Habitica & Me

True confession part 1: I love productivity tools & time management toys. Daytimers, to-do lists, reminder programs, bullet journals, planners, calendars, I adore them all.

True confession part 2: I never use them. Every tool designed to get life organized requires its own maintenance. They all add layers of structure and labor atop the labor involved in completing the actual tasks, which is the last burden I need when I’m already struggling to Do The Work.

Purgatory is having “keep track of work” be its own job on top of all the other jobs. Not only do I have to feel guilty for not getting the bathroom cleaned (for example) but I have to feel guilty about either a) putting it on the list and failing to check it off,  b) failing to even get the task onto a list or c) losing the list AND not getting The Thing done.

Then there’s the hassle of going through all the work of making new lists that look just like the old lists, bulleting all the usual points over and over, copying last week’s reminders onto this week’s sheet…over and over again, day after week after month…

<weeps from sheer exhaustion>

Enter Habitica.com, the only productivity toy I’ve ever used longer than a week.  I love this thing. I love it with a full and overflowing heart, so much so that I recommend it to total strangers. It’s free, and it works. Yes, FREE.

What is it? It’s the gamification of getting things done, and for me, it’s the best reminder/planning/to-do thingie EVER. Mileage varies, always, but this is my space, so Imma tell you all about why I love it.

FULL DISCLAIMER: I do not use Habitica.com at anything like its full capacity.  I don’t even play the actual game part, (I haven’t played a video game since Spyro the Dragon was cool)  and there is a whole social media support element I avoid with every social avoidance bone in my body. They look really useful and fun, but they aren’t for me.

One of the things that makes Habitica special is that (unlike other similar apps) it does not penalize me for going my own way.  I can use the bits I like and ignore the rest, and it still works perfectly. It  does everything I need it to do and does it with style.

Basically I am the little old lady who drives back and forth to the grocery store in a Ferrari.

There’s a website plus phone & tablet apps, so you always have access to your toolkit and your lists and so on. The integration is seamless, and they all use a goofy, adorable 8-bit graphic interface.  It has all the game trappings that make a thing fun, from a cute avatar I can dress to demonstrating success by leveling up.

For me it works because it divides Things Needing Doing into three categories: Habits that I do a lot (or want to do a lot, or want to STOP doing a lot)  but not necessarily on a schedule, “Dailies,” meaning anything I should do on a regular, repeated basis–whether it’s changing a water filter once a month, vacuuming the house every 9 days, sending in a quarterly report,  or getting in 10k steps daily–and To-Dos with or without a specific due date.

Tasks I add to each of those categories are infinitely personalizable.   The set-up offers all the usual sub-categories like Work, Health, etc, but I created my own too (whimsy, f’rex) and I don’t have to use any of their starter ones. Then I assign each task as trivial/easy/medium/hard, which determines how much I gain for getting it done.

Completing tasks gets me gold, experience points, and magical mana, plus a random chance at things like hatchable pet eggs, potions, and foods for pets.  All those rewards are  designed for the game aspect, but I don’t care. Seeing a bar go up and hearing that alert chime is a lovely nerotransmitter hit. Plus I do enjoy hatching the pets and feeding them.

The best part? I never have to REDO or REMEMBER a regular task.  Dailies reset and keep track of themselves, and Habits sit there patiently to be clicked or not.  And you can change your mind on things, even the nature of a task. I recently created a Buy Food task in the Habit column  because I noticed I kept putting it in as a to-do once a week.

Habitica takes all the tedious, time-consuming bookkeeping out of my hands, and every day presents me with a tidy page of check boxes. No mess, no fuss, no worry about forgetting.  I’m outsourcing much of the time-management emotional labor and stressful physical upkeep to the app. Ahhhhhhh, freedom.

Not doing Dailies dings my health and mana, as does clicking on negative habits.  The task is color-coded too, based on how successful I’ve been at getting them done.   But I can buy magic healing potions as rewards with my gold–so getting credit for succeeding at ANY thing takes some of the sting out of failing a specific thing. It nicely reinforces the idea that I don’t have to be perfect to deserve goodness.

I can create rewards too — I put “check sales” and “peek at Facebook feed” down as bad habits but ALSO use them as rewards that cost a certain amount of gold so I can give myself a guilt-free treat for completing something else. It also means if I want to avoid recording a bad habit backslide, I can pay for the privilege. So to speak.

If I have a big project to monitor, I might make To-dos, Dailies AND Habits for it.  Thus, ‘open WIP” is on my Dailies, I get to click on a plus and earn points every time I work on it for at least an hour, and if I have a scene to complete or a particular goal I want to reach, I’ll add that as a To-Do.

In summary, I love Habitica. Did I mention it’s free?  (It’s FREE!)

Full disclosure, I eventually coughed up the cash for an annual subscription, but not because I was missing any features. Subscribing was just my way of showing pocketbook appreciation for all the hard work involved in developing and maintaining the program. I’m using it, I can afford to pay a reasonable fee, and so I did.

And yeah, I also got subscriber “gifts” and a stash of gems that let me buy treats for my pets. Because PETS AND POTIONS.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on my website on this page 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

What the world needs…

Today instead of my usual self-absorbed thoughts about writing etc, I offer this collection of fluffy baby animals for anyone in need of cute cuddles.  I can’t do much to help many, but I can do this. That’s kinda my motto.

 

All photos from Pixabay.com, my go-to source for CC0 public domain graphics. 

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

Where does the time go…

I’m going through one of those phases when the amount of time passing feels vast in comparison to the activities spent filling it. (I call these phases “days of the week with names ending in y.”)  And so I list what I have done as a way to pin down the belief that I did SOMETHING.

Books read: 

Gates of Tagmeth (Kencyrath Book 8) P. C. Hodgell.  I treated myself to the latest in this series as a reward for finishing a Particularly Difficult Scene.  Am now working my way backwards through the series (as one does. What, doesn’t everyone do it that way?) Anyway.  I’ve now also re-read Sea of Time (7) and Honor’s Paradox (6)  and I’m halfway through Bound in Blood (5)

Some hours disappeared down the rabbit hole of ebook formatting research. ‘Porting all the ebooks legally-purchased over a decade into my currently-preferred reading device… was a bit of a challenge. Blame various technology changes. The internet came through once again.

Television viewed:

I caved in & started watching Marvel’s Defenders. I want to punch Iron Fist in the face every single time he’s on screen.  Otherwise, I’m not hating it.

Sportsball Sunday Afternoons is an autumn event here in Chez Herkes. Because it’s soothing and silly. Who’s playing? Not really important. Two teams. A bunch of sports announcers. Unintentionally entertaining events are guaranteed.

Movies:

Beauty & The Beast The live-action Disney remake. Watching it reminded me of listening to a virtuoso musician perform etudes. It was amazing from a technical perspective, gorgeously executed and brilliantly made, but in the end it felt like an exercise.  I did learn that live-action musical numbers with studio sound affect me the same way as uncanny-valley facial animation. They both bug the shit out of me.

Kung-fu Panda 3. BECAUSE PANDAS, THAT’S WHY.  I don’t know enough about the mythology or culture it hypothetically shows to speak on possible problematic elements. I do confess I loved the sneaky choral rendition of “Kung-Fu Fighting” playing in the background of fight scenes. I wondered if I was hearing things, but no. The whole song with words played during the credits.

Oceans Rising. It looked bad sci-fi, so of course I was tempted into viewing it. What a wreck. A total monstrosity of cinema from start to finish. I enjoyed every minute. The movie equivalent of gorging on generic chips & dip. World-spanning disaster movie filmed almost entirely inside rooms with no windows.  I also learned a bit about inertial navigation systems . From Google, not from the movie, which (unsuprisingly) got it wrong.

Things Written:

I’m not sharing numbers. Measuring progress by word counts gives me hives. (Not judging. It works for folk! It’s fab! Count & post away. I won’t see it. I avoid looking the way I steer clear of scented dryer sheets, and for the same reason.) But I digress. Suffice to say I am pleased as punch with my progress. Especially since I did it despite doodling away half a day and more on pretty autumn pictures and other detours into visuals.

The hardest set-up scenes in Heartwood are done, I’ve laid in all the remaining chapter titles, (it’s a new weird thing with this book. I can’t write scenes until I have titles for them) and I did hours of unnecessary research finding the perfect name to re-name a character. The rush-to-conclusion plot avalanche is in full flow. On track to finish before my self-imposed arbitrary deadline. I know that’s asking the universe to derail me. Don’t care. I’m flaunting my happy progress dance.

Away I go to keep up the momentum.


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

Books In Progress, And Other Happenings

Thing the First:

Rough Passages WILL be releasing as a collection this year. Hopefully at the end of October because I’d like to have copies for WindyCon (which I will once again be attending as a helper at the Games Plus table with a little display of my own books.)

First new book release in over two years means promoting said book on social media & elsewhere. It means begging for review readers. I means shouting this book’s praises to the rafters and the sky. It means asking brave, loyal, amazing fans, to go that step beyond reading it yourselves to sharing  it with more friends, co-workers, acquaintances, total strangers, and mortal enemies. It will mean talking to people. 

And that’s hard. I am not a Peppy Person. I don’t rally troops. Cheerful, pushy perkiness gives me hives.  I’ll ask nicely and often for support and sing my book’s praises with honest, passionate enthusiasm–but I know myself well enough to admit I’ll get crabby after banging my head against the apathy wall once too often.

Why mention that downer? Full disclosure. I do not paint smiley faces around slashes in my heart to make the pain look prettier.  I might cut off at the knees anyone who suggests I should minimize my troubles and “look at the bright side” instead. It isn’t a healthy coping strategy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Mute or disassociate as needed.

So I beg you, bear with me as I stumble through the trials of a New Release Phase in my own uncomfortable way, coping with sarcasm, bitter humor, and occasional flailing.

Thing the Second (a cheerier thing, I promise)

I’ve been keeping this one under my hat for almost a year.  I’m helping a friend publish some books she wrote for her grandchildren.  It’s taken 10 months of false starts and setbacks, but I finally feel confident enough about the project’s success to share a little bit about it.  <cue confetti & balloon drop>

The books range from simple 8-10 page picture books on topics like counting and animals to a couple of  delightful tales written at about the first-grade reading level.  They’re heartwarming and adorable, and –importantly–  beautifully written.

The sticky part was that the books were hand-written in journals or constructed with photocopies & stickers.  Cleaning digitizing the content alone  is no small challenge.  I gave formatting at try . (Mistake. Big mistake. HUGE.)  A artist friend with graphic design experience offered to help but got sidesiped by technology issues and job demands.

Serendipity stuck at Dragon Con. I met a wonderful book designer, we hit it off, and now she’s digitizing and polishing up Grandma Mitzie’s awesome words and illustrations to the shine needed for print publication. They’re going to be real books soon, available to the whole world for parents to buy & read and for kids to hold and enjoy.

Thing the Third

I aim to finish Heartwood by the end of October. Why set myself a dreaded deadline? Well, for one thing, I always set myself deadlines. I just ignore them when they fly by. For another thing –biggish news!

I have an outline for a new novel I plan to write during NaoNoWriMo this year.  Sort of. I don’t do word counts, so I can’t really NaNo. But I also don’t usually do outlining, so why not double-down on the wackiness? I’m tripling it, really, since I’m working with a writing partner on this project–a partner who gets final say on the story’s eventual shape. It’s not at all my usual “chip at the ideas until strands of story emerge and then weave them together” approach.

I figure why not tackle the new fresh thing in a new, fresh way? Yup, I’m stretching artistically.  New challenges. Excitement. Good times.

No, I haven’t been replaced with a pod person, I swear. I’ve wanted to do NaNo since its very first year.  Business travel and the demands of the retail cycle in general made it nigh-impossible the first few years, and after that NaNo started to feel like a big commercial enterprise defined by social interaction and burdened with an ever-increasing focus on metrics and reporting.  Metrics and reporting are not fun, socializing is hard work, and I have nothing to prove. Zero appeal.

Doing it my own way, writing with a simple end-of-month completion goal in the privacy of my own writing cave–that’ll be my kind of fun.

Now you’re up to speed on everything that’s going on in my authoring world.

 


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn

New Doings

What’s going on with me? I’m SO glad you asked. It has been a while since I did one of these. (Before DragonCon, I think?) Busy month. Why a gargoyle for the pic? WHY NOT?

Books. I read books that weren’t historical romances! Books I enjoyed!  Contemporary Fantasy! Steampunk! Exclamation points! I have high fantasy and space opera on my TBR list, but don’t get too excited. It may not get reviewed for months. Okay, here goes;

Convergent Lines. Michelle Cori. Its tagline is A Tale of Gothic Horror, and it definitely has a great gothic feel, but  horror makes me think blood & jump-scares. This has a fantastical moodiness, with fae, humans, witchcraft,  loads of intricate world-building and history…and so much more. The narrative jumps between the protagonist’s past and present by chapters leading to a major plot development, and it has that “drop you in and let you roll along”  approach I adore. (but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.) Not sure if there’s an ebook version of this, so buy the paperback or make your library get it. The cover and the interior decorations are mind-blowingly pretty.

A Desperate Plan (Tales of the Automazombs) Toni Johnson et. al. Steampunk. Zombies. Need I say more? I really don’t. It’s a fun collection of shorter and longer stories that each stand alone but advance a larger plot. Some fine storytelling in a variety of styles. Great hints of reveals to come, but no sense of anything being left unfinished.  Ebook and regular book.

A lot of romance got consumed in the last month too, but nothing I would recommend. I must say I seriously wonder if authors who consider “purely masculine scent” to be attractive have ever actually smelled a live man. I’m someone who can find the scent of a sweaty guy appealing, but “masculine scent” still makes me think, “Ew.” Ya know, I think I’ll be moving on now.

Television: Daily Show & Samantha Bee over suppers, and the occasional sportsball game while I peel apples. That’s it.  A bunch of shows got boring or cancelled, others haven’t started. Zero interest in The Orville, not paying to watch commercials with ST:Discovery,  have to wait for DVD on Game of Thrones. I record Law & Order reruns because I know half of them by heart and specifically watch them so I can tune them out.

Movies: Finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Underwhelmed.  I mean, I enjoyed it, I can say, “okay, fun movie,”  but the whole Hollywood knee-jerk sequel philosophy of “take everything that was cool in the first one and evolve it” does not now and never has worked for me.  Plus I loathed the writing for Drax. Sure, expand our understanding of the character, but literal-minded to clueless is not a personality progression. Neither is there a line from single-minded to impulsively stupid. And Gamora was pretty much sidelined except for the OMG-SIBLING-HATRED thing. And then there’s the whole “why can’t heroes have two normal, living parents?” question…

…so, maybe I mostly didn’t like it. I  dunno. Nothing I’ve mentioned will stop me from watching it again a few times.

I watched Wonder Woman again to make sure the DVD worked. Yeah. That’s why.

The latest in re-viewing: disaster flicks.  2012, Day After Tomorrow, Dante’s Peak and San Andreas. Just because. Figured out another reason I love San Andreas: the male teen lead listens to the female teen lead who knows what she’s talking about. Multiple times.

In other news, autumn is apple time, which means day trips into the Wisconsin not-so-wilds in search of all the scrumptious yummies. I’ve already socked away the first of the year’s cider & saucein the big freezer, and the first fruits & cheeses of the season have made into tasty treats. The garden is an exuberant mess of drooping grasses and drying flowers, except for the asters, goldenrod & Joe Pye weed, which are in full glorious bloom.

That’s all for this report. Next post: all about the writing and authoring.

Edited to add a full-length pic of Grawlix the Gargoyle:

IMG_2612


Not tired of my words yet? My published works are available on Amazon and all the other usual online retailers, or you can take free peeks at them on this page here. 

Science-fiction thrillers, science-fiction romance, and science fantasy, full length novels and shorter works. So many choices! Here be direct links to the published stories that have escaped the confines of Amazon. 

Extraordinary books2read.com/u/4N19e6
Powerhouse books2read.com/u/3kZ1VW
Nightmares books2read.com/u/3yPExv
Lockdown books2read.com/u/3GM2Xn