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While I have presented you last week with one of my all-time favorite productivity tools, this week I want to show you a tool that I just recently started using. For the last couple of years, I have been using Todoist as my todo list tool in the premium version. Todoist is a really great tool! The language processing is amazing and it’s really easy to enter your own tasks. It is very simplistic in its design and I was very happy working with it for years. With the use of Notion though, I felt Todoist being more of a burden than a helpful tool for me. Maybe it was just time for something new? Whatever the reason might have been, I decided to try making my habit-tracking and todo-listing a bit more RPG-like.

So let’s grab a coffee and talk about: Habitica.

Gamification

But first, let’s talk for a moment about the concepts of Gamification. In the last decade, gamification has been used more and more in different fields. Gamification concepts might surround you throughout your day without you even noticing it. Be it loyalty programs by your favorite coffee shop chain (e.g., Starbucks), a level system giving your various benefits (Booking.com), bonus miles (Miles & More), badges, competing against friends in how much sports you did the last week (Fitbit), quests paths in learning to code (CodinGame) and even the before mentioned Todoist app has a Karma and level system rewarding you for using the app, creating and finishing tasks!

It’s quite impressive how many examples you can find! Here’s a few lists with interesting examples:

And this is only outside of games. Let’s not begin talking about random drops, leveling, badges, achievements, avatar customization, and microtransactions in games. The question is: why did it increase so immensely during the last decade?

Well, the answer is pretty simple: because it works! Even if you’re not a stereotypical gamer, even if you have absolutely nothing to do with games in any sense, some of the concepts behind gamification will affect your decision making and probably your habits. There are also some interesting talks on TED that I can wholeheartedly recommend to you:

Habitica in a nut shell

So what does this have to do with Habitica? Habitica is a to-do list and habit tracker, but it incorporates RPG elements and gamification into your daily productivity routines. In short:

Habitica is a free habit and productivity app that treats your real life like a game.

As opposed to a normal to-do-list app, Habitica is divided into three categories: Habits, Dailies, and Todos. Nevertheless, behind all three categories lies the same logic: Every item has a “difficulty”. If you accomplish the item, you get rewarded with gold and experience. If not, you lose health. If your health bar went to 0, you lose one level, all your gold, and a random item from your inventory.

Habits

Both good and bad habits can occur multiple times per day/week/month. Therefore they have a plus and a minus button. You can configure when the streak should be reset. The higher the streak, the higher the reward/punishment. This is the category you usually use to learn new or unlearn bad habits. They can be defined as positive, negative, or both at the same time.

Examples:

  • “+ Took the stairs / Used the elevator -“
  • “+ Healthy Snack / Junk food -“
  • “+ Meditate”
  • “- Smoke”

There’s a whole list of sample habits on the Habitica Wiki:
https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Sample_Habits

Dailies

Let’s say you already established habits that you want to do on a regular basis. This category is more suitable for tasks that are part of your routine. You’re planning to go to the gym every Monday and Thursday? This is the category you might choose. When you login in the next day, the platform will ask you if you’ve finished yesterday’s unfinished dailies. This is a big PLUS for me compared to Todoist, where you have to tick the tasks off in time. When you don’t finish a Daily, you lose points on your health bar.

Again, there’s a great collection of Sample Dailies on the Habitica Wiki: https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Sample_Dailies

Todos

This is the classic to-do list category. Add tasks, schedule them to specific dates, add checklists (i.e., sub-tasks), descriptions (Markdown support), etc. You can filter this category by scheduled and unscheduled tasks. On top of that, you can filter your whole dashboard by tags that you can configure on your own!

Although I think you get the idea of this category, here is a sample list, as well: https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Sample_To_Do’s

Gamification

So far, this sounds very much like a standard, boring productivity tool, right? The only RPG-like thing I have mentioned so far is the Gold and Health bar. So what are the other RPG elements of Habitica?

Your Character, Random Drops, Gold and Items

Let’s state the obvious: you have an 8-bit character which can be customized!

Then there is your Inventory! You can get new weapons, armor, costumes (that don’t affect your battle armor’s stats but make your character look nicer), magic potions, hatching potions, eggs (for your pets/mount), and pet food. Yes, you can have pets that you can grow into mounts when you feed them!

You can either buy items in the shop, or you might get them by a random item drop when you finish a task! Another cool thing you can do with the Gold you get from tasks or quests is spending it on your custom (i.e., self-defined) rewards.

Did you have a productive day? Do you feel like you’ve earned yourself a reward? Maybe it is an hour of gaming, saving 20$ for that useless but awesome thing you always wanted to buy or just a piece of chocolate. This completely depends on you, but it’s a great way to reward yourself for all the productive work you’ve been doing! For more inspiration on Custom Rewards, check out: https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Sample_Custom_Rewards#Rewards_and_Long-Term_Goals

That’s quite a lot of RPG elements! But wait, there’s even more!

Warrior, Healer, Rogue or Magician?

Yes, Habitica even has a class system! When you’ve reached level 10, you can decide which of these four classes you want to pick. Each class has its own benefits and special skills you can use with your Mana. The class doesn’t greatly affect the “normal” experience but might come in handy when you work on quests!

Quests, Parties, Guilds and Challenges

This is one of the greatest features, in my opinion, because even without all the RPG elements, this would be a unique feature for a productivity tool! You can join a party with friends (or with other Habiticans looking for a party) and complete quests together. The quest progresses when party members finish Dailies, Todos, or perform good Habits. If one of the party members misses a Daily, all party members get additional damage. So, you not working out takes a whole other level of importance because your party will notice that!

The second social feature of Habitica is the Guild feature. Here you can find like-minded Habiticans from all over the world, discuss topics via chat or take up a challenge. There are guilds for learning to code, writing, gaming, language learning, coffee, self-improvement, health & lifestyle, productivity, finances, addiction recovery, mental & physical health, and so much more! This is a really great way to find others who encourage you in whatever you want to accomplish, give you advice, or challenge you to do (or not do) a certain task.

Do you want to find out more about Guilds and Challenges? https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Guilds_Guide

Free and open-source!

Whether you want to use all these RPG features or not is almost completely up to you! I think it’s a great motivator, and especially the social features are a great way to get the extra motivation or the advice you need. Not convinced yet? I’ll tell you the ultimate reason to give it a try: it is completely free to use! On top of that, it’s even open-source (https://github.com/HabitRPG/habitica)!

Written in Node and VueJS, you can contribute to the open-source community, write a custom plugin, or integrate it into a different project by accessing the Habitica API (https://habitica.com/apidoc/). There is also an Android and iOS App so that you can use it on your phones, and thanks to the API, there are even apps for smart watches and many other extensions (https://habitica.fandom.com/wiki/Extensions,_Add-Ons,_and_Customizations).

If you want to support the developers behind this great project, you still have the possibility to buy a monthly subscription (which is 4-5$/month). The subscription increases your item drops, and you can buy items with Gems to further customize your character or mounts. It won’t give you any additional productivity features, so you can use everything completely free of charge!

Conclusion

Habitica is a great, free, open-source productivity tool that incorporates social and gamification aspects into a combined habit-tracker / todo list app. You can find new challenges, like-minded people, or get more productive together with your friends or even family! The only thing I wished would be easier is the creation/configuration of new tasks. Coming from Todoist, with their great natural language processing, I wish I could create a task like “New blog post #writing !p1 tomorrow”, but the fact that Habitica is open-source gives me the great power to implement something like this on my own!

If you already have your perfect productivity setup, awesome! Whether you’re curious about something new or still looking for something that might suit you better, I can absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend you to give Habitica a try!

Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you’re planning to start with Habitica, looking for a Party or a new challenge. I will definitely have some challenges for you during the next year. 😉

Moritz Wachter

Author Moritz Wachter

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