Nafilah Khan

Senior Editor

“How was your day off?”

“It was great; I enjoyed running errands!”

“Enjoyed?”

This conversation happens more often than you might imagine amongst my classmates and myself. Just a disclaimer: in case you have not guessed, contrary to many individuals, I LOVE running errands! It’s fun for me, and I’ll explain why.

During the school year I don’t have “free time” often. However, when I do have a couple hours, I really enjoy running errands. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, errands are “a short journey either to take a message or to take or collect something,” for those of you unfamiliar with the exact terminology. I find them to be a break for me from all my studying and assignments. The change in environment really recharges me—I’ve often noticed that when I return to work after running errands, I function more effectively.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a chore as “a job or piece of work often boring or unpleasant but needs to be done regularly.” I would like to take this moment to highlight the words “boring” and “unpleasant”—individuals who consider running errands a chore often associate boredom and/or unpleasantness with that experience, which causes many individuals to consider running errands a distraction from what they want to be doing.

I know that for myself personally, an example of a chore is mowing the lawn. Whenever I do need to mow the lawn, I try to finish the job as fast as I can (safely of course) so that I can get back to doing whatever I was doing prior. This mindset never allows me to enjoy mowing the lawn; meanwhile the task I paused to complete this chore keeps roaming around at the back of mind, and making the experience miserable.

However, I don’t have this mindset whilst running errands. Even though I know that I need to get back home and study, I don’t feel the need to make my errand experience miserable by thinking of it as something boring that I need to get over with—i.e. a chore. This might be because I like to think of running errands as a sort of scavenger hunt. I associate the experience of running errands with something I do enjoy: playing games.

A scavenger hunt? Yes! I use gamification to make my errand running experience more engaging and fun. For example, before going into a grocery store, I look at the time and tell myself that I need to be out of the store within a fixed time limit, say for example ten minutes. If I do leave the store within ten minutes with everything that I initially planned to buy, this is equivalent to me beating a level in my ‘running errands’ game. Likewise, the next time I go to the same store to get the same things, I try to challenge myself even further, by cutting my time limit to nine and half minutes and so on. If I return home with everything I had planned on getting, I consider the level complete. However, if I missed something and/or failed to get home within the time I had challenged myself to, I consider that level a failure.

Gamifying running errands as a scavenger hunt makes me feel more accomplished by the end of it, which then motivates me to hit the books and study! In fact, I’ve come to realize that I can use this analogy for pretty much ANYTHING I don’t enjoy doing, including mowing the lawn!

So if you too are not a fan of something, try making it a game, and perhaps you might not dislike it as much as you thought you did!

 

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