“Motivate yourself to do anything.”
The above is what greets you when you first load up the Habitica (formerly HabitRPG) page. (Daunting, maybe.)
I remember my partner sending me the link and I passed at first. I have Google Calendar, wayy too many email accounts, and along with maintaining multiple blogs, personal Facebook, Facebook pages, multiple Twitter accounts, the occasional Instagram, checking out Reddit for the latest and greatest… Who has the time? Another site that I have to log onto every morning when I start my routine? No way!
It wasn’t until my brother sent me the link again and he said he was going to sign up. There is something certainly special about a bond with your siblings and where you once were able to spend a lot of time with each other growing up, that ‘luxury’ comes scarce as we get older. My brother isn’t a fan of social media – we chat on texts and Discord so as soon as I see another opportunity to connect – I take it. And so we signed up… Little did we know, we also became each other’s “gym buddies”.
As of today, we’ve both been using Habitica for nearly 2 months.
So, how exactly does Habitica work, any way?
I will say first and foremost that Habitica takes some effort from you when you initially set things up. Like most self-help methods and goal planning, Habitica requires you to do some thinking. However, they’ve made it extremely easy by setting up 3 major categories:
- Habits: What kind of changes do you want to make in your life/lifestyle?
- Dailies: What do you want to accomplish in your daily life?
- Tasks: What are some things you need to complete?
It took me approximately 2-3 hours over 48 hours to come up with my initial goals and most recently I spent another hour or so revising for the new year.
While I use Habitica mostly for this trifecta backbone of tasks… The biggest selling feature of Habitica is the community, and the fun ‘gameification’ of your own life. Many companies find success with making consumerism into a game: sometimes Starbucks will reward you with points if you buy a coffee on the weekend before 10AM, Shoppers Drug Mart will offer bonus points if you spend a certain amount on a certain item. Not just companies, but mobile games such as Hearthstone, Tsum Tsum and Pokemon Go utilize the concept of ‘dailies’ to keep their users logging in. With Habitica, the better you do with keeping up with your dailies, and checking off your tasks – the more your character will level up, and gain currency that you can use to purchase new armor, and a chance to open up a chest that can grant exclusive items, experience points, or items for pets. (Oh yes, there are pets…)
In addition, there is a party system (of course there is) where your friends can create a party, and fight against bosses for bonus points or exclusive items. Some of the bosses have rules like everyone in the party must finish their dailies, or everyone in the party takes damage – another incentive and mechanic to keep everyone in your party motivated and on top of things.
Interested? Feel free to check out the official Habitica “How it Works” page.
How does it work in your life?
In a world of online validation, I really enjoy that Habitica works precisely against that idea.
Your habits, dailies, and tasks are up to you and the satisfaction of achievement from completing the things that you have decided to work on is your own. No one can see what you are supposed to be working on. It encourages support, and not competition.
I’m unfortunately one of those beings attached to their mobile phone so for me, being able to check off dailies and double checking the tasks that I am supposed to be working on comes naturally to me. As someone who is in technology and computing technology, Habitica suits my lifestyle almost perfectly.
For my own personal planning, I used to use exclusively Google Calendar and I would plan out my day with exactly what I needed to do. At 10AM, I needed to call my doctor to make an appointment, at some point in the afternoon – day between 2PM and 3PM – I was to pay off my VISA bill, in the evening, I would need to vacuum, and in the late late evening, I would have to do a batch of photo culling and editing… But life gets in the way, and soon, I forgot to vacuum on one day and forget all about it…. Then I would try to move the appointment to the next day, and then again, I wouldn’t get around to it, so I would have to move it another day. And then again. You get the picture.
That’s what Habitica has been great for: reminders (for self-care and multiple project completion) and my to-do list (that never ever ends I swear).
OK, let’s start with the “Pros” – what’s Habitica great for?
This is probably the weirdest thing I will ever say but: I love having a never ending to-do list. What I really mean is that I love having a concise to-do list, being able to break it down into sub-tasks, and continue on. Typically in my solo Google Calendar days, I would have a paper to-do list and once that was done, either the list would get lost, or that I would cross everything off and then not add to it. Habitica gives you a very visual representation of what you have on your ‘plate’.
It looks like the devs have done the research as well: you’re rewarded with achievements once your dailies hit a 21-day streak. And as researched before, it takes 21 days to make something a habit. For a while anyway.
If you’re not too sure where to start, many Habitica users create community challenges if you need some support and direction.
Another vital element to successful games is constant updates. Habitica always offers something new and fresh – the devs are always actively trying to get users to get involved, and for Christmas, they rolled out items exclusive for the winter season. I also decided to subscribe for a year to get gems, and access to exclusive items/backgrounds. I also wanted to support the devs since Habitica is a FREE service!
While I think the pixel art could leave something to be desired with the avatars, I do love that there are many representations from different skin tones (even some rainbow, fictional colours), as well as wheelchairs, and animal ears. As someone who is a closet neko girl and used to wear cat ears out in public in high school, I think it’s great that you can create an avatar that you feel represents you. Customization is always important in games!
What about Habitica’s “Cons”?
While I have next to no complaints about Habitica, there are a few shortfalls. The most major one doesn’t have anything to do with the Habitica app itself, but it relies purely on your own motivation. Because you are creating your own boundaries, it’s possible that someone won’t be challenging themselves as much as they are able to. I know for myself, I should probably add more negative points in my ‘Habits’. I should…. But I also worry for myself that I will feel defeated and punishing myself all the time would be awful. It’s up to the individual!
Another shortfall of Habitica is again, not Habitica‘s fault: it’s also possible that someone would be relying on Habitica to remember all the things they need to do. Maybe that’s not so much a bad thing, though. I’m of the belief where the human brain can only hold so much, so if you can offload your mind of “things to do” on your plate, and focus on putting that energy into productivity, maybe that’s better energy spent.
As of today, the current version of the app (I use the iOS version) is not the best. I wholeheartedly suggest to use the website version to set up your Habitica. The app can be a bit buggy and I have experienced my tasks being out of order, which can be aggravating for me since I intentionally have my tasks in a specific order. Hopefully this can be resolved in the future.
Lastly, even though my love for Habitica is fairly high, I can’t see it being the most optimal tool for long term projects. Sure you can use Habitica to break some tasks down, but for a very large project such as KonMari, making a game, writing a novel… I’ve been using Trello for a week, and I think Trello is a better tool for keeping track of project aspects. Habitica can certainly act as an aid, though, as you can make it a ‘Habit’ (or ‘Daily’ if you’re a boss!) to work on your long term projects.
Ready to dive in?
If you’re having troubles focusing, enjoying gaming, don’t have any current productivity tools, Habitica is an amazing beginner’s tool to taking on the things you need to do in your life.
While the tool itself won’t magically improve your life, it will certainly aid your own sense of improvement if you are willing and follow through with putting in the thought and time for it. With that said, (and all I can think of is the Netflix show 3% when I say this) you deserve it.
If words and screenshots aren’t enough, here’s the official Habitica trailer, released last January in 2016: