From my journal. Status: quite speculative, but there's something here.
We could probably put a -5 to +5 scale of behavior together that was logarithmic about the enduring good/bad impact of various activities.
Something totally neutral — say, neutral leisure that’s not particularly recharging nor distracting — that might be 0.
Activities or time that were +1 would be very slight gains without much enduring impact, like slightly-recharging leisure. +2 might be things with slightly more impact, like doing chores or cleaning.
The thing about logarithmic scales is that they get big, fast. +3 might be good one-off business-building activities, +4 might be establishing an ongoing revenue channel that keeps outputting gains, and +5 might be an absolute game-changing type thing like getting workable protocols on a vastly untapped marketing channel like Google Adwords in its very early days (with the potential for hundreds-of-thousands to millions of dollars in profit if done right) or recruiting an absolute superstar employee or some such.
On the negative side, -1 would be lost time without much repercussion (maybe a slow start to the day kind of staring off into space), -2 would be slight ongoing negative consequences like starting the day surfing the internet, -3 would be starting to take multi-day damage with bad decisions, -4 would be doing seriously dumb stuff with very long-term implications — for instance, stubbornly training through an injury and turning it into multi-months of physical therapy required, and -5 would be multi-year damage events like a serious alcoholic or heroin addict relapsing onto booze or heroin respectively.
Logarithmic scales are notoriously hard for people to get their mind around, but actually map well to reality in some instances.
For instance, if you spent a half-hour at “-1” quality time (-30 total) and then two hours at “-2” quality time (-1200 total), but then 90 minutes on a good one-off revenue generating campaign at +3 (+9000), then you come out considerably ahead. Staring off into space or surfing the internet is of course wasteful, but a solidly inspired 90 minutes of revenue-generating is much better than that. It’s possible to get a lot of gains in 90 focused minutes.
-5: -10,000 points per minute
-4: -1,000 points per minute
-3: -100 points per minute
-2: -10 points per minute
-1: -1 point per minute
0: 0 points per minute
+1: +1 point per minute
+2: +10 points per minute
+3: +100 points per minute
+4: +1,000 points per minute
+5: +10,000 points per minute
That might be too steep in some cases, and not steep enough in other cases; pseudo-logarithmic might map to reality better, but I think something like this actually maps to the reality of “great days”, “okay days”, and “bad days.”
A day you spent the whole day cleaning and doing chores, say 10 hours of +2 time, would be “6,000 points” — you’d have been better off in some respects by doing just an hour or two of higher-tier work that day, but +3/+4/+5 time isn’t always easy to come by.
At the extremes you can see some of the potential correctness shake out. A day that you did a ton of one-off good sales and prospecting, even 10 hours at +3 time, you’d get “60,000 points” — very solid, but if that was followed up with just a few hours of destructive behavior it’d give up some of the gains. A short, way-too-hard drinking session to celebrate — to someone was a mildly irresponsible drinker but not quite a relapsing alcohol — might come in as four hours of “-3 time” and -24,000, suppressing the next day’s performance and having a slight carryover for a few days and giving up some of the day’s gains.
A day of lots of scratching and grinding and distraction (say, 10 hours split between -2 or -3 time, for -3300 total) followed by just a couple hours of serious breakthrough +4 time on systems or ops or revenue or whatever (120,000) actually comes out to a great day. Of course, it’s rare to put in breakthrough time after a totally scattered and wasteful start to a day, but it does happen — and those days, in retrospect, are like, “Huh, that’s a weird day but it went well.”
It also explains — doesn’t justify, but does explain — how people doing extremely large-scale business or culture can oscillate rapidly between massively self-destructive behavior and massively successful behavior and seem to get away with it for long stretches of time — Jim Morrison (1943-1971), the lead singer of The Doors, certainly put in the musician’s equivalent of lots of +4 and +5 behavior on making art and music and popularizing it and really connecting with people... but even short extended runs of -5 time can end your life, as it did in his case.
Of course, when young people who aren’t celebrities or business moguls emulate the more destructive parts of that scene, the -5 time doesn’t get bulwarked by +5 time in business or art, and you wind up not with the legacy of a tortured genius like Morrison, but with... well, you ruin your life.
Are there practical applications here? Well, not yet. I’m trying to find some way to capture the wildly-varying quality of how time is spent, trying to make more of a clear distinction between going well and going amazing, etc.
Days with no negative time at all and some slight positives are decent. More negative time can be absorbed at lower levels if compensated with more time in the higher-performing categories. At the high ends of the extreme, you could even maybe get away with significant -4 and -5 time if you’re doing massively-impactful positive things, but if you can get massively impactful positive time without getting stuck in high-negative time — like, say, Gene Simmons in music or Jeff Bezos in business — then you wind up building a really consistently exceptional life.
Logarithmic scales are hard to calculate intuitively; when 10 minutes of +2 time is roughly equivalent to two hours of +1 time, that’s unintuitive. A single hour or two of +5 time in some cases might be more important than everything else you do that month, so long as you don’t give up all the gains with -4 and -5 time.
This is still very much a work-in-progress, and to have any chance of viability, at least three things would need to be true —
And the scales might be wrong — maybe pseudo-logarithmic, or with each tier being double the level below it, or some such. It’s certainly the case that there’s a very few activities that we can occasionally identify that are more than 1000x as impactful as normal time — think of Einstein in the Swiss patent office, compared to how most patent clerks would have spent their time — likewise, there’s a limited range of very destructive behavior that gives up all the gains in life, that’s 1000x worse than normal distraction or foolishness.
The more of life can be deployed into those highest-level tiers of ongoing positive impact, and the more the negative tiers can at least be ratcheted down to the manageable -1 and -2 time which is bad but not enduringly bad, it seems like this becomes a sort of recipe for life. A high-earning person on salary who spends only 20% of what they make and conservatively invests the difference — going the “early retirement extreme” path — has a mix of lots of +3 and +4 time, and probably doesn’t need much +5 time to hit their targets. The disruptive entrepreneur or pioneering artist or inventor, on the other hand, hunts for +4 and +5 time, often at the expense of nights of low sleep, long days, occasional thrashing around.
Rough thoughts — still a work in progress. I think there’s definitely something here, though.
I see the value in discerning what my - times are, and as an alcoholic (1/27/2010, go me) I can see that -5 is going on a bender, but - 4 through -1 are ways to eat my success. So that's some self-reflection and then identifying how I'm not setting myself up for success. And of course UltraWork is my +3 and up time!
There's a similar mechanic that's used in estimating tasks in some forms of agile software development - you estimate, but your estimate numbers are powers of 2 or the Fibonacci sequence, or something else exponential-ish: "https://pm.stackexchange.com/questions/4251/why-would-teams-use-the-fibonacci-sequence-for-story-points"
Basically, you're really getting an order-of-magnitude on the task (which matters and can maybe be accurate) rather than to within 10% of right (which is impossible.)
If you were going to apply that in your case, I wouldn't start with adding them up. I'd start with plus- and minus-flavored order-of-magnitude cards, and score your day according to the highest (or highest two?) magnitudes. If you have a plus 5, ignore any minus up to around 3 or 4. As a motivation, it's even better -- have you slipped into a -2 behavior? You're going to need some +3 or +4 to get it off your "tab" for the day. And you're going to need it *soon*. But if you have to do some -4ing, you can at best come out even, even *with* +4. And even with -3, you may be stuck with a +4/-3 day instead of a +4 day...
Basically I'm suggesting that with orders of magnitude on productivity, you can *clearly* ignore anything that's two orders of magnitude smaller, because a 1% difference in productivity is nearly impossible to accurately measure. You *may* want to ignore *one* order of magnitude lower, because a 10% difference in productivity is still *hard* to accurately measure. Anything where a 200% improvement is possible, it's possible because it's a different *kind* of activity. If you're simply tracking how many envelopes you stuffed by hand in an hour, you're not getting a 100x improvement. So if you're tracking 100x improvements, you shouldn't add them up with your 3% improvements, because that's going to be apples and oranges. 100x improvements are more like, "what if I paid somebody to do this?" or "what if I stopped using postal mail completely?"
I’ve found planning week in this way to be tremendously effective: I use Perry Marshall’s time leverage as a reference and then aim for the highest points for the week as possible, while limiting dedicated expenditure to six hours each day if I can.
I love this , SM...please continue to focus on the mechanics! Not sure , but I can see this as an add-on to the Lights spreadsheet. If not an add on , a separate variation, with white as ‘ 0’ and negative logarithms skewing to black, positive skewing to red...
Taking charge of one’s time is the most important thing one can do, being able to see patterns and avoid getting stuck in the negatives would be stupendous! The setting of what constitutes a +3,4, and 5 activity would be illuminating as well because everyone’s would be different...a ‘5’ is what does not occur all the time but we would certainly benefit from it occurring more often than it does...
Got a good question from a reader about sleep. One of my goals is to sleep less than 8 hours/night
Hello, and thanks for inviting your blog visitors to email you directly. I just came across your site today, and got some good reading out of your "top stories" list. What compelled me to write, though, was a trend I noticed on some of your "goals" posts: sleeping less than 8 hours per night.
It caught my attention, because at first glance it looks counter-intuitive. Yet I understand exactly what you mean.
Cut. Return to monologue later. Get to the askin':
How is it working out for you?
Big props to the Vator team for putting on a great, intimate Gamification conference in Berkeley today. I captured some of the content, with my (chicken-scratch) notes below each video.
Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Techologies: Michael's keynote was fantastic. He crammed a 2 hour workshop into a 45 minute presentation, so there was a lot of theory to digest in the video.
My notes from Michael's talk: (not necessarily super coherent)
Big props to the Vator team for putting on a great, intimate Gamification conference in Berkeley today. I captured some of the content, with my (chicken-scratch) notes below each video. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Techologies: Michael's keynote was fantastic. He crammed a 2 hour workshop into a 45 minute presentation, so there was a lot of theory to digest in the video. > My notes from Michael's talk: (not necessarily super coherent) Social = connection but gamification = interaction. While connection is huge as evidenced by Facebook, interaction is what builds loyal relationships. Gamification is created on top of connections. Connection = baseline framework. The latent value of a connection (fan/friend) is the potential to interact. 3 most common commercial uses of gamification: Deepen engagement, sustain loyalty, onboard new users... many more in non-business use (government, education) What powers the magic behind gamification: The Fogg Behavior Model = 3 things that drive human psychology: Motivation Ability Trigger Gamification = temporal convergence of the these 3 things. Must drive users above an activation threshold before triggering them. In more detail: Discussing motivation: What motivates people: Maslow's hierarchy of needs is what motivates people: Physical / Safety / Belonging / Esteem / Self-Actualization. All social cohesion happens in "belonging" stage. Game mechanics happen in "Esteem" stage. Gamification = primal to the human psyche. The self-actualization stage = "being stage" -- things like self sufficiency... goodness... completeness... autonomy... mastery... purpose... Game mechanics can be applied here as well. Watson & Skinner say human behaviors are learned through conditioning... for example, assigning "points" for what works to reinforce behavior. But points by themselves have no value. The proper use of points depends on the reward schedule. Drive different human behavior by providing different reward schedules, like: Variable Ratio (VR): This is what guides game addiction. The "wildcard" where the user never knows exactly how many points are going to be distributed, and when. Variable Interval (VI): Is same point amounts but on varying schedules. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Psychology of Flow = forget about physical feelings (hunger, sleep), passage of time, ego... it's HARD to get users to this state. To do so, the skill has to match the challenge. If the challenge is too hard, people get anxiety, if too easy, people get bored. Flow = fine line between certainty and uncertainty. Too much control = boring. Too challenging = frustrating. Very hard to please all users and get them into "Flow". Over time people acquire more skill, so even if they're in the "Flow" at one point in time, they will fall out of it over time as they get better. Developer must have variable, ongoing control over how hard the gameification mechanics are to keep the user in Flow. (or the right algorithms to do so automatically) Moving onto Ability: Ability DNE skill. Ability = measure of access to resources at the moment when the user needs to perform the behavior. Resource types = 1) effort (physical, mental), 2) scarce (time, money, authority/permission, attention), 3) Adaptability (capacity to break norms) Ability is context dependent... access to resources above is different for everyone. Example he just gave: Everyone in the room has the skill to send a tweet. But Michael (presenting) does not have the ability to tweet because he's giving a presentation (he's lost access to time and attention resources above, because he's presenting). 2 perspectives on ability: Think about it from a task perspective, not a user perspective. Task perspective = focus on simplicity -- on perceived ability by user to do that task. Another example: Do it the "hard way" by training the user to have more ability (user perspective), or the "easy way" by making the task simpler (task perspective). Example he gives is publishing video: Anyone could do it before, but YouTube made it seem easy, so now many more people do it. Other examples are progress bars (90% done, you feel like it's easier... divide & conquer... ) Last factor: Trigger Trigger = anything that asks the user to perform a behavior right now. User must be aware of trigger and must understand what the trigger means. Why are triggers necessary? Some reasons: User is unaware of his ability... user does not know when to do something... user may be distracted... user may question his motivation... good triggers break these routines and reassure user's motivation and bring to user's attention how easy the task is. Trigger is all about timing. There are a lot of bad triggers out there: For example, spam mail. Bad trigger because spam arrives at a time when we don't have the ability (i.e., bad timing). "Cancun vacation" spam email ... user does not have motivation or ability to act on it. Different types of triggers: Spark trigger: User has ability but is not motivated. Facilitator trigger: User is motivated but does not have ability (often used with progress bar to create anticipation as user improves towards his goal) Trigger effectiveness also depends on "gamer archetype"... creator of Dungeons & Dragons created this. Says all men created in image of 4 types: Achiever, Explorer, Killer, Socializer. Look at these 4 types: Killer: Less than 1% of population. Highly competitive. How to trigger: Challenge them. Foursquare does this well: "You've been ousted as mayor". Socializer: 80% of population: Opposite of Killer -- hate confrontation. Value relationship & followers. Best way to trigger = show that their friends are doing it. Achiever: 10% of population: Aspire to be killer but can never beat them. Triggered by status increase. Explorer: 10% of population. Driven by discovery & uniqueness of their contributions. Hate time & space constraints. Trigger by calling on their unique skill (you are the only one with this skill). ===== END of 3 points description ==== Beware of moral hazard of game play: Skinnerian operant conditioning: The reward can become learned & become the motivator instead of the behavior. Example: gamify flossing -- reward with perks, like a toy: kids will floss, but for the wrong reasons... you won't be able to keep up... then they lose all motivation to perform the desired task. The overjustification effect: Rewarding people with extrinsic rewards will actually decrease a person's intrinsic motivation for the gamified behavior. If your kid hates to do math, don't reward them with $5 to do math, because they will hate it over time (yes he says this is counter intuitive). Most commercial gamification uses perks & cash... can get expensive after a while. Points & badges works on much larger scale (they're free). BUT the problem is all of these are extrinsic rewards; won't keep working in long run. There are 2 sustainable gamification strategies. Bad news: Gamification is NOT sustainable by itself in the long run Good news: Gamification is GREAT to get someone started on something... creating new habit... but there must be an intrinsic value beyond the gamification. Gamification becomes secondary over time. Gamify = start & reinforce behavior. ... which means: Gamification is great for onboarding. Other option: figure out someone's intrinsic motivation through gamification (like a testing framework) and then focus on the user's intrinsic value. So to sum up: 1) Make gamification work long enough for user to realize intrinsic value 2) Make gamification work long enough for the system to identify user's intrinsic value Some examples of gamification: Speed Camera Lottery: Like a regular speed camera; takes pics of speeders... BUT also takes pics of drivers obeying the speed limit, and some of the $$$ collected is paid out to safe drivers. Trigger type: Spark Result: It worked very well by changing user's behavior long-term: average speed dropped from 32mph to 25mph in 25mph zone Gap gamify store check-in: Gap free jeans giveaway event: User checks in at Gap store to win a pair of jeans (giving 10,000 away) Trigger type: "Ends today" Result: Moral hazard here, because once the 10,000 pairs are gone, user stops checking in. There is no resulting intrinsic value for the user past the prize. An evaluative framework + a design paradigm for gamification: Motivate user with positive (not negative) behavior Increase the user's ability by simplyfing the behavior of the task being gamified Place the proper trigger at the right time Gamification is iterative -- start at the 3rd point and iterate up. I.e. start by placing a trigger... then try to make the task simpler... then try to motivate user differently. Gamification is very data intensive: You need deep behavior metrics & analytics, for example to track players you need to be able to track their behavior... you need feedback data to iterate on the game. Other takeaways: Gamification of work DNE mixing games with work. Don't confuse the two. Ranjith Kumaran, Founder, PunchTab > My notes from Ranjith's talk: (not necessarily super coherent) Session by Ranjith Kumaran, founder of PunchTab.com and co-founder of YouSendIt.com Monthly Metrics from PunchTab.com: 18 out of 10,000 users will actively 'like' something on Facebook. Gamify on FB = 157 out of 10,000. 1 in 10,000 are active on Google+. Gamify on G+ = 9 in 10,000 UGC is really tough: Comment threads are fairly active... 32 out of 10,000 will actively comment once/month. Game-enable = triple it -- 70 to 80 out of 10,000 Sharing activity on twitter = 3x that of Facebook (similar to what Komal found) This speaker's main point: Player should be able to play passively -- for example, gamification happens when user is doing something else. Example in our case would be that user accumulates points by taking a social action in an app, or by reading content in an app. "Just by showing up you get a little bit of social currency." ... that gets users into the system. Over time users realize they have a lot of 'social currency' locked up in a system when they've been gaining it passively, then over time they start making incremental choices to increase that social currency -- i.e., once they have a big # of points, then they care more about increasing it. "Make it real within 30 days" --> ideally within first 17 days have the user take an action that gets them personally invested: unlock a badge, for example. Then the user becomes aspirational. The takeaway: Give users points for doing stuff they're going to do anyway to get them onboard, and then make sure they know how many points they've accumulated. Jonny Shaw, Founder, NakedPlay.co and Chethan Ramachandran, Co-Founder and CEO, Playnomics > My notes from Jonny & Chethan's talk: (not necessarily coherent) Taking gamification to the next level (past badges): Personalized play... To unlock big brand and advertiser budgets, we need a new type of strategic framework. Richard Bartle created the "Killers/Achievers/Socializers/Explorers" types of players... these speakers argue that these 4 categories are no longer relevant. These speakers have created a new framework for gamification that's built around social & mobile, where casual play is much more pronounced: Horizontal axis of new framework: Pleasure -- why do people play? Pursuing pleasure -- "proactive" or "reactive" Are users seeking pleasure, or are they more likely to react to pleasurable experiences. Vertical axis of new framework: Intuitive vs. Diligent . Do you strategize & think, or do you use reflex & instinct. Third axis = smaller circle inside the larger circle: Solus vs. Social Use this framework to define 8 fundamental types of players: Outer ring: Top left: Scientist: Trying new things and intuitively applying learnings, i.e., Cut the Rope game Top right: Habitualist: Seek repetitive pleasure feedback. (I.e., gambling slots game). Overindulgent & spontaneous. Much of gamification today is at this level. Bottom left: Strategist: Control environment to suit skills. Keeping self in check. I.e., Minecraft. Bottom right: Soloist: Detached security & controlled environments... classic motivation of single player puzzle games. I.e., Drop7 game. Inner ring: Top left: Politician: Trying to get ahead by intuitively adapting to people. Huge oppty for more to be built in this area. I.e., Chore wars Top right: Socialite: Connecting people at all costs. Getting a fix out of other people. Draw something = tip of iceberg of this type of game. All about being intuitive, reactive & social. Bottom left: Competitor: Gaining respect; beating the other guy. Control & power. I.e, Words With Friends Bottom right: Collectivist: Follow social norms with badges & uniforms. Heart & soul of gamification at the moment. I.e., Foursquare. Takeaway: Adaptive play, personalization, customization... if you know the core behaviors & personalities you want to speak to, you can start creating environments for the users... For example, a frequent flyer program that changes based on risk appetites -- you can gamble all your points for that elusive first class upgrade... but you might lose all your points. Explaning Gamification: Take the humble, old-school crossword: The best gamification platform of all time. The best loyalty program of all time. (People bought the paper for the crossword puzzle... came back the next day to see the answers). It didn't have any badges... no gimmicks... yet created 30 year loyal buyers of the NY Times. "People like playing games more than people like collecting badges"On Maslow again: 20th century did well with "Esteem" -- expensive cars, luxury goods, etc... but 21st century & future of marketing is around self actualization: and game play fits into that. Panel of Gamification Experts: >