Early in my life as a teacher trainer, I taught teachers how to use behavior modification techniques to improve classroom behaviors. This task involved pinpointing desired student behaviors, eliciting appropriate behaviors, evaluating these behaviors, giving constructive feedback, and providing rewards.
Later in my career, I found these behavior-modification techniques can also be used by managers in the workplace. Still later, I found that these techniques are similar to gamification elements.
With adult employees, it is not necessary to have an outsider to monitor and award points and badges to reward the behavior. We can design self-gamifying activities for people to reward their own behavior. I have been designing self-gamification activities for personal use, primarily to increase brief, specific, and effective habits. Here are some examples of these types of habits:
Learn to tell a story or a joke. Share it with others.
Contact my friends regularly.
Read a book.
Review professional blogs.
Plan my day by spending 10 minutes every morning.
Take a walk every day.
I have shared the structure of the self-gamification activities with my colleagues, friends, and family members. I used them as templates and asked the players to specify target behaviors they want to increase or decrease.
After you read the following gamification activity (called Daily Drill), select a task you want to accomplish (or a habit you want to cultivate). Plug it into the structure of the activity and conduct it for personal development.
Work on a personal task for exactly 5 minutes a day for 5 weeks. Give yourself points for accomplishing the task every day. Increase the daily number of points each week. Your goal is to collect a total of 100 or more points.
Complete the first day’s task. Make sure you work at this for exactly 5 minutes. Stop abruptly at the end of this time and set your product aside.
Last month, I set my task to write an article. On the first day, I typed the beginning sentences of this article for 5 minutes.
Give points for completing the task. Give yourself 1 point for completing the first day’s task without getting distracted. Do not give the point if you did not type for 5 minutes.
Continue the activity. Perform the same task every day. During each of the subsequent weeks, add one more point for completing the daily task. Keep track of the total number of points every day.
No points if you miss a day. Any time during the activity period, if you forget the daily task or do not complete it, you don’t get any points for the day. If you miss two days in a row, you lose all the total points and begin from scratch (Week 1, Day 1) on the next day.
Conclude the game. If you have completed the task, continue improving it. Alternatively, begin working on the next task. Even if you have not completed the task, if your total score is more than 100 points, celebrate the occasion and continue working on the task.
Design Your Own Version
Daily Drill includes elements of a gamification activity: clear goals, points, and levels. It is a self-gamification activity because you regulate, evaluate, and score your own behavior. Think of some habit you to acquire (or get rid of) and create your own version of this activity.