I’ve always been fond of numbers. Counting things, keeping track of changes over time, analyzing the numbers and identifying patterns — it all feels mesmerizing to me. It is probably one of the reasons I’ve been a big fan of games and the concept of gamification.
The same applies to the way I manage things to get done in my personal as well as work life. I’ve kept todo lists and gloated at the feeling of achievement when I strike items off them for a very long time. Having changed the tools of trade for this task management over the years — from simple pen and paper to pretty much every task management and GTD app out there — I recently decided to settle on Todoist as my primary todo list.
I had been a Todoist user for some time a few years back when it was just getting started. For reasons I can’t remember, I moved to other apps then, but returned to it late last year after seeing how much the web app had improved, and that there was a native Windows app that worked really well. That there was an actively developed Android app was just the cherry on the cake I needed.
So coming back to what I was saying, things got really interesting when Todoist announced the Karma system a couple months back. I had been looking for a way to substantiate how I was doing with my task management on a regular basis. Karma seemed interesting and within days of being rolled out, was impacting how I approached my todo list. In a nutshell, the system rewards you for creating and completing tasks, while penalizing procrastination — things like missing due dates, postponing tasks, etc. I quickly found myself aware and conscious of how I was managing my lists. I was adding more tasks, striving hard to complete them and thinking twice before pushing something for later. The system was working!
A couple of months in, and the basic instincts are still the same. Every time I need to do something, pressing Shift+Ctrl+A to add it to the desktop Todoist client is almost automatic. I think and rethink before adding due dates and kick myself every time I have to postpone a task. It’s hard to say if all of the credit for this behavior goes to the Karma system, but I’m sure a big chunk does.
I can also say after having lived with the system for a couple of months, that it is not perfect. The novelty of seeing that number grow has worn off to an extent after the initial rush. Part of the reason might be that after a point the number doesn’t seem to grow as fast. A little more emphasis on exactly how the number is working might help. I also think the next step should be a deeper level of analysis where I can track how well I’m doing over time, or across projects.
But I’m sure there thought being given to that as I write this, and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for us from the developers of the app. For now though, I look forward to that next milestone in my Karma score while I go about getting things done in my life, within and outside of Todoist.