Small Gamification Part 2: Todoist Karma


Today I want to talk about an application named Todoist that can help us boost our everyday productivity and motivation.

Todoist is a project management application used to help users monitor their productivity. It’s a cross platform application which means that it will run on your smartphone, tablet and computer.

The basic premise of the app is quite simple. The user puts in the system the tasks they have to complete each day and when a task is done he flags it as complete. The application keeps track of how many tasks you completed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Todoist works perfectly as a digital To Do list reminding you of what you need to do by when.

In 2013 the ‘Karma’ element was added to the app. Todoist Karma introduced gamification techniques to the app that aim to further motivate people to keep on being productive.

Let’s have a look at the various gamification elements that are built into the app.


After each task is completed, the user gets awarded karma points for that task. The application keeps track of your points, how many days you completed tasks in a row and so on.

There is an ongoing discussion in the gamification community about points, leaderboards and badges being very superficial elements of gamification. What I say to people though is it’s not the tool’s fault if people misuse it. Points, leaderboards and badges all have their place in games and in gamification too.

I think that points are a good way to keep track of the users overall progress in Todoist. They give a nice visual feedback on the progress of the player. The problem with a point system is that you can’t really compare productivities between users and I will give you an example why.

Let’s say for example that Pete and I both use Todoist to keep track of our preparation for a new gamification workshop. Pete is far more experienced than me in the gamification world so he may put in a task like “New Gamification Workshop”. I am not as experienced as Pete so I will break this down to remember it and put in tasks like “Research for Gamification Workshop” and “PowerPoint for Workshop”. That way I have completed two tasks while Pete has completed one and we did exactly the same thing! So points on Todoist are a good indicator on how far you have come but not o much are you more productive compared to someone else.

That’s why I think it’s really wise not to put leaderboards in Todoist and I tip my hat to the designers for that as it would cause all kinds of problems between users.

Task Categories

I always like customisation in the apps or games I use and play. Todoist offers that by letting users set their own categories of tasks.

You can organize your tasks in different categories so you can monitor productivity in different parts of your life. For example, you can have personal tasks or professional tasks. I can put something in like “Music tasks” because I play music in my free time or I can put a “Gamification+ Social Media tasks” category.

Different task categories get allocated different colours so you can monitor them on your daily feedback screen. This way you have instant feedback on which areas of your life need a bit more work than others. Maybe one month I want to play more music because last month I didn’t play as much or maybe I want to work more on the company’s social media. Having monthly feedback is quite helpful I think in order to have a good balance between the different parts of your job or life in general.


Once again, small gamification is possible. Todoist is a tool that everyone can use for free in order to keep an eye on their daily productivity. You can spend a little money and get even more features unlocked.

Where I think that Todoist really proves our point on gamification being available to everyone is the business version. For a really small amount of money you can help the employees of your organisation collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Stay tuned for more small gamification case studies and please use the #smallgamification hashtag to point out more cases so we can talk about them!

About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Subscribe to get the latest updates