By 2020, Everything will be a Game

According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 85% of the tasks in our daily lives will include game elements by 2020. In other words, our lives will be gamified.

Gamification is already entrenched in our society. Organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts use game elements to promote skill development through the awarding of merit badges. We use our smartphones to check in on Facebook, Foursquare, and Yelp in order to earn badges or displace our friends as the “mayor” of a popular restuarant. According to Richard Garriott, longtime IEEE member, “our mobile devices will be the hub for all the ‘games’ we’ll be playing throughout a normal day by tracking the data we submit and using it to connect everything.”

Healthcare is another place where gamification is making inroads. Basic medical procedures are being taught through games. Many companies have integrated gamification into their medical coverage, and encourage employees to gain points through healthy behaviors. These points can later be redeemed for discounts on insurance premiums, or other monetary rewards. A healthy workforce has benefits like increased productivity, fewer sick days, and decreased medical claims for preventable conditions such as obesity.

As technology improves, the IEEE predicts gamification will become more prevalent in business. IEEE member Tom Coughlin says:

“by 2020, however many points you have at work will help determine the kind of raise you get or which office you sit in.”

That might sound scary to some, but employers and employees alike stand to gain. Management can base decisions on quantifiable results and employees will be able to see their performance in realtime.

Some companies have even employed games to crowdsource data-gathering. Google, through their subsidiary Niantic Labs, created Ingress, an enhanced reality game with millions of players. As part of the terms of use, players agree to send Google data on their location and movements. Players are encouraged to submit photos of interesting art or architecture to receive more points within the game. For the cost of developing a game, Google now has millions of people helping them gather data on places their Google Maps cars cannot travel.

Source: Technology Advice

It’s not hard to see why the IEEE thinks gamification will continue to permeate daily life. Games can motivate teams, give meaning to mundane tasks, and help promote positive habits. Given their success so far in fields such as healthcare and education, it’s likely this is just the beginning.

Multitasking: Switching costs – a Psychological Approach

Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity. Although that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has talked on the phone while checking E-mail or talked on a cell phone while driving, the extent of the problem might come as a shock. Psychologists who study what happens to cognition (mental processes) when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. Psychologists tend to liken the job to choreography or air-traffic control, noting that in these operations, as in others, mental overload can result in catastrophe.

Multitasking can take place when someone tries to perform two tasks simultaneously, switch . from one task to another, or perform two or more tasks in rapid succession. To determine the costs of this kind of mental “juggling,” psychologists conduct task-switching experiments. By comparing how long it takes for people to get everything done, the psychologists can measure the cost in time for switching tasks. They also assess how different aspects of the tasks, such as complexity or familiarity, affect any extra time cost of switching.


In the mid-1990s, Robert Rogers, PhD, and Stephen Monsell, D.Phil, found that even when people had to switch completely predictably between two tasks every two or four trials, they were still slower on task-switch than on task-repeat trials. Moreover, increasing the time available between trials for preparation reduced but did not eliminate the cost of switching. There thus appear to be two parts to the switch cost — one attributable to the time taken to adjust the mental control settings (which can be done in advance it there is time), and another part due to competition due to carry-over of the control settings from the previous trial (apparently immune to preparation).

Surprisingly, it can be harder to switch to the more habitual of two tasks afforded by a stimulus. For example, Renata Meuter, PhD, and Alan Allport, PhD, reported in 1999 that if people had to name digits in their first or second language, depending on the color of the background, as one might expect they named digits in their second language slower than in their first when the language repeated. But they were slower in their first language when the language changed.

In experiments published in 2001, Joshua Rubinstein, PhD, Jeffrey Evans, PhD, and David Meyer, PhD, conducted four experiments in which young adults switched between different tasks, such as solving math problems or classifying geometric objects. For all tasks, the participants lost time when they had to switch from one task to another. As tasks got more complex, participants lost more time. As a result, people took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs were also greater when the participants switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar. They got up to speed faster when they switched to tasks they knew better.

In a 2003 paper, Nick Yeung, Ph.D, and Monsell quantitatively modeled the complex and sometimes surprising experimental interactions between relative task dominance and task switching. The results revealed just some of the complexities involved in understanding the cognitive load imposed by real-life multi-tasking, when in addition to reconfiguring control settings for a new task, there is often the need to remember where you got to in the task to which you are returning and to decide which task to change to, when.

What the research means

According to Meyer, Evans and Rubinstein, converging evidence suggests that the human “executive control” processes have two distinct, complementary stages. They call one stage “goal shifting” (“I want to do this now instead of that”) and the other stage “rule activation” (“I’m turning off the rules for that and turning on the rules for this”). Both of these stages help people to, without awareness, switch between tasks. That’s helpful. Problems arise only when switching costs conflict with environmental demands for productivity and safety.

Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.

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11 Expert Tips To Help You Be More Productive In 2014

Last year I used a kitchen timer to force myself to focus; I blocked the Internet and email so I couldn’t get distracted; I set an auto-response on my email; I wrote a lot of to-do lists. I even started getting up earlier.

As you can see, I’m kind of obsessed with productivity. Which makes this the perfect place to be because our experts and journalists are constantly coming up with new methods to hack the conventional ways of working.

But trying to wade through so much coverage of how to do things more efficiently can get in the way of actually getting things done. So in the interest of saving you time, we’ve asked some of the most super-productive people with whom we work to share how they manage to accomplish so much:

Focus on one big task at a time

“It’s all too easy to get distracted by ‘work’ that takes up a lot of time and energy but isn’t ultimately changing your trajectory,” says David Rusenko, CEO of Weebly. “We see this all the time–entrepreneurs focus on the minutiae instead of just getting started, and getting something out there.”

Organize Your Day Into Time Blocks

Some people are early risers, some are night owls, while others hit their stride mid-day. Ekaterina Walter, CMO at Branderati, and author of Think Like Zuck, advises to figure out when during the day you are most productive then establish blocks of time get more focused work done. “You can even set a recurring email going out to people telling them not to expect an immediate reply to their emails during those times,” she says.

Do things you don’t want to do

“Remember this sentence, tape it to your monitor, tattoo it on your wrist: You don’t have to ‘feel like’ doing something in order to do it,” says Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

“When I manage to remember that, I’m no longer sidetracked by trying to get into the right frame of mind for daunting projects. Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinatory feelings. Just feel them, and simultaneously direct your limbs to do the work.”

Don’t Get Paralyzed by Perfection

“A career contribution isn’t made in a single ideal moment,” says psychologist and author Art Markman. “It is a collection of good and great moments that add up over time.”

The best project is a completed project he says. “It’s easy to get paralyzed by perfection, but it’s better to get something out the door than to hold onto it for a long time hoping to remove every flaw.”

Stay in the Moment

If you feel overwhelmed (like pretty much everyone), it might not be because you have so much to do, but rather that you are trying to do too much at the same time, says Douglas Merrill founder of ZestFinance (formerly VP of Engineering at Google).

“If you’re talking to your daughter, talk to her; don’t think about email. You can’t do two things at once–it’s physically impossible for your brain to multi-task,” he says. “Even if you don’t lower your workload, doing one thing at a time will help you do better and, equally importantly, feel better.”

Put Your Brain on Autopilot for the Small Stuff

Some super productive people don’t waste their time on the small daily decisions that take up much of our brain space. Prerna Gupta, chief product officer of social music app Smule says she’s able to tackle big picture problems by eating the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. She calls it “reducing decision fatigue.”

Write an old-fashioned to-do list

Sometimes the simplest methods are the best. “Every day, I write down the various tasks I want to accomplish and check them off as I go through them and complete them,” said Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, and author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan.

“Seeing the progress makes me feel good and, research says, more productive. It also helps me be a bit more realistic in understanding what I can accomplish every day, and which tasks are top priority,” she says.

Get an Accountability Partner

“The promises we make to ourselves are easy to break,” says Laura Vanderkam, frequent contributor and author What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “It’s much harder to call a friend on Friday and inform her that ‘I failed.’” She set up weekly check-ins and which kept her motivated to complete the first draft of a novel in 2013.

Don’t Check Facebook

Drake Baer spent most of 2013 writing about productivity, and when he needed a break he says the thing that kept him going wasn’t checking social media or email. Instead, he says he goes for a walk, gets a snack to stave off hunger, or sneaks into a conference room for a brief bit of meditation.

Deal With It Only Once

Leo Widrich cofounder of social media sharing app Buffer, says Zen Habits’ author Leo Babauta taught him the following productivity tip that has transformed the way he works:

“Deal with something only once. Do it now. Then it’s off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.”

He says the “deal with it only once” policy works for three of the most nagging aspects of everyone’s day: email, meetings, and requests for help. Answer all as soon as they come up and get them out of the way.

Escape Into Single-Tasking

Author and entrepreneur Faisal Hoque has mastered the art of doing one thing at a time. In fact he’s so good at “single-tasking,” that he can lose himself mundane task like vacuuming and help ground his focus for his work. “Being in the moment allows us to escape from adversity, conserve our inner energy, and be more consciously productive,” he says.

By Kathleen Davis

Six Google+ Tips for Businesses

Launched in June 2011 to a limited audience, Google+ (also referred to as Google Plus or G+ in some circles) has grown to a large size in just a short amount of time. In its first two weeks, Google+ boasted 10 million users.

While the platform is still in its infancy, this new social networking tool is useful for individuals wanting to network. But businesses should also get on board with the G+ revolution. Here are six tips that can help your business maximize its reach through using Google+.

1. Develop a solid “About” Page

An empty “About” page can spell disaster for your networking needs. As a business, creating a clear “About” page on Google+ will help others find you and determine in which of their Circles to place your profile.

Perhaps you have one for your business that can also function for Google+. If not, read some of these tips for creating a solid “About” page from marketing writer and consultant Tiffany Silverberg.

2. Utilize Photo Albums

People are visual creatures, and this is especially true on the Internet. Images capture emotions, feelings and actions better than words.

Businesses can use the power of Google+ to display photos of projects, staff and general office life. Assign someone to take a photo each week to be posted on the Google+ page. Using your albums is just one way you can grow your network and show the world your business is more than a corporation; it is ran by people, for the clients they serve.

3. Create and Join Industry-Related Circles

Circles are one of the best interactive tools available on Google+. You can add and create your own circles, delete ones you do not use, and search for public circles to follow. Search Google+ for professionals working in your industry to add to your Circles. You never know when that new contact will become an asset to your business!

Not sure how to use Circles? Check out Mashable’s Complete Guide to Google+ for tips.

4. Interact Regularly

A concern for anyone using a new social media platform is its staying power. Google+ is no exception. When Michael DeGusta released this chart showing that many of the management staff at Google do not use Google+, it raised many concerns.

As a business using Google+, interaction on the platform is key. This means not only passing along helpful content to your network, but interacting with it as well. Make it a goal for someone in the office to comment weekly with others in Google+.

You may want to alternate who comments, or ask someone that manages social media to do it. Pretty soon, you will find your business engaged in rich discussions and sharing your knowledge with others needing it most.

5. Share Creative Content

In order to have a solid network with other professionals in your industry, businesses must share content of value. Whether you pass along a link to your blog or share other business news, find creative ways to do it. Perhaps a video talking about an upcoming project will be a better approach than a long report.

6. Experiment with Hangouts

Business owners work hard and do not always have time for networking events. With Google+, you can take part in and host your own networking event through Hangouts. Share a presentation with colleagues or have a brief meeting with someone in another state working in your industry using Hangouts.

Need inspiration for your Google+ Hangout? Check out these ten creative ways to using Google+ Hangouts.

No matter the size of your business, Google+ is a networking platform you can utilize to meet with other professionals and get your message out into the world.

Written by M.L. Harris

How to Craft a Winning Proposal

You have many deadlines to meet at work, and a major project for your company is due soon. You have some ideas, but need more direction and help with your proposal, and are quickly running out of time. This can happen to anyone, but rather than despair at the work ahead, you can still create a great presentation and proposal that will satisfy your supervisors. Here are some strategies you can use to help craft your proposal.

Review Your Research

Before you begin working on your proposal, you must review whatever research you have done on the topic at hand. While this may require some work outside of the usual work hours, it will pay off in the end if you have your research correct and, if you need to investigate further, allows you to pinpoint what information is missing and, thus, needs more research.

If you are still working on the research when your proposal is due, use what you have in your proposal and be honest with your supervisors that you need more time or do not have answers to some of their questions. This shows them you are hard-working and want what is best for the company, even if it means you need more time to look at the proposal.

Talk to Colleagues

An asset often left untapped in the workplace, your colleagues may give you a huge advantage as you work on the proposal. They may offer advice and suggestions you may not have considered when looking at your work. Their perspective and expertise is invaluable when it comes to making a proposal that can improve the effectiveness and productivity of your company.

If you are unsure how to converse with your colleagues in the workplace, this article may help. It might feel daunting at first, but getting ideas from your coworkers can improve your proposal and may bring up solutions to problems not considered previously.

Seek Writing Help

If you have the time, get professional help with your proposal writing. Taking a course through websites such as Corporate Training Materials or consulting with a professional in your area may help you use the right terminology and structure when you make your proposal and its accompanying presentation. You can learn to craft your proposal specifically to your industry and, if the consultant is able, they may review your presentation design for any errors or visual imperfections.

Written by M.L. Harris

Business Etiquette in the 21st Century

At some point, we have all come across people with poor manners or etiquette – you know the ones that say the inappropriate things or make jokes at inappropriate times. Whatever the particular circumstances, such distasteful behavior receives a rather universal response from those who witness it, and people consequently try to avoid exhibiting such behaviors while in public.

The realm of business etiquette, however, is not quite as simple. Certainly, it does not take a genius to understand that making a crude joke or speaking at an inappropriate time are all unacceptable in a professional environment, but the finer nuances of professional etiquette remain far more complicated, and far less absolute. While crude jokes will always be considered improper, the acceptable modes of communication (and consequent formality of language) are constantly changing, and the guidelines of professional etiquette are consequently evolving.

In the following, we will look at some of the most important factors in exhibiting proper etiquette around the office in the 21st century.

i.) Be respectful and courteous – while some things have changed, others haven’t, and it remains extremely important to always be respectful and courteous to coworkers. When you have a meeting, be considerate of the attendees, and make good use of the scheduled time. That means having a previously set agenda, and providing each of the participants’ with ample notice of the meeting’s objectives, the topics being discussed, and the meeting’s duration. This allows them to adequately prepare, and assure that nobody’s time is being wasted.

In addition, always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and make an effort to acknowledge the contribution of others; few things are more frustrating than the feeling of being unnoticed, and taken for granted.

ii.) Avoid ambiguity in e-mails – this follows from the above rule, and the fact that you should always be considerate of the time of others. In the subject line of your e-mail, avoid ambiguous phrases like “Hello” or “Just one thing,” and be as specific as possible. If your e-mail is simply asking your coworker if they would like to play squash after work, the subject should be “Squash after work.”

In addition, do not use the term “urgent” unless it truly is urgent, and never type in all capital letters.

iii.) Avoid the overuse of acronyms – while some might feel they’re building a rapport with coworkers by using casual, informal language, the fact is that using acronyms such as “lol” (laughing out loud) or “ttyl” (talk to you later) makes you appear unprofessional and slightly immature. Certainly, there are many who would not be bothered by the use of abbreviations like “lol,” but for the sake of those who would be, be consistent and simply avoid the “lol’s” altogether.

There are, of course, exceptions – “asap,” for example, is a perfectly acceptable acronym for the workplace.

iv.) Avoid sending incessant text-messages – as has already been discussed, you should always respect the time of others, and sending incessant text messages can be a terrible distraction. Keep text messaging in the workplace to a minimum, and always keep messages brief, and to-the-point. (And the acronym rules do apply to text messaging as well.)

v.) Do not use social networking sites to vent about your job or your coworkers – while this should be an obvious rule, stories of employees getting fired because of their actions on Facebook and Twitter remain quite common. Just remember that once put on the internet, your words are forever in the public domain. If you need to vent, talk with your partner, or pick up the telephone and call someone. No good ever comes out of online venting.

Written By Andrea Gressman

How to Foster a Safe Work Environment

Safety at work is not usually a concern for those employed at an office. Hazards like paper cuts are usually the closest employees come to physical harm. However, it is always a good idea to review safety standards at your job and encourage others to practice safety. Following safety procedures at work can:

  • Prevents accidents that could have been avoided in the first place
  • Ensure quality communication in a time of crisis
  • Develop integrated policies in regards to company safety

Here are some ways you can promote a safer work environment in your office.

Avert Office Accidents

An easy way to promote office safety is to take measures to avoid accidents in the first place. Make sure walkways are clear of debris and wet floors are labeled so your colleagues are cautious when walking on slippery surfaces. Help someone struggling with a heavy box to prevent a fall or back injury. Read this eHow article to learn more about how to avoid accidents at work.

Discuss Emergency Situations

Not only should you consider where exits are in your building, but what is office plan if the worst happens. Review standards with your colleagues for natural disasters and emergencies like fires. The meeting does not have to be long or occur frequently, but having occasional discussions on safety is essential. Preparing for the worst can help you take any precautions and help you to better anticipate the difficulties that can occur in an emergency.

Review Procedures for Injuries at Work

Not only do employees need to be aware of disaster situations, but they should also be prepared about procedures if they are hurt on the job. Worker’s compensation can help employees who are hurt at work get back on their feet. Usually, a company’s human resource department coordinates with the injured employee on compensation and any time they need off to recuperate from injuries.

Companies in many countries like the U.S. are required by law to tell employees their policies and procedures for worker’s compensation situations. Talk to your supervisor or consult your employee manual if you have questions about their policies. A great online resource for safety at work can be found at

Written by M.L. Harris

Adding Contacts in Taskwise

In order to be able to use some of the features and functions of Taskwise like sharing lists & assigning tasks; it is necessary to have somebody to be able to share, email or assign these tasks and lists with.

One way to connect with people that are already on Taskwise is to use the search tool located in the Contact Manager. To find somebody here simply type a name in the search toolbar and a list of names will appear.

If they are not already using Taskwise another way to add contacts it to simply invite friends & co-workers to use Taskwise by email in the Social Feed, under the “invite your friends” title highlighted in blue shown below.

Now once your family, friends & co-workers have accepted your invitation(s) to become part of your contacts on Taskwise you can begin to share & email lists and assign tasks.

Published By: M. Lostracco

Email tasks to your Taskwise account

When working on your Outlook or any other email client, no matter the device, and you just think of a task you want to include in your lists. You can write it in an email and send it to your Taskwise account. It as easy as that! And both FREE & PRO users of Taskwise can use it.

Now in order to do this use the following steps:

1. Every time you send a task through your email, sent it to

2. All tasks sent via email, will be saved in your Taskwise account and will automatically create a new folder called Inbox, which will contain the list of Received Tasks.

Please notice that these steps will be based on the fact of using the same email account that was used to sign up with Taskwise. If you want to use different email accounts all you need to do is follow one simple step in order to validate these other accounts:

Go to your Profile and type the email addresses from which you wish to send the tasks to, located in the section that reads Emails for task sending. Then click on Save profile and your done.

Published by J.Ruiz

5 Practices that Boost Creativity

It is easy to feel bored or uninspired at work. Perhaps you feel burned out from the amount or type of work you have to do, or long for that upcoming vacation. If you are having trouble coming up with fresh ideas for projects or presentations, try some of these ideas to improve your outlook and get your creative juices flowing!

1. Take Breaks

Sitting at your desk for hours at a time can drain your energy and inspiration. Taking a break away from your desk can help you recharge and come up with ideas. If the weather is nice, take a walk outside. The sunshine and fresh air may inspire you to come up with ideas you had not considered.

2. Change Routines

Tedium can set in if your routine becomes too familiar, making workdays feel endless and projects difficult. Director of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina Camille Stell writes in her article for Carolina Paralegal News recommends changing your routine to shake things up. Whether that means changing where you park or taking a different route to your desk, changing up your routine from the usual.

3. Try a Mind Map

While a fairly traditional way to come up with ideas, creating a mind map can help you brainstorm ideas effectively. One way to make a mind map is to put the problem you are dealing with in the center of a page of paper, and write out ideas from it that extend outwards like branches on a tree. Fast Company’s Work Smart videos, like this one, can help you come up with other ways to use mind mapping in your work.

4. Use Mental Priming

Finding inspiration from hard-working mentors or colleagues can help you begin to develop your own ideas. But did you know you can increase your creativity thinking about people like Lady Gaga?’s article, “How to Enhance Creativity,” discusses mental priming, which is the idea that thinking of someone who inspires you in some way can help you develop creative expression.

5. Discuss Ideas with Others

Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. In other words, an innovative idea may emerge, but you have trouble finding it among other thoughts. Talking out your ideas with colleagues may help you uncover some gems and better define what you struggled with assignments previously.

Written by M.L. Harris

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