The web is full of interesting services. Twitter, Facebook, and reddit have changed the way we consume information and communicate with each other. Try to imagine life without your favorite web apps. We can’t comprehend how we got by before Google Calendar, the be-all end-all of our planning and organization.
Out of all those services, none are quite like Shuffle My Life. It’s a new service that aims to change how you approach each day and force you to try something new. That seems ambitious and oddly zen for a single website. Does it work? Is this worth trying? We found out with some hands-on testing.
Shuffling your life, one challenge at a time
The idea behind Shuffle My Life is to present the user with a series of challenges that force him/her to go slightly outside his/her comfort zone.
The challenges tend toward the mundane rather than the absurd. Shuffle My Life will never ask you to run across six lanes of traffic in a rabbit suit or anything like that.
The main idea is to get the user to try something new. That something varies from challenge to challenge. There are all kinds of categories from fitness to creative to offbeat.
Challenges are displayed on the website, which is accessible from essentially any platform. It’s all static webpages. You don’t even need Flash.
Most devices will access Shuffle My Life through the site. There is an Android app, but it’s a glorified in-app browser that displays a mobile version of the site.
There are some buttons at the bottom for sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Google Calendar. The Facebook and GCal links don’t open those apps but rather bring up the mobile browser and open those sites.
The Twitter link can at least open a Twitter app, although it offers to share a useless URL. How is anyone supposed to comprehend that without context?
The app is not great.
Conversely, the website is nice. To a new visitor, the site displays random challenges. Things improve when you sign up for an account.
Users can track their completed challenges, see other users and follow their progress. They can see global challenge activity as well. If you’re feeling creative, you can suggest your own tasks.
When you complete a task, it asks you to fill in what happened. This makes it into a kind of journal rather than a simple achievement system.
The origin story
Developer James Gadsby explained the beginnings of Shuffle My Life. “I was in the middle of a break from university and was in a real rut, bored with my life at the time,” he said.
“I had read much about different theories of happiness – how it’s not always necessarily true that someone’s happiness is entirely under their control, and how sometimes it’s just something that happens by chance that leads to a whole chain of events – suddenly they find themselves in an entirely different situation and they are definitely not ‘in a rut.’
“So I knew I had to build something which took, to some extent, free time out of my own hands.”
Gadsby said the goal behind the service was to create “event chains” in users’ lives. “The aim for people isn’t necessarily to complete the task itself… but to see what is triggered along the way.
“A walk to the park when you might not have done otherwise might cause you to bump into a girl you’re attracted to and you end up with her number. A meeting with friends at a bar might have myriad other results.”
Does it work?
In short, yes. Shuffle My Life is absolutely worth trying. While it did not change our life in a major way, it made things interesting and different.
We especially liked the challenges. They’re well-written and compelling. Some are silly (cleaning as much as possible in 12 seconds) while others are oddly deep (give someone advice in only nine words).
We tried a few challenges and liked them. We listened to a random musical genre on internet radio (ambient), sketched out some life goals for the next year, jogged in place for 17 seconds and wrote a two-paragraph short story about a tall man in a cave with a table.
It was enlightening. Ambient music has its charms. It’s nice for background music but not to our musical taste. The short story was awful, although we had fun writing it.
The challenges are clever and genuinely charming. Shuffle My Life has a certain warmth and appeal. We liked it.
If you’re interested in trying some new activities, check out the website for Shuffle My Life or download the Android app.
Keep an eye out for future improvements. Gadsby is testing the the next version of the service which will add “user accounts, task histories, a leveling system, categories, comments, and following friends.”
You can help testing by trying out the alpha version. This is one service that deserves the help. With some new features, a revamped app, and serious user base, this could be really good.
Not many web apps intentionally aim to inspire users to do something new, but Shuffle My Life does. That’s remarkable.
Gadsby said helping users is the goal for Shuffle My Life. “I like that idea – that it’s subtly or even fundamentally changing people’s lives for the better.”