Have you heard of Duolingo? It’s a remarkable app that teaches languages. In fact, you can learn over 40 languages. More than 500 million people use Duolingo. Do you know why? Because it works.

I’ve previously learned Italian and it really enhanced my month in Italy. I’ve brushed up on my German too, which my German mother would have been pleased about. And now I am learning Spanish.

The creators of Duolingo have ensured you just can’t not learn a new language. But this is not an ad for the app. This is a look at how organisers can apply the learning principles to their work in order to help clients learn new skills and routines to get and stay organised. It’s all about gamification.

The app encourages you to keep a daily streak going. Complete a single lesson each day and you are rewarded with “gems” and fun icons, giving you a small dopamine hit. This daily practice ensures you embed the learnings of all the previous days. Lose your streak by missing a week of practice and you’ll have lost some momentum as well as knowledge. It’s the same for organising skills and routines for our clients. How can we help them to keep going with a daily streak? A simple win from a daily task completed is all it takes to start building skills and routines, and feeling good about the achievements.Duolingo progress

The lessons are designed for success. The app is not trying to trip you up and make learning hard. It wants you to succeed. One word, one verb, one accent or umlaut (e.g. á or ä) and one sentence at a time. If you get something wrong in a lesson, you have the chance to do over. For our clients, it’s important to introduce new concepts in a way and at a pace that builds success. Building success into our client sessions builds confidence as well as skills.

There are many rewards along the way with the Duolingo app. Gems give you points to climb the weekly league ladder. Completing a unit gives you 15 minutes of double points and boy, does that motivate me to do a few more lessons. Our clients can benefit from rewards to motivate action. Rewards could range from a virtual high five to an encouraging message to a night off from cooking. Let your clients identify the rewards that would motivate them.

Duolingo Friends Quests let you join with a friend to earn points and bonuses. This is just like the body doubling that we know works for our clients. Body doubling doesn’t always have to be in person. It could be a virtual session with you or a phone chat with a friend while they complete their decluttering or organising quest.

Finally, the app offers you the choice about whether to receive reminders. I do like to receive them, but if you prefer not to, you could always add your own reminder to your smartphone at a time when you’re likely to be able to drop everything and do a quick lesson. It’s important for our clients that we customise how they want to receive reminders and communications. Too often and they can become white noise. Too little and they could be ineffective. At the wrong time and they could be annoying.

If you’d like to learn a new language, you know what to do. If you’d like to help your client succeed in learning new organisational skills and embedding new routines, try to gamify their experience. If you’d like to know more, get in touch.


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