The Gamification of Habits

Beautiful lilies bathed in sunlightI mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had started using Habit RPG to tackle various tasks that need doing regularly but I don’t particularly enjoy – things like doing the washing up every evening, keeping the flat tidy, studying for at least a couple of hours each day. It’s been working better than I had expected, and the habit of doing 15 minutes of housework is actually becoming tricky to keep on top of, not because I’m not motivated to do it but because I can’t always find 15 minutes worth of things to do! There are only so many times you need to wipe the kitchen counters or vacuum the floor when you live alone.

One of the unexpected side effects of this approach is that I’ve become more productive in other areas too. I have a tendency to get a bit stuck in whatever I’m doing, so once I sit down at my laptop I can easily spend two or three hours there even though I’m not doing anything much. But the incentive of getting more gold or experience points, and the possibility of a random item drop every time I tick something off, means I get up and do a job and then sometimes I pick up my guitar and play for a while, or lie on my (beautifully-made, tidy) bed with a book. If I go out to put a full bin bag in the outside bins, I might carry on walking for a bit, enjoying the weather. This morning I went to the post office to send off some paperwork which has been sat on my to-do list for weeks and while I was out I had a poke around in the charity shops. These are things I enjoy doing but somehow time seems to run out. Or it did before. Now I’m aware of how much I can get done in fifteen minutes and I fit more into my days!

Over the summer I have a bit of work to do towards next year on the midwifery degree but not really enough to fill two hours every day until late September, so I’ve been doing various online courses through edX, FutureLearn and RCM i-learn. At the moment I’m taking a course on behavioural support for young children, and another on approaches to learning. The latter is particularly fascinating and is really making me think about how I study and what motivates me. It’s also confirming things I already felt about how I’d like to educate my own hypothetical children; it turns out that my preferred method of education is called the “individual distributed” approach where the learner decides what they want to learn and how, and is the primary force behind their own education.

And away from all that productivity, this week I’ve been enjoying watching the bunch of beautiful oriental lilies in the picture above slowly opening in the sunshine. They were a gift from Claire, a friend from church whose sons I often babysit for, and they’re making the flat smell lovely!


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