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.
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