Category Archives: Self-Gamification

Self-gamification is the application of game design elements to one’s own life.
Self-gamification is a self-help approach showing you how to be playful and gameful.
In self-gamification, you are both the designer AND the player of your games.

Join the Review Team for Gameful Project Management

I have some great news. I started releasing books in the series “Gameful Life.” Last week, Gameful Project Management went live as an e-book. The paperback will come out soon.

Thank you all, who expressed their interest in Gameful Project Management and the “Gameful Life” series. Thank you also for your support and exciting discussion on the topic. Note that the links and the picture above will lead you to the book’s page on Amazon. If you would like to see the book’s page on this site and see what other retailers have it on sale, then click here.

Even if the paperback is not out yet, you can already get a copy of the book, either by buying it as an e-book or by joining a Review Team. Taking we are having 2020, I have reserved 20 spaces in the Review Team. Several are already taken, thus please let me know ASAP (per e-mail to if you are interested in being part of it.

The book is short (105 pages); thus, you won’t be able to read much about it in the free sample. Therefore, I add here an excerpt from the introduction, letting you know what it is, what it is not about, who it is for, and what you could learn by reading this book.

What is this book about?

This book is an awareness booster.

That is what all non-fiction — especially those on personal and business development — and also some fiction books, video courses, documentaries, films, inspiring workshops, seminars, and conferences, as well as meet-ups with peers and friends, are. If we allow it, they can all boost our awareness of what else is possible, in addition to what we already know.

And that is what this book is about. I wrote it to raise your awareness of what is possible when you turn project management into Gameful Project Management; in other words, if you approach your projects, including the management of them, as if they were games, and as if you were both the designer and the player of these games.

What is this book not about?

And here is what Gameful Project Management is not about.

It is not an academic book.

Nor is it an exhaustive resource on the topic of Self-Gamification, which serves as the basis for Gameful Project Management. For an in-depth discourse on the Self-Gamification approach, go to Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

This book is not about you buying new software or hiring new personnel.

We won’t be looking for the reasons you don’t feel as in control as you’d like over your projects, project management, or life.

This book is not about being too serious or demanding of yourself or your team. There is a word in project management that is often used: “accountable.” I feel it is sometimes used to add drama and exaggerate the need for precise recording of progress on a project, which is not always possible. And as a result, we put too much weight on the person who is expected to be accountable.

But excellence is not perfection. According to Elizabeth Gilbert, perfection is fear in disguise. Excellence is inherent to the gamers who enjoy the games they play. But there is no drama (or only jokingly expressed upsets) when they play games, while we seem to insist on loading our projects with drama and seriousness. So instead of putting too much weight and drama on project management activities, by claiming that they are vital and critical (which they might be in some situations, and not in others), you will learn how to address them lightly and gamefully, and at the same time with excellence and perseverance. After all, those who have fun with what they do, are successful at what they do.

Project management is about saying both “yes” and “no.” But we won’t be assigning things as either “good” or “bad.” I learned that if I keep things around for a while, then I want to do them, despite giving them all kinds of labels. The gameful approach that I address in this book will help you to put that labeling urge aside, and to view what you do as games instead.

The Gameful Project Management book is not about overthrowing the practices developed by the masters of project management. I was amazed to discover that project management knowledge has been collected worldwide for over 250 years. No, this book is not about replacing all this knowledge with a new approach, or distilling it in any way. It is about supplementing the essential project management toolkit.

Who is this book for?

This book is for everyone interested in making project management not only productive and effortless, but also fun.

What will you learn in this book?

You will learn about the synergy of anthropology (= awareness), kaizen (= small steps) and gamification (= bringing fun game elements into what we do). These three approaches are brought together by Self-Gamification, and when it comes to project management, by Gameful Project Management.

Here is why.

Without being aware of and appreciating what you have already achieved or what you have at your disposal, you won’t be able to grow. You need to know your “soil,” the “grains” and the “weather/landscape” conditions at this moment (not some future point), to identify the best next step to achieve the result you would like.

Without being willing to take a small step at a time, and to make only a little or no investment for each of these small steps, you won’t be able to grow continually. Instead, you will experience bumps.

Without adding a fun factor to what you do, without enjoying what you do, you will struggle to produce something that others will enjoy too.
By introducing these three skill sets, the book will equip you with simple tools to address any challenges you experience with your projects, and the management of them.

You will learn how to improve performance in your project management without considerable investments in expensive technology or new personnel.

You will find out how to achieve these improvements using what you already have at your disposal, and with minimal additional effort.
You might also experience what I did, when time and money were saved in a project — that the company I worked for as a sub-contractor received referrals, not only from their customer, but also from their customer’s client. The most fantastic thing about this achievement is that the only parameter changed was the gameful approach described in this book.

You will also discover that saving time and money comes as a natural result, as does the acquisition of new customers. These are the by-products of embracing the essence of Self-Gamification and Gameful Project Management.

For you, as the project manager, this essence is to approach each project and project management with awareness, in small steps, and gamefully.

Contact to join the review team for Gameful Project Management.

What Projects to Turn into Games?

Reading time: 7 minutes.

You can turn any project and any activity into a game — both at work and at home.

There is also another aspect of what we can or maybe should gamify (turn into games). I discovered that most satisfaction comes when I turn those tasks into games that appear tricky and tough. A task seems tough and overwhelming when I resist it. Turning those tough tasks into enjoyable and fun activities helps me melt my procrastination and increase my desire to “play” them. That is the actual fun of Self-Gamification.

Let’s look into this a little more.

Many of us have learned at various points in our lives to classify our projects and tasks into urgent and non-urgent, important and unimportant. I learned and tried to apply this system multiple times too.

While turning my life into games, and by observing myself and the world around me non-judgmentally, I discovered that there are only two types of projects and tasks depending on how I treat them.
I either:

  • escape from them, or
  • escape to them.

That is it. Nothing more.

There is, of course, psychological research about how and why we behave in various situations. Human behavior is so complex that there are numerous scientific disciplines studying and trying to explain it.

Thus, it is even more amazing to realize that independent of the causes for our actions, we treat whatever we want or have to do in only two ways:

  • We either avoid them (in other words, we don’t do them), or
  • Do them while escaping from other things.
Escape-from tasks

What are the tasks and projects from which we tend to escape — those we procrastinate about before attending to, or avoid forever? What are these?

When I considered what these were for me, I realized that there were again two types, or sub-types, of projects and tasks, independent of whether they had to do with work, my family and friends, or myself.
My thought processes determined these two sub-types of escape-from tasks, and this is how I thought of them:

  • Sub-type 1: I either felt that I wanted to do them very much, but didn’t have time for them, or
  • Sub-type 2: I thought I didn’t want to do them but had to do them.

Here are some examples of the tasks I wanted to do but thought that I didn’t have time for (sub-type 1):

  • I wanted to spend more time writing my works-in-progress during the day but I couldn’t because I had so many other things to do.
  • I wanted to learn and speak better Danish (since I live in Denmark).

Here are examples of the tasks I needed to do because I had committed to them, but claimed or thought that I didn’t want to do them (sub-type 2):

  • I didn’t like doing bookkeeping for my business, but I had to.
  • I didn’t like working out or doing any kinds of sports, but I had to because it was better for my health.

While practicing Self-Gamification, I discovered something surprising that now sounds logical and revealing to me. The tasks we ”have” to do must also be something we ”want” to do. Otherwise, we wouldn’t keep them around but would give them up entirely after some time. We can become aware of this by recognizing that they are, in fact, parts of the more significant projects or goals we want to achieve. Such as preparing for exams to get the degree we want.

Escape-to tasks

Now, let’s consider the things that we escape to. The things that we choose to do before those discussed in the previous section. Let’s take a look at the projects and tasks we blame for our procrastination of escape-from tasks.

I discovered that here, there are also two sub-types. There are “obvious” and “productive” escape-to tasks.

The obvious are those we describe as, “I deserve a break, so I’ll do that instead of what I planned to do.”

These could be, for example, watching TV or random videos on YouTube, reading a book for leisure, playing an online game, staying in bed, spending time on social media, surfing the internet, etc.

And the second type is productive activities, but not necessarily those that are urgent or necessary to reach our set goals. Instead, these are beneficial but non-urgent, and things we might attend to when we “should” be doing other more pressing activities or those we claim we want to do.

For me, that used to be doing laundry (or in the absence of it, other household chores). If I was finding it a challenge to write an article or a blog post or a book chapter or to compile advertising copy for my books and services, I sometimes followed the impulse to go and check if there were enough dirty clothes to wash or any clean and dry laundry to fold.

Others might choose, for example, gardening before any other things they have to do. Or, if you work in an office, you might find yourself re-structuring the folders on your shelves (or in your computer file system) or some similarly useful but not necessarily urgent activity.

Escape-from and escape-to tasks can switch places

While reading (or listening to) the above, you might have had difficulties to differentiate clearly between escape-from and escape-to activities, when thinking of yours.

That could be because the activities we escape from can become those we escape to and vice versa, depending on our state of mind.

The first time I noticed that for me was when I was putting off laundry and checking the books for my business almost daily, even if there were rarely daily income and expense entries for a one-person business, while I let laundry grow into a considerable mountain.

How can this classification help you?

You might have felt a little uncomfortable looking at what you escape from and escape to and also at the complexity of your thought processes. So why doing it?

First of all, its purpose is to give you a simple approach to study your behavior toward various projects and activities, as well as your thought processes, anthropologically, in other words, non-judgmentally.

This consideration is also meant to make you aware that you procrastinate not only the things you think you don’t want to do but have to, but also those projects about which you think you cherish.

The awareness about what your escape-from and escape-to projects and activities are, in various situations and state of your mind, can help you design your Self-Motivational Games in such a way that you create an enticing challenge. Above that, you can give yourself more rewards for your escape-from projects and activities, and limit your rewards for the escape-activities.

For example, I limited points to a maximum of one per day for doing laundry. If I gained a point for it on a particular day, trying to do more laundry wouldn’t earn me another point. That motivated me to come back to writing and other activities I feared and procrastinated about so that I could make more points there. Giving myself a point for each tiny bit of a task I procrastinated about, for example, for writing a paragraph for my book or working a few minutes on another escape-from project made those tasks more attractive and effortless to accomplish.

If an escape-to task switched places with an escape-from task, then I adjusted my Self-Motivational Game correspondingly. For example, I had the following game-design twist for the example above, when laundry and book-keeping for my company switched places. I have reserved a spot on my calendar for each Friday to check my business and private accounts and update my business books and personal expenses. Until Friday came, I wouldn’t get any checkmark (or point) for doing this task. Now I was free to do the other tasks I had on my to-do list like laundry, for example, which had become an escape-from task.

Your gameful epiphanies for today:

Before you go on with your day, contemplate what epiphanies you had while reading this piece. Jot them down and revisit later as you had more time to digest what was said here. You are also welcome to share them with me on my social media or by writing me an e-mail (see Contact).

If you want to learn more:

Sign up to Optimist Writer’s Blog to follow the Gameful Project Management series.

Check out my coaching and consulting services to work directly with me.

Take a look into my book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

Go to this link for the list of all the resources I offer on Self-Gamification.

A Gameful Merry Christmas 2019 and a Happy Gameful Year 2020!!!

Christmas decorations in Aalborg, Denmark

Since I last shared my news in “Self-Gamification News by Optimist Writer” on November 15, 2019, many things happened.

First, on a personal level: In my family, we celebrated three birthdays and one birth: the birth of my second grand-niece (who visited us on the very first day of her life!), my mom’s, my daughter’s, and my birthdays. I also attended many Christmas themed events at my children’s school and kindergarten.

These brought many colors to the past month, enriched by what happened at work.

Beside finishing writing another book, this one on how to navigate various health conditions gamefully, I started the first revision of this latest book. I also started working on a compressed version of the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

And among that and a consulting project, as well as planning for several events on Self-Gamification to take place in Aalborg next year, there has been an extraordinary experience I made.

I attended my very first gamification conference ever. That was Gamification Europe 2019 that took place in Berlin, on December 9 and 10, 2019 (with a pre-event on December 8). I met many fantastic and inspiring people, played many fun games (including stone-paper-scissors twice in a room with other hundred plus people), and tested LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. I even spoke at the panel discussion, which addressed the dynamics between those who produce gamification solutions and their customers.

It was my very first gamification conference, but I felt like I have known the organizers and many of the participants for a very long time. I highly recommend all who are interested in gamification to join future Gamification Europe annual events and hope to participate in as many of them as possible myself. If you would like to get an idea about this year’s Gamification Europe, I recommend reading the brilliant blog post with the impressions from the event by Albert van der Meer, author of the Press Start – Using Gamification to Power-up Your Marketing.

And the last in this short Newsletter comes the reminder of the two discounts currently running:

The prices will go back to normal after the holiday season, so please make sure you secure your copy and let your friends and colleagues know so that they can profit from these books too.

I’ll have more to report already in the first months of the next year.

Until then I wish you:

A Gameful Merry Christmas 2019 and a Happy Gameful Year 2020!!!

P.S. Don’t forget to forget (:D) making New Year’s resolution and instead turn whatever you are up to into fun games, the Self-Gamification way.

P.P.S. I collected 50 out of 70 possible stars in the Gamification Europe week (with max 10 stars for each day). How many stars or badges in your self-motivational games did you collect this week?

Why Turning Project Management Into Games?

Reading time: 7 minutes

Let’s look at the reasons why it makes sense to turn project management, among everything else, into fun games.

The order below feels right to me right now (note: it’s not hierarchical), but you are free to read these reasons in the order that feels most appropriate for you. Each paragraph is a reason for itself. I numbered these reasons for your convenience.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Use the space at the end of the chapter to add your possible reasons why Gameful Project Management makes sense.

  1. Projects are building blocks of our lives. Most of our days have to do with projects, either work or on a personal level. So if we want to make our lives more joyful, then approaching the building blocks of our lives needs to be joyful too.
  2. Drama falls away in games. If we look at what we want or have to do as a game, then the stakes are not that high, are they? It’s just a game, isn’t it?
  3. We are less reluctant to start playing a game than say yes to a real-life project.
  4. We are less critical to ourselves in games. In games, we don’t dwell on bumping a car into a wall if we want to continue playing that game. Instead, we notice what happened, rear back, turn the car around if necessary, and carry on. We can do the same in our real-life “games” (including projects and project management activities).
  5. We are less afraid to fail in games. In fact, failures in games often are not considered as failures but steps to the win. That is true, especially for game design. All the discarded game designs are rarely regarded as failures. They are scarcely analyzed for why they “failed” at all. They are just the natural steps to that successful game design.
  6. When you see and treat whatever you are up to as a game, then you can better deal with fear and anxiety. Self-Gamification and its three components can help you to address and bypass fear and anxiety, which are as present in project management as they are in any other activity, in which we want to succeed. The more we want to succeed, the bigger the fear, both failing and succeeding, as well as what people might say in either of these two scenarios. But if what we do is just a game, then the fear diminishes considerably, and we are more willing to try again or try something new.
  7. And in games, you don’t stay upset for too long. If you do, then you stop playing the game. To continue playing, you need to put your upset aside and focus your attention on the next move in the game. Or to another game. Imagine how much easier real-life projects can become if you proceed with them in the same way. In real-life projects, you can do the same: acknowledge the upset and move on.
  8. When you don’t spend so much time on upsets and complaints as you did previously, then you save an enormous amount of time. I observed this consistently in many projects, which I turned into games. What happens then is that the projects or tasks are completed with much less effort than anticipated and often before the deadline (or at least on time). So you save also money in the process. And because of the great atmosphere in the project, and better results than expected, you might even get referrals, not only from your customer but also from your customer’s customers — all as the result of awareness, small steps, and gamefulness.
  9. When we see and treat our projects like games, which we both design and play, then we can stop seeing the challenges the project poses as hardship, but instead something to be addressed with curiosity and creativity.
  10. You might even become curious about something you resented before. You might observe yourself to be eager to start your work on that project now, just like you couldn’t wait to try out a new (or old but newly rediscovered) toy or a game when you were younger.
  11. It seems to us to be much easier to be present and give our best so in games. We don’t try to get done with the game if we enjoy it. And if we don’t have fun playing it, we either leave it for another game (or something else) or modify the design so that we enjoy it.
  12. As a game designer, you feel in control; you can be that in project management too. Because as a game designer of your projects and project management games, you can adjust one or both of the following: the way you approach them and the way you record the progress.
  13. Game designers are utterly resourceful. And you can be that too, in an instant, if you become aware that you are both the designer (or co-designer) and player (co-player) of your project games. If you consider anything you do as a game, of which you are the designer and the player, then you immediately become resourceful on how to adjust the flow of your work so that it becomes fun for you and all involved. With gameful practice, resourcefulness becomes effortless and extremely fun.
  14. Empathy is more natural in games, and we judge our partners in games less than partners and customers in projects.
  15. Turning your life into games allows you to treat yourself as your best (customer) player and at the same time, your favorite game designer, to whom you gladly give your feedback to make your favorite games even better. And when you treat yourself like that, you also treat others with kindness more consistently. The result of that might astound you, but it will not be surprising because people tend to mirror our behavior toward them.
  16. In games, we don’t resent recording or documenting our progress; in fact, we love it because, with each move of our figurine on a leaderboard, we get closer to winning the game. If you despise writing reports or creating and updating checklists, project (or business) plans, road-maps, and others, then seeing them as your project game feedback system can help. And then modifying these in a fun and creative way will help you put your resentment aside with almost no effort.
  17. Gameful Project Management enables low-budget, effortless, enlightening, and fun optimization of all facets of your project management. You might frown at this sentence, but this is precisely how the management of your projects and your time can become when you turn them into exciting games and treat yourself as if you were both the designer and the player of your project management games.
  18. Turning project management into games will not require you to buy a new software system or hire new personnel. Instead, you can concentrate on how you can improve your project management activities with what you already have at your disposal and with little additional effort. With a self-gamified attitude toward project management, you will become aware of what you need for your work (and even life in general) and make conscious decisions on what to do next. You will also acquire skills of gameful resourcefulness and motivation in any of the situations, including tight deadlines when increased motivation is hard to achieve but often needed.
  19. Games and game design are an endless well for creative solutions for project management. “The design and production of games involves aspects of cognitive psychology, computer science, environmental design, and storytelling, just to name a few. To really understand what games are, you need to see them from all these points of view.” — Will Wright in the foreword to Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster. So why not tapping into such a multidimensional and fun discipline for inspiration?
  20. Since games are fun and contain elements that contribute to our happiness, why not approaching all our projects and activities in such a way that they become fun, engaging, and entertaining for us in the same way the games do? If we use fun as the goal, compass, and measuring tool in our projects along with awareness and progressing in small steps, then quality, excellence, success, improvement, productivity, efficiency, and all the other criteria of a successful project and business will come naturally as by-products.
  21. Any project is already a game; we just might not always see them that way.
If you want to learn more:

Sign up to Optimist Writer’s Blog to follow the Gameful Project Management series.

Check out my coaching and consulting services to work directly with me.

Take a look into my book Self-Gamification Happiness Formula.

Go to this link for the list of all the resources I offer on Self-Gamification.

Self-Gamification News by Optimist Writer

I have some exciting news to share.

First of all, the Self-Gamification Happiness Formula, which I published in June of this year in e-book and paperback formats, is now also available as an audiobook.

The other news is that I finished writing the Gameful Project Management manuscript and sent it to my editor. In the coming few weeks, I will post some of the chapters, which I haven’t published as blog posts yet.

To celebrate both great news and because of the holiday season, I reduced the price for the e-books on Self-Gamification as follows:

The prices will go back to normal after the holiday season, so please make sure you let your friends and colleagues know so that they can profit from these books too.