Admittedly, I’m a new tech junkie. When I got my iPad a few years ago succumbed to app fever. And when the iPhone became a part of my life, I was totally lost on finding the BEST productivity app. Because an app surely beats a basic list on a piece of paper, right?
Eh, not so much. I tried basic paper lists, a fancy-schmancy Day-Timer, Wunderlist, Google Calendar… I mean, if there’s a list out there that shows fifty great productivity apps, I have surely attempted to use half of them. Unfortunately, I have an issue keeping lists up-to-date, and (ahem) actually doing stuff on the lists.
And then I found Habitica.
Habitica is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you, and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.
I balked. Would a childish video game suit a (more or less) responsible adult over 50? Umm, yep. It certainly beats clicking a checkmark for a task completed or (after I’ve searched high and low -or electronically- for a paper list) crossing an item off a list. Because every time you complete a task in Habitica, you get points. And points raise your score, drop goodies, and get you virtual pets.
Of course, pure self motivation should be enough to carry me through most tasks, right? Wrong. Doesn’t work. Very little actually motivates me to get anything done, especially “For the sake of a job well done.”l
I’d rather read a book. Or surf the web. Or ANYTHING other than tackle dust bunnies. Or that stack of dirty dishes. Or scoop the cat litter. Or…. you get the idea. And the story I tell is that I don’t clean because I have other interests – which I do – but then I don’t work at those either. I’m not lazy, I’m creatively distracted…
(And I can hear you all saying, “Sure, Julie, you’re creatively distracted.”)
Admittedly, many of the players seem much younger – they’re worried about completing homework, organizing a class project, researching colleges, or preparing for a test. But with a full time job, a house to maintain, a blog, and learning how to speak a little Spanish for my trip to Peru in December, I’ve got a lot going on. Each of these can be broken down into smaller steps with Habits, Tasks and To Dos.
Habits, Tasks, and To Dos
Habitica is grounded in three broad categories of habits, tasks, and todos.
- Habits are behaviors. For example, I want to change my behavior to drink more water and less soda. Every time I drink water instead of reaching for soda, I get points.
- Tasks are typically repetitive things to do, For example, wash the dishes, make the bed, take out the trash. For every item I complete a task, I earn more points..
- To Dos, on the other hand, are one off things that need to get done. This really came into use when I had a power surge in my house that resulted in an insurance claim. I created a ToDo, added a checklist, and carried on; I checked off things, added to things until the claim was completed and the todo done.
Challenges are friendly competitions that keep you motivated. For example, if you have a hard time keeping your kitchen clean (yep!) there are several challenges. One (that I can’t find anymore!) had a whole host of typical tasks that needed to be done in the kitchen. I did the challenge for a bit, but found it overwhelming. So I left the official challenge, kept the tasks, and changed it up to match my style. The result: a whole long list of little tasks to do in the kitchen that rotate on a monthly basis: straighten pantry, tidy fridge and freezer, sweep or mop the floor, wipe down fronts of appliances, and so on. That’s the beauty of Habitica – you can change it up and customize to work for you and your life.
Not only are there practical housekeeping challenges, but also fun challenges like “Read X Books per Month” or -one of my favorites- “Watch Every Star Trek Episode and Movie.” By subscribing to Amazon Prime last year, I embarked on a year-long voyage and sallied through the various television permutations: Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, The Original Series, and The Next Generation. I thought I just had the movies remaining when -oops- the Habitica challenge reminded me about The Animated Series. I eventually watch every single Star Trek related item!
Victory Is Mine
Ultimately, the quantification is making a difference. Every day I look at my habits and tasks to see what I need to get accomplished. Then I make it happen and make some gold to raise my points. If life gets crazy busy, you can “Rest In The Inn” – a PG-13 Tavern where you can take a day off or catch up on interesting conversation. And there’s a whole social and open source community I haven’t even begun to explore.
I can see that Habitica would be terrific for younger folks in school. And if you were raised on old school computer games like Adventure or Myst, this is definitely your kind of thing: try it out for work, health, or a bucket list. There’s a private option on the way for families; just imagine the whole family questing together to conquer the beast of clutter. There is also a custom option available for smaller organizations or groups.
Best of all, I am actually meditating most every day and getting stuff done on my to-do list. My yard is mowed, and my house is (getting) cleaner. At Level 10, I’ve just become a Mage and am looking forward to exploring those capabilities. I’m also gathering potions and have my sites set on hatching all 90 Pets. One of these days I’ll join a quest so I can chase down coveted items by making things happen.
Look out Level 20 – I’m on my way!