Let me tell you about a rather fun, and oddly surprising, way to build healthy habits, get rid of bad habits, and be more productive. It’s called Habitica. I wish I could take credit for finding this gem all on my own, but like many of the best things in life, it took a team effort. A friend asked my husband and me (yes, that is grammatically correct) if we’d ever heard of this productivity game. We hadn’t. That was almost the end of the story.
You see, I haven’t had much luck in the past using games to learn new things or be more productive so I didn’t check it out right away. Buuut… the fact that I hadn’t bothered to even look at it was making me feel guilty. So I followed the link she sent.
Lo and behold, it wasn’t like the rest. Yes, you get penalized if you don’t do your stuff, but there’s a way to not get penalized if you’re sick or on vacation! They definitely had my attention with that, because that was my biggest pet peeve with the others… losing points or progress if you missed a day because, heaven forbid, life dealt you crazy hand that day or week.
The first things you need to know are that Habitica is an RPG/adventure type game, it’s free, and it’s super easy to set up. When you create an account you get to create a character (a warrior – but don’t worry, you can change to another class at 10th level). You also create three task lists: Habits, Dailies, and To-Do’s.
Habits can be bad habits you want to break – you’ll lose points every time you click the minus (-) next to them, or good habits you want to nurture and grow – you’ll gain points every time you click the plus (+) next to them. You can also create habits that have a positive as well as a negative aspect to them. (One of mine is Facebook: (+) if I do a task before checking FB, (-) if I check Facebook instead of doing a task.)
Dailies are things that have to be done on a regular basis. They can be specific or somewhat vague (one of mine is “clean 1 thing”). Dailies is a bit of a misnomer because you can set the days of the week you want to do them. I have a couple tasks that need to be done on work days only, another couple that only get done on weekends, and of course several that have to be done every day. Once you create a Daily, simply edit it to change the days it needs to be done. You get points for each daily you do, and you lose points for each daily you leave undone at the end of the day.
To-Do’s are just what they sound like. They’re things you need to do, but they’re not repeatable on a daily or weekly basis. Many of them will be one offs. Once you create a To-Do, you can edit it and add a due date, a tag (like chore, exercise, creativity, etc.), or add a checklist of smaller tasks that, when done, will mean the task is complete. You get more points for tasks that have checklists, but not every task needs one so only add them when they make sense. You also get points for items that have been on your list longer, but don’t think that gives you a license to procrastinate… that’s not the point of this game.
So that’s the nuts and bolts. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you a little about gameplay. First, I was super impressed by the way they don’t require any distracting actions to further game play. All game play is furthered by your completion of habits, dailies, and To-Dos. Woo Hoo. Second, You will randomly find things like eggs (from which you can hatch a pet), hatching potions, and pet food, but if you don’t do anything with them, that’s OK. There’s an achievement for finding them all, but that’s a long way in the future. If you do decide to hatch some pets it literally takes a few seconds to do that. Same with feeding the pets. The best part about the pets is that they won’t starve if you don’t feed them. Like I said, no distracting actions.
No RPG/adventure game would be complete without quests, and Habitica has a few of its own. Here’s the genius of the game… you get to have more fun and be more productive with friends. Each quest has a goal which is accomplished by checking off good habits, dailies, and To-Dos from their respective lists. The more people in your questing party the quicker the quest is completed. You’ll each have many of the same quests, so you can do everybody’s quests… the more people in your questing party, the more quests, and therefore the more motivation to keep working on your lists to get the quest items you need . It’s like having an accountability partner who’s also your gaming buddy.
If you have no use for games and think having fun is childish, this is obviously NOT the way for you to break bad habits (not that you have any of those… you don’t have time for that sort of nonsense), build healthy habits, and get through your to-do list more easily. Might I suggest good old fashioned will power.
If, however, you believe that all work and no play is boring and will probably cause you to binge on something you shouldn’t (Netflix, junk food, alcohol, etc.) and you have at least one friend who feels the same way, this might your ticket to productivity.