happy Indian man celebrating accomplishment at desk | productivity bingo
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There’s a reason why people call day-to-day chores the “daily grind.” Dishes, laundry, cleaning, flossing, studying, doing homework, eating well—everyone has tasks that they don’t enjoy doing, and may let them slide. 

The thing is, when these tasks are left undone, they start to pile up. If left for too long, it can start to feel like you’ve done nothing at all. Luckily, there’s something you can do to make the daily grind more exciting: Turn it into a game!   

Get more done with Productivity Bingo

animated check box | productivity bingoProductivity Bingo is a lot like regular bingo, only instead of someone standing at the front of a room and calling out a letter and number, you check off squares as you complete tasks and chores. When you’ve checked off five squares in a row, you can treat yourself to a reward of your choosing. Maybe that’s enjoying a night out with friends (or a night in with a good book), playing an hour of video games, or sipping a fancy beverage from the local café. Your reward is up to you: You get to pick how you want to treat yourself for being productive. 

How to play Productivity Bingo:

  1. Pick a reward/prize. If you like the element of surprise, you can also write down a handful of rewards on slips of paper, keep them in a small cup, and pick one each time you “win.”
  2. Set a time frame. This can be a single day, a week, or even a whole month.
  3. Write a list of things you’d like to do during that time frame. This can include self-care items too, like making time for hobbies (e.g., “paint for one hour”). 
  4. Make a bingo card (five-by-five grid).
  5. Mark the middle square “FREE.”
  6. Pick 24 items from your to-do list and write one in each square on the grid. 
  7. Cross off each task as you complete it.
  8. When you get five in a row—aka BINGO—you get to treat yourself to the reward of your choosing.

Productivity bingo card with various chores and tasks listed

Productivity Bingo

  • Study for Friday’s test
  • Pay phone bill
  • Catch film screening on campus
  • Change bedsheets
  • Call Mom
  • Make appointment with advisor
  • Paint for 1 hour
  • Try a new recipe
  • Take a walk
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water
  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Do laundry
  • Free space
  • Update resume
  • Do homework for 1 hour without checking social
  • Floss
  • Respond to discussion post for lit class
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Meet Joa for coffee
  • Attend kickboxing class
  • Bike to class
  • Prep lunch for tomorrow
  • Go to bed by midnight
  • Schedule annual physical
  • Host poker tourney

Why it works

Productivity Bingo uses principles of a behavior change method called “token economy” (sometimes called “token reinforcement”). The idea behind token economy is relatively simple: When a person receives a reward—or “token”—for completing a task or behaving a certain way, they’re more likely to repeat that task or behavior in the future. 

Tokens can come in a lot of different forms, such as dropping a coin into a glass jar each time you bike to class or, in this case, crossing off a box on a bingo card each time you floss. And while crossing off a box might not sound like much of a reward, having a visual reminder of the goals you’ve completed can be pretty powerful. Plus, when you pair this with the prize you’ll earn when you get a bingo, it creates a whole lot of incentive to finish your tasks!

animated check box | productivity bingoScience backs up this behavior change method, too. In one study of elementary school-aged students, researchers found that rewarding students with fake “lottery tickets”—for tasks like completing assignments or following school rules—encouraged those students to behave more calmly in class compared to students who didn’t receive the lottery tickets. 

In other words, Productivity Bingo provides both that warm, fuzzy feeling of task completion and motivation to keep crossing boxes off your bingo card. 

Setting realistic goals

Having big goals is great, but it’s important that your bingo card contains items you can realistically complete in the time frame you’ve chosen. And if you don’t do every item on the card, that’s OK. The purpose of Productivity Bingo is not to become a superhuman overnight; it’s to practice setting and achieving realistic goals—and to celebrate your accomplishments.


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Article sources

Hackenberg, T. (2009). Token reinforcement: A review and analysis. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 91(2). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2648534/

Glasscot, T., & Belfiore, P. J. (2019). The effects of token reinforcement, in the form of a lottery, on noncompliance in an urban third grade classroom. Psychology and Behavioral Science International Journal, 13(5). DOI: 10.19080/PBSIJ.2019.13.555874