Messing around with Habitica

I tried Habitica some years ago but did not get into it. This week I gave it another try – now I love it! It’s a to-do list or checklist app where setting tasks and checking them off also levels you up in a weird little role-playing game. After three days I’m a level 3 warrior wearing a very strange purple helmet and attempting to hatch a wolf egg. Yes, I am susceptible to gamification of damn near anything!

I normally keep my to-do list in Remember The Milk, not always well tagged, but with some tasks scheduled, and many more in an enormous backlog sorted by creative or domestic projects. The scheduled tasks often slip. I’ll postpone them for a day or a week. Calling to schedule a dentist appointment has slipped a week for oh…. so many months now. Somehow I never get to that one.

I tried recently to add some new habit formation into RTM, so that I would get up and stretch more often, or meditate for 5 minutes. This hasn’t worked out super well. These small tasks clutter up my main list.

Enter Habitica! It sorts items into habits, dailies, and to-do. Each item can get tagged but also gets a difficulty ranking: trivial, easy, medium, or hard.

It has a column for habits (which you can do several times a day, with a plus or minus for positive or negative rating). Now, stretching, doing tai chi, triaging a few bugs here and there, or scooping the cat box don’t clutter up my more complicated to-do lists. I am ridiculously motivated to glance over the Habits list to see if there’s anything quick I can do to level up my character a tiny bit.

There are also Daily Habits, which I’m approaching more cautiously. I don’t want to overcommit in this area.

The main to-do list is for one-time or rare tasks, and has more scope for complexity. You can add smaller checklist items to make gradual progress on multi-part tasks.

So far, I’m only starting to explore the game mechanics. I’ve joined a party where we battle monsters by doing stuff on our lists. At some point you can use in-game coins (earned by leveling up) to equip your avatar with useful equipment for battle. It’s silly and fun.

The useful stuff so far: I have settled into doing the Habits and Dailies, then forcing myself to face up to the to-do list items. If I want to level up then…. omg…. I have to do one of those things! It’s been working.

I’m considering adding “rewards” that i can buy with in-game coins, things I like doing but that eat up a lot of time or are actively unhealthy. For example, I could make “Play one day in Stardew Valley” cost a significant amount. “Mess around with Pokemon” might cost less. Making my game playing depend on progress in ANOTHER GAME that is basically real life has a certain appeal! “Zone out reading Twitter for infinity time instead of going to sleep” would take all my coins and flush them right down the toilet.

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