Game On: How to use gamification to buy yourself more time

Game on says that the phrase “buy time” means to increase the time available for a specific purpose. So, I guess, I really can show you how to buy some time—literally and figuratively.

No, you’ll never have more than your 24 hours each day as none of us really can, but frequently we squander our time too liberally. Around that idea, I can show you how to buy some of it back.

First, find and activity where you know your time is sucked from you like gravity in a black hole… for me it’s social media nonsense (not the marketing piece but just reading various articles and blogs, seeing what my friends and family are up to, meandering without purpose or value creation).

Then, identify something you know you should do like making cold calls or doing some push-ups.

Then buy your time by doing the things you should do first in exchange for a trade of the guilty pleasure you want to do but it typically doesn’t give you any return on your investment.

For example, you want to watch your favorite Amazon Prime series (I really loved Red Oaks) for 22 minutes, before you do, buy that time from yourself with 22 push-ups*. Or you want to check Facebook during business hours, buy 10 minutes of social media time from yourself with an equal number of cold-calls.

Sure, it’s a little cheesy. But gamification works! Just Google it to see the apps, stories, heck, even business built on the idea of tricking our stubborn, human selves into having a little fun in order to do the things we need to do.

Discipline doesn’t mean that we never have fun, or down time, or ROI-less moments; simply it means we choose those things after we have earned them—or in this case, bought them.


*Play around with the numbers, some numbers might seem too low—like 22 pushups (which takes about one minute); or too high—like 10 cold calls (which takes about an hour if done correctly). Maybe 5 pushups buys each minute or each cold call buys you two minutes. Be reasonable with yourself; challenge but don’t overwhelm. What’s important to keep in mind is the consciousness of the trade (rather than lapsing into binge- watching or binge-surfing) and the trap of doing the important, value creation activities first.

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