Why I Don’t Use Gamifying Productivity Apps Anymore
Indeed why? Not so long ago I was obsessed with gamifying my life, it was, essentially, the main topic of this blog. Apparently, the only constant in one’s life is change and so I, too, have been struck by the enigmatic force to transform. Ok, perhaps not so dramatically.
To Log or Not to Log?
So what are the reasons you might want to use these gamifying/ productivity apps in the first place? Well for me, the biggest factor was to motivate myself. I thought by introducing game elements into my daily life, I’d want to do the dreadful tasks that were so off-putting, I’d better my skills and I’d ultimately love myself and my life more. Yep, totally normal, right?
1. QUEST LOGGING (aka To-do Lists)
Every hero has their all-knowing Quest Log – list of all the heroic deeds to do, innocents to rescue and monsters to slay. It is a place that guides hero’s every move and an archive of what has been achieved already. (Un)fortunately in life, we don’t have one – well, unless you write it yourself. If you do, you’ll have your very own ‘book’ to guide you through the perils of life and remind you of what’s important to you (that’s the idea anyway).
Quest-logging or writing to-do lists, whatever you wanna call it, has stopped working for me, (and I realised that) quite recently.
To add that I want to, for example, write a book, and make it a few-step process that I could schedule up right now does not make any sense to me because I have no way of knowing how it will play out, what will the exact steps be and not at all the timing of it. You never know what will unfold, you have no way of knowing it from your limited perspective so why worry and try to plan things out?
It used to take me so much time just sitting and typing my to-do lists, trying to figure out how will I do things. And then I didn’t have time or energy to actually do anything about it! I used to just dreamily look at my quest log without still knowing what to do exactly because I didn’t even know it when I wrote it. It was all just theoretical.
You never know what will unfold, you have no way of knowing it from your limited perspective so why worry and try to plan things out?
I guess I’m starting to act upon the belief that Universe knows better what’s best for me and is constantly guiding me towards it. I just need to allow it. Planning and rigidly sticking to the plan is not allowing. Thinking about ways of achieving something is not allowing. Going with the flow of things and following your bliss and inspiration is.
It will all come naturally. Even with my blog, I had all these to-dos but now I’m going with the flow and it’s kinda working (so far). I just get inspired to set up a newsletter or to write an article and I do it. Instead of following some plan or schedule and make myself do it, I go with the flow and inspiration.
I still use Wunderlist for capturing ideas but I do not write ‘plans of actions’ anymore and I’m not trying to figure it all out with my brain.
2. LEVELING UP (aka Progressing and Rewards)
Upon completing a task, the hero gets points or a reward of some description. When he’s collected enough points, he gets to level up which means more rewards and loot. Basically, something to look forward to and strive for. This is the gist of it and in theory a perfect motivation tool.
The leveling up is not as satisfactory as it is in games thus not as motivating in the first place. Some apps have rewards in the form of loot or other goodies for the app itself which is mostly pointless. In others, you can add your own rewards which is like playing a game with yourself (you know, like playing chess for both white and black?).
You are essentially fooling yourself, doing tasks to “gain” a reward which you have to pay for or you’d do anyway. Putting rewards like ‘Watching an episode of Games of Thrones’, or ‘Going for a nice dinner’ seems totally bonkers to me.
One, it’s like you need an excuse to buy yourself something nice or do something you actually enjoy. Two, what kind of reward is it if you have to pay for it yourself? And three, it encourages people to just add superfluous tasks to their to-do so they can cross it off and gain the rewards (drinking water, anyone)? Who are you kidding?
On the other hand, if it really gets you to get some work done, fair play. This is just my own experience and opinion, after all.
It’s like you need an excuse to buy yourself something nice or do something you actually enjoy.
Because I am starting to believe that life is to enjoy, I’m making sure I do more enjoyable things and make myself feel good. I don’t (or try not to) put conditions upon the rewards like “After I write this article, I get to game for 2 hours.” That would only create more resistance and disgust toward doing the first thing. I’d rather do it because I want to and I love to. (Plus the whole time I’d just be thinking about the reward and wouldn’t do a good job anyway.)
3. SKILL TREE (aka Skill Monitoring)
A hero without a skill tree is like an empty shell. Such hero would not know what he can do and how to dispose of an enemy. He would not know what to take pride in and really, his whole identity might fall apart. The idea of skill trees is to see our progress and betterment, making our way to the ‘awesome’ visible.
How do we get to track our abilities in the best way possible? How to build such an accurate ‘tree’ depicting how well can we handle different tasks? By tracking the time spent on the task, of course!
At first, I wrote myself a system of leveling up (e.g. 10 hours = level 1, 20 hours = level 2, etc.). I couldn’t find an app for this for a while until I stumbled upon the Raise the Bar app. I still had to manually put the numbers, mind you, but finally had the progress bar!
In order to really progress, I have to be doing the right practice, but it’s not always like that. I can be writing an article for 4 hours and I can be learning Spanish for half an hour and there’s no objective way to say how much I progressed in each. Trying to systemize something so loose and subjective seems almost pointless to me as much as I love to see the progress on different skills I’m learning.
At the end, the satisfaction did not mirror the effort put in the tracking. It didn’t make me feel like it accurately captured my abilities, and looking at the progress bars didn’t connect with anything in me. But I guess, that’s the point – we cannot really belittle our skills into numbers and graphs. We are many variables put together, and life just is not as ordered as any system we can ever come up with.
Trying to systemize something so loose and subjective seems almost pointless to me as much as I love to see the progress on different skills I’m learning.
Right now, I am starting to test the Mastery app, but have not been tracking my skills for a while, and it’s fine. If the joy outweighs the ‘work’ connected with logging the time spent on each skill, I will do it again. In the meanwhile, I enjoy gamified learning apps like Duolingo, Memrise and Yousician.
So, to log or not to log? That is ultimately up to you. I am one who was crazy about these things just a few months ago and now look at me. I’d love to hear your opinion on using these apps in the comments. Are you using any of these or other gamifying/ productivity apps, and why/ why not?
Write you later 😉