We all have trouble with intrinsic motivation every now and again. There is always some not so interesting task that needs doing that just isn’t inherently rewarding enough to feel worth our time to do. For people with ADHD, intrinsic motivation can be a lot tougher, and it can be difficult to find external motivation all the time. In part, this can bee due to the fact that the ADHD brain administers the reward neurotransmitter dopamine differently.
How Gamification Helps
Enter gamification. 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 the boost of external motivation you might need to get things done.
Here’s how Alex Waltz at Zapier describes the process. “Gamification works by releasing dopamine in the mesolimbic pathway, your brain’s primary reward circuit. Your mesolimbic pathway helps determine your motivation and drive, by signalling a connection between an imminent reward and the work needed to achieve that reward. It’s what makes you feel good after a run—and what gives you the energy to hit the finish line.”
“Gamification can naturally increase your dopamine levels, thanks to its novelty. Your brain becomes excited and releases dopamine as you unlock new achievements, rewards, and quests. That works with your internal reward circuit to aid motivation and associative learning, by training you to do that task to get dopamine.Simply put, gamification uses your brain’s naturally occurring neurotransmitters to trick you into working harder and more efficiently, while helping you retain more knowledge at the same time.”
Apps to Gamify Your Life
There are numerous apps available today to help turn the ordinary (and boring) tasks in life into a challenging game – e.g., EpicWin, Forest and SuperBetter. One of the best known examples is Habitica.
Habitica turns your chore list and the habits you want to build into a series of simple, fun, and even addicting quests. You create a custom avatar, add any habits you’d like to adopt, goals you’d like to achieve, and tasks that need done, then check off tasks to level up your avatar. Each task you complete will net you gold—or sometimes you’ll get a more valuable reward like a mount for your avatar or an egg that you can hatch for a pet. You can then spend your gold on new equipment for your avatar, new abilities like spell-casting, and even custom rewards you add yourself—perhaps 30 minutes of Netflix or a power nap in the sun. Habitica keeps you in check by punishing inactivity with immediate consequences, including reductions in your avatar’s health. The app even lets you hold others accountable by letting you recruit friends for a guild and battle monsters with productivity.
If you find your motivation flagging when it comes to completing life’s routine chores, you might want to consider turning the whole thing into a game.
How to Turn Your Life into a Video Game