A few years ago I worked as a waitress in a pub in Boston. It was a busy place with no cash registers and no calculators. Everything was added up in our heads and jotted down on our notepads. It was a very fast pace and could be stressful at times but we all managed to keep up. My favorite way to keep up was to make it into a game.
Some months earlier I had come across one of those games in which you run a bakery or a restaurant and have to complete customer orders before your time runs out. Failure to do so leads to lots of yelling, and success leads to money. This was the perfect gaming model for my waitressing job.
Turning the whole thing into a game completely wiped out the stress factor and motivated me to earn more and more cash. The better a waitress I was, the more I was rewarded in tips. I was running around scooping cash off tables and every time I got a good tip, DING DING DING, I had achieved a high score. Thinking about my job in this manner made it more fun, and increased my nightly income by over 30%. It turns out customers like a waitress who looks like she’s having a good time.
When I left that job to pursue my career in marketing I carried the gaming model with me. Setting up my own business meant I now had clients instead of customers, but the model still fit, with some modifications. Now, doing a good job brings me more than just cash, it also earns me reputation & skill points. Each time I reach a certain number of points, I level up. Leveling up can be anything from raising my prices to buying a better computer, anything that allows me to grow my business.
Gamifying my work-life has worked so well that I now apply it to everything. Sometimes I imagine I’m one of those little Sims characters with their need’s statuses displayed on the bottom. It reminds me to take care of my own needs like getting enough sleep, spending time with friends, and taking a break from work.
I would urge anybody who’s feeling stressed out, or whose life is getting a little too serious for them, to gamify it. Make it fun, reward yourself, and challenge yourself to do better. When you mess up during a game you don’t give up, you just try harder to get that high score. Take this approach to life and you’ll be a winner in no time.
Guest post by Emer Kelly