Mindful Moments: Stories and Lessons of Procrastination

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Archive for April 2010

Games as Motivation? Microsoft’s Ribbon Hero

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Microsoft office is in a bit of trouble due to the free alternatives out there (Open Office and Google Docs in particular). So, in my opinion, they’re not about to win over many new tech savvy converts for their oh so expensive Office Suite. Maybe that’s partly why they’re prioritizing creative techniques to help less tech savvy users learn their software.

Whatever the reason, putting out a web game to help you learn how to use their programs is a cool idea. Ribbon Hero is a very interesting experiment in a game environment that walks users through tutorials about Microsoft software.

My question for the internet? How motivating is Ribbon Hero to use? Does having a leader board where you can compare scores with other Ribbon Heroes motivating? Is the game fun enough to enrich your learning experience? Does it successfully put you in a cognitive state that helps you learn? The people at Education Arcade have a lot to say about motivation through games.

Most importantly, what can we learn from this software about how to motivate ourselves?

I’m going to sniff around the internet for a bit and see if I can collect some people’s answers on the topic. (As for myself, I was turned off by the videos about Ribbon Hero. So instead of forcing myself to try something that failed to draw me in I’m choosing a more scholarly approach to learning about it.) I’ll update when I have more to share.

OK… the blogosphere hasn’t sated my thirst on this one yet. CNET just describes Ribbon Hero, ZDNET writes a fawning puff piece, and Web Strategist Blog publishes some interesting suggestions for how to improve it. But no description of what it’s like to actually use it.


Written by clayward

April 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Posted in fun

The Virtual Workspace Quagmire

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OK, so a lot of us are self employed these days. According to fastcompany.com working smart for yourself is a question of three disciplines: time management, money management, and expectations management. That’s a lot of managing for a one human shop.

Their recommendation for time management? To help make a psychological transition to work without the physical commute. They suggest that a familiar, comfortable and isolated work environment is important. “The key is to train your brain that when you’re in this space, it’s time to work.” Good advice!

But what about our virtual work environments? As soon as our workday touches the internet we’re placed in virtual environments which are usually designed to keep our attention for as long as possible. In short, the internet can take us out of our carefully constructed work environment as easily as any physical distraction can. That’s why I talk about a virtual workspace quagmire (I love saying “quagmire”.)

So how can we procrastinate less when we’re working online? The choice seems to be between going cold turkey, learning from feedback, and creating incentives for yourself. Leechblock helps you block off websites you’ve pre-programmed during set business hours. ProcrasDonate gives you a procrastination gauge at the top of your screen so you can always see how you’re doing and also lets you set up a charitable incentive to improve your time management.

As one of the founders of ProcrasDonate I have tried our system and I actually find it fun to use. But I’d love to hear about your experience using these or other solutions. What works for you?

Written by clayward

April 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Posted in tips, work space