Overwhelmed? – Get Your Game On

Freezing is one of several biological responses to a perceived threat. When you have ADHD, altered executive functioning related to organizing, planning and carrying out tasks can quickly leave you feeling overwhelmed.

This type of overwhelm can be stressful, and you may experience a freeze in motivation which may result in procrastination and task avoidance. One way to help motivate yourself to do something you need to do, but that doesn’t seem particularly interesting, is to add a game element to the task.

How Games Can Provide Motivation

“Gamification” is a term that means applying game mechanics (things like quests, points, and rewards) to non-game applications. Essentially, it is all about making dull things fun. Gamification can make life with ADHD easier by providing that extra boost of motivation you might need to get things done.

Gamification works by stimulating your brain to release dopamine in its primary reward circuit. This in turn affects your motivation and drive, by signalling a connection between an imminent reward and the work needed to achieve that reward. IGamification can naturally increase your dopamine levels, thanks to its novelty.

How to Gamify a Task

Game designers will tell you there are certain elements to a game that should be in place to help keep you engaged:

  • Goals provide a way to keep score and to determine who wins.
  • Rules keep things predictable and consistent.
  • Risk – Having a level of risk makes the “player” consider the strategy for playing and keeps them focused.
  • Feedback provides encouragement and lets the player assess their progress and strategy.
  • Appropriate challenge – It’s important that the level of challenge keeps you interested by not being too easy, but not overwhelmed by being too hard.
  • Rewards should be frequent and provide immediate gratification to keep you motivated to continue.
  • Fun keeps you smiling and is an indication of the intrinsic reward involved in playing a satisfying game.

There are numerous apps available these days that add a game element to routine (and boring) tasks and chores – e.g., EpicWin, Forest and SuperBetter. One of the best known examples is Habitica, which turns your chore list and the habits you want to build into a series of simple, fun, and even addicting quests. In fact, Habitca even provides a set of instructions for adapting its product for use by individuals with ADHD.

But you don’t need to use technology to gamify everyday tasks. Jaclyn Paul discusses a simple process she calls One Task, One Stone where you can create a game using just a jar and some glass beads.

So if you find you are stuck and your motivation is flagging when it comes to completing life’s routine chores, consider turning the whole thing into a game.

How to Turn Your Life into a Video Game


  1. https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-paralysis#summary
  2. https://chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ATTN_06_16_Gamify.pdf
  3. https://www.resetadhd.com/blog/resetting-activation-through-gamification?rq=gamification
  4. https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Adapting_Habitica_for_ADHD
  5. https://adhdhomestead.net/gamify-goals-one-task-one-stone/

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