MARCH 17, 2010

Hack your motivation with statistics

TAGS: motivation,

For a website me and my friend Robert recently released we had to do a tedious work of manually positioning a lot of car rental stations geographically on a Google Maps widget. For every station, we had to look up the address using a swedish yellow pages service or Google it if it wasn't found, and then manually verifying that there was a car rental station at the address (by looking at the satellite image, or Googling).

Just for the fun of it, I created a statistics page where - for each rental company - you could see how many of the stations had been positioned and how many had not, as well as some progress bars. It wasn't until after I had done it, and we had done some positioning, that I realized what genius move it was! The extremely boring work of positioning, what seemed to be an endless stack of car rental stations, suddenly didn't seem that endless. Every ten minutes I could check and see that the progress bar had moved another %. This made me go on doing more stations each positioning session, as well as increase the frequency of the sessions. I frequently checked in to see if my friend had positioned any stations, which often led to me doing one or two percent.

It took me 15 minutes to implement, and it was probably one of my best invested 15 minutes ever. So, I guess what you can learn from this, is that just like blizzard "hacks" your motivation in World of Warcraft by continuously letting you see character improvement and giving you small rewards, you yourself can trick yourself into feeling more motivated for some boring task by making it possible to easily access information about the progress.

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Jonatan Heyman My name is Jonatan Heyman, and I'm a programmer. On this blog I write about programming, the web and technology. I also listen to a large number of indie pop tunes. You can read more about me on the about page.

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