Those who know me best, know that I love a good roleplaying game (RPG). Whether it is playing the JRPG video game Final Fantasy, or spending an evening sitting around a table in a dark room playing Dungeons and Dragons – I can’t resist a good RPG. So when I came across Habitica, I quickly realized I would LOVE this app.

Habitica is an app that tries to gamify your tasks and goals by applying elements of your typical RPG to encourage you to complete them. You gain experience and gold by completing tasks and can spend the gold on new equipment, mounts, and pets while the experience is accumulated in order to advance your avatar’s level. This feedback provides you with a reward in order to encourage you to continue completing tasks.

Tasks are broken into three categories: habits, dailies, and to-dos. Habits are the things that you want to repeat in order to encourage you to make good decisions. Habits can be broken into two groups, positive and negative. Positive habits provide rewards for your character, while negative habits damage your avatar, removing HP (hit points). Dailies are tasks that your perform daily or weekly (on a regular interval). Such as taking out the trash, making sure to eat breakfast, and getting to Inbox zero. These are the things you feel you must accomplish. These are important to choose wisely as at the end of the day the uncompleted ones are counted against you. Finally to-dos are one-time tasks that you create as a reminder to accomplish them. For instance, in the screenshot above you can see I’ve created one to pick up “Frames for Ron’s Art”.

Sometimes it is difficult to pick out whether something should be a habit, daily, or to-do – which may make adopting the app into your daily life less likely. In my experience I just decided to place things where I wanted and move them as I learned more about my own habits and how I operate. This has made playing the “game” a bit more fun, and I’ve found that being a tad lenient on myself to make things more fun. Making it too challenging can be discouraging and result in not working to complete any of the tasks you’ve put in there. I would warn against making things too difficult, as using an app like this is for the purpose of making completing these tasks more fun and not causing stress.

My conclusion is that Habitica has improved my ability to accomplish my goals. I found that I was able to categorize the things I wanted to achieve, triage them, and work to achieve them in a more planned and purposeful way. There were a couple times when I was going through a really stressful time, or once that I injured my ankle and as a result didn’t get all my tasks done and got docked for them (thus causing me to be discouraged). But this punishment served to show me how to identify when to lighten the load on myself in my life, and Habitica fortunately provides a tavern to “rest” and not take damage for missed daily (which is intended for sickness and disruptive life events). Learning to use the tavern has taught me that you need a tavern in real life, the ability to unplug and take the time to recover and not adhere so rigidly to your tasks.

Ultimately the experience of using Habitica has convinced me that well-designed apps and the gamification of specific aspects of life can be a positive force. I’ve begun to think about how to gamify tasks for my team at work, and look into using these concepts in order to promote positive change in other aspects of my life. But the best part of this specific app is that it is open source, which means that even you can take the code and adjust it for a specific use case if you want!

I’m excited at the possibilities for the positive effect these types of apps can have going forward. There are multiple other parts of Habitica that I didn’t cover such as quests and playing with others, but that will have to be another post.

Invite me to your party if you want, my username is “ryanleesipes” on Habitica.

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