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How to Use Gamification to Advance Your Career

The growth of technology and connectivity has made our world an interactive playground, where the lines between the real and the digital are becoming ever more blurred. This is exemplified by an emerging trend called "gamification"--an interesting experiment that interweaves concepts from the world of gaming into manifestly non-gaming situations.

Gamification takes principles that were originally designed purely for entertainment and leisure and cleverly re-appropriates them to meet completely different objectives--particularly in the areas of business and personal development. Put simply, it means you can treat aspects of your personal and professional life like a game, and enjoy increased performance and productivity as a result.

See Also: Gamification of the Workplace:Gimmick or Great Idea?

Gamification can work for employees, entrepreneurs and freelancers alike, so whether you want to get ahead in your career, grow your business, or attract and impress new clients, read on to find out how it’s done:

1. Understand the Concept

The idea of gamification can be a bit fuzzy, so it’s a good idea to try to understand exactly what it is and what you’re trying to achieve with it. If you play video games, you’ll already know some of the techniques used to motivate players and improve their performance. But with that said, you don’t have to be a gamer to benefit from gamification.

Video games developers use very particular strategies to capture the player’s attention, keep it, and push them to work toward a goal--be it finishing the game, collecting all the treasure or getting the best score/time. When you "gamify" something, you’re simply taking these same strategies and transplanting them into a real-world situation to help you achieve real-world goals.

It’s already used in business, education and even the military to get employees engaged in their work and to improve their performance. All it takes is a little creativity and imagination, and you can adapt the concept to achieve your own personal goals and objectives.

2. Offer Yourself Some Incentives

Video games offer the player big rewards for achieving set goals. When you beat the game or clear a level, you might unlock new characters, powerful equipment or progress the story further. If you can build incentives like this into your work and career, you’ll find yourself working harder to get ahead.

To do this, set goals and deadlines for your work, and then offer yourself rewards for completing the work on time. Got a work project that needs to be completed by the end of the week? Promise yourself you’ll go out for ice-cream or a trip to the cinema if you get it done. Want to pitch your SEO services to at least 30 prospective clients this month? Give yourself a $100 shopping trip if you meet your quota, and you’ll be bashing those emails out like there’s no tomorrow.

The incentives you choose will be a matter of personal preference, and they don’t always have to cost you money--a long walk on the beach is free, and might be just what you need after a hard week’s work. You can incentivise any goal or task, big or small--you’re only limited by your own creativity.

3. Develop a "Points" System

Most games incorporate some form of scoring system, where players accumulate points for completing tasks or collecting treasure. Sometimes, these points can be traded to unlock new characters or buy items. Other times, the need to accumulate as many points as possible is incentive enough for the player to keep collecting.

We already see points systems used to good effect in supermarket loyalty cards, where points can be traded for rewards or coupons. This encourages customers to return or spend more, and it works very well. But how can you use this to advance your career?

Well, try assigning points to every work task you need to complete and then offer a range of rewards you can "trade" them for. The more difficult or laborious the task, the more points you should assign. Here’s a simple example of how that might look for a freelance writer:

  • Get up to alarm without hitting snooze - 50 points
  • Complete article outline - 100 points
  • Deliver final draft of article - 300 points
  • Pitch 10 clients - 500 points

Set out a range of rewards, and give them a points "cost." For example:

  • 100 points - buy a chocolate bar
  • 500 points - play Xbox for 2 hours
  • 1500 points - take a half-day off

Again, the tasks and rewards will be specific to your own circumstances and preferences, so think about how you can use them effectively and tweak the system as you go. It can get addictive pretty quickly, but that’s the point--the more you engage with the system, the more productive you’ll be.

4. Try "Time-Attack" Mode

If you’ve ever played games yourself, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the concept of "time-attack." Put simply, the objective is to complete a task or level within a certain time-frame, or to achieve the best time possible.

Can you see where I’m going with this? You got it--apply "time-attack mode" to the real-world, and you can get more work done in less time. Set a timer before you start a task, and try to beat the clock. This will come down to trial and error at first, as you try to figure out how long it will take.

The time-attack technique is particularly effective if you’re prone to writer’s block or if you’re a bit of a procrastinator--it really lights a fire under your ass and gets you moving. For tasks you repeat regularly, you can try to beat your personal best each time. Give it a go--the results can be impressive!

5. Go Multiplayer

Most modern games give you the opportunity to pit your skills against other players, either on the same machine or around the world via the Internet. As a gamer myself, I can tell you that nothing helps improve your game and push your skills further and faster than multiplayer gaming.

So how can you incorporate this into your work and career? Simple--invite a friend or colleague to join you in some friendly competition. Pick a task that’s common to both of you, and see who can get the most done within a certain timeframe.

As an example, let’s say you work in a call centre. Compete with a colleague to see who can answer the most customers by morning break, with the loser buying a coffee for the winner. Competition will push you farther than you ever thought possible, just make sure you pick someone you know to be a good sport and keep it friendly!

6. Track Your Achievements

Achievements and trophies are a feature of modern games--they acknowledge milestones that the player has successfully passed and allow them to look back over their progress. Whenever we acknowledge past achievements, it gives us a sense of pride and self-belief, as well as the motivation to keep going.

So it makes perfect sense to use this concept in your working life. Keep a chart of your progress as you work on your goals. Every time you complete a task, add it to your list of achievements so you can keep track of how much you’ve already accomplished. For maximum effect, print out or create a big chart and pin it up at your desk or in your home office.

Whenever you find your motivation or self-belief lapsing, look over your achievements and give yourself a hearty pat on the back. Then get going again and add more accomplishments to the list.

See Also: How to Get Paid to Play Video Games

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This is just a snapshot of how you can use gamification to advance your career. Again, it’s not so much a set of techniques as a general concept.

The idea is to study the principles found in gaming that keep players motivated to improve, and to apply these principles to the real-world. So use your imagination, experiment, and see how you can use gamification to level-up your own career!

Have you "gamified" any aspect of your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments below:

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