I’m sure we’ve all heard the stereotype about how gamers are lazy and unproductive people who never go outside and play games all day. (While I think there is nothing wrong with that, our society would beg to differ. Just remember you are all worthy no matter your fitness or productivity level.) However, I will argue that contrary to popular belief, gaming has actually helped to make me a more productive and motivated person. Here’s how:
1. The self-bribe
Gaming is obviously something that I enjoy, so first there is the basic self-bribe. I often reward myself by taking some time to game after I get an important task done. I know this doesn’t work for everybody because I’ve suggested it to many people and they’ll say, “But I’ll just start playing before I get it done.” It does work for me, though, so I will keep suggesting it because I’m sure it will work for someone else out there!
2. Breaking up tasks into smaller pieces
Even more than that, gaming taught me to break down bigger tasks into pieces that can be accomplished. I feel overwhelmed and anxious easily, and when looking at a big task to do, I’ll start to feel like I can never get it done. It has caused issues in my life where I’ll keep putting off something important just because it seems too hard.
However, I’m learning how to deal with that. Just like a quest log in an RPG, I’ll have a larger goal I want to accomplish that can be broken down into smaller tasks. That makes any goal seem so much more achievable and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. I literally write down in my planner what my objectives are for the day. And if I don’t meet all or any of them, that’s okay! Tomorrow is another day and another chance to get something done. I had always been told to break things up in this way in order to get things done, but gaming actually showed me examples of how to do so. I really understand how to do it now.
3. Staying motivated at work
I will admit, I don’t always like my current jobs. I don’t want to sound too ungrateful, but neither of them are what I thought I would do and have nothing to do with what I want for my future. This makes it quite hard to stay motivated, especially when a lot of what I have to do seems pointless. So I’ll quietly pretend to myself that I have to go on a fetch quest or something like that. It just makes everything a little more fun to pretend that I must complete whatever task for a reason besides “I have to do this thing because it’s part of my job.” I feel more motivated when I can pretend there is some bigger purpose for my tasks.
4. Staying motivated to exercise
Gaming also helps me stay motivated to work out. Through much experimentation, I’ve figured out that I can function a lot better with regular exercise. It drastically reduces my anxiety and anger levels. I have found apps that turn working out into sort of a game really help me stay motivated. I use Fitocracy, which assigns point values to the exercises you record and allows you to level up once you earn a certain number of points.
I also use Zombies, Run! This is an app that puts you into a story during a zombie apocalypse, and you are a runner who has to go out and find supplies for your base. One of the best things about it is that you don’t even have to run—walking works just fine, too, so you don’t have to be into running to use it. I also like to imagine that I’m in an RPG, and by doing various forms of exercise, I’m adding to my strength, endurance, and/or dexterity.
5. Pushing myself to try new things
As I’ve mentioned, I have some anxiety issues, which makes me fear trying new things and putting myself into social situations. I find I can cope more easily if I think of trying new things and putting myself out there as something that will earn me experience. In a way, it’s true, just not quantifiable the way it is in a game. But practice does make perfect, and by making myself practice, I’ve gotten better at talking to people and dealing with my anxiety.
While I know that everyone is motivated by different things, I hope that my tips will be helpful to any readers out there. Some people may find it strange that I have to think of my life as a game just to get through it, but we all have our own coping mechanisms and I hope sharing mine can help someone. Just remember that your worth does not depend on how much you can get done.