve been at it for a whopping 627 days straight. There’s this delightful collection of badges I’ve been gunning for, and after putting in the hours, I finally scored big. Just a few weeks back, while I was gallivanting in Spain, I found myself surprisingly confident in understanding the language, thanks in no small part to Duolingo’s playful approach.

Now, before I get carried away singing the praises of gamification, there’s a bit of a downside too. This week, I set a daily mission to bring my lunch to work. Technically, I’ve held my own, but then came Monday – National Quesadilla Day, according to the Chipotle app. And they had a badge up for grabs if you ordered their famous quesadilla. Well, let’s say that night, I caved.

I mean, honestly, who can resist chasing that little digital badge?

Oh, and here’s a nifty trick that’s become my secret weapon. Take the concept of gamification and marry it with a trusty old calendar. Say you’ve got something you think would be a game-changer if you did it daily, like a pleasant stroll around the block. On that first day you complete your walk, go ahead and slap a big, bold “X” on your calendar. Keep doing it every day, marking another “X.” Before you know it, you’ve got this delightful chain of “X”s stretching out, and the name of the game becomes not breaking that chain.

You’d be surprised how your mind starts seeing it as a game, and suddenly, even the mundane becomes much more fun.

By Sam Watson

I'm pretty good at Microsoft Excel but a freak in Google Sheets.

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