Monday Motivator: Make a Game of It!

Once a little buddy of mine had thrown all her stuffed animals on the floor. I believe she was hosting some sort of stuffed-animal concert event. When told by her mom that she needed to pick them all up, she beseeched me to help her. When I seemed less than enthusiastic, she tried a new tactic: “Let’s play a game. Let’s see who can put the most toys in the box the fastest.”

Yes, my buddy is a born leader. (Actually, I think she may have been using one of my own strategies against me.) She was also onto something. Finding the fun in the most dreary of tasks can make the job seem to go faster and add joy to daily tedium.

Why?

  • Games have conflict.
  • There are defined choices.
  • There’s a clear winner.

These basic characteristics can be used to make study, work, or chores more entertaining:

  • Study partners can have a running bet on the person who makes the lower grade on each assignment buys the Starbucks at the next study session. (Obviously, this works best when partners are evenly matched.)
  • When we do library inventory, although we never admit it, we all race to see who can get through our sections first. The beeping sounds of others’ scanners keep us motivated.
  • And probably every mom knows that making a contest with a clear prize at the end is a good way to get kids to do their chores.

And even if you don’t have someone to be your partner or competitor, you can still make activities into a game:

  • My gym activity is always a one-person race: to run a little farther and to do just one more dip than the day before.
  • I’ll put on some music, set the kitchen timer (well, I certainly don’t need it for cooking) and clean house for a specified period of time. When that time is done, I’m done: no more worrying or berating myself about a dirty house until the next time to clean.
  • Even though this probably isn’t listed in any of the study skills books, in college, I would divide up my reading assignments by how many days I had before the next class or test. Then I would list them as micro-goals for each study session.

Maybe in a perfect world, we’d be innately interested in all that came our way, and most some folks are. But for the rest of us, just making a little game out a task can make a big difference. Please share with me the tips you have for making chores more pleasant; I need all the help I can get.

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