Gaming my goals

Marti's avatar on HabitRPG

Marti in her kelp-wrapped hat and blue mouse ears. With her pet bear cub!

For me, one of the most satisfying things about completing a task is checking it off my list. (“Ha! Another!”) I’ve tried a handful of productivity apps — merely so I could experience the pleasure of creating lists and checking off the items, which somehow quantifies my efficiency and all around amazingness.

Sadly, I tended to get bogged down in list-writing. I’d have subtasks. And then I’d have to order and re-order list items. Even if I checked off an item, I’d still want to edit and refine it. Or maybe the completed item would disappear, as if it had never existed! I eventually got bored and gave up on Outlook and Evernote. I didn’t need something to manage my workload; I wanted something to make the workload enjoyable.

About 6 months ago I happened upon the perfect list-making application for me. It is called HabitRPG. Although the gamey interface put me off at first, I soon became a devoted user of this free online tool.

Here’s why I think HabitRPG is brilliant: it separates tasks into three incredibly intuitive categorizes:

  • Habits — the things you’re training yourself to accomplish regularly, like writing a blog post, memorizing a poem, or calling your Mom.
  • Dailies — tasks you must complete every day, like exercising, checking job boards, and taking vitamins.
  • To-dos — your running task list, the assignments you must complete, like finishing a report, taking clothes to the dry cleaner, running the anti-virus software.

For completing tasks, naturally you get points. It is a game after all! But more useful and charming than game points is Habit’s way of quantifying, on one screen, all the things I should be doing to improve myself — my writing, my health, my job performance. I score myself, and I don’t cheat.

In another post I’ll detail the interesting ways HabitRPG motivates users to improve their lives. It’s more than kelp-wrapped hats!

In the meantime, here’s a fun fact: HabitRPG was fully funded by Kickstarter in February 2013.

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