I cram another cookie in my mouth. This is going to cost me.
20 Gold Points for starters, earned through yoga and walking and writing. Or I can charge myself 2 Health Points for the “Eat sugar” negative habit.
Also 25 Mana Points to heal my questing party of the damage the monster is going to inflict because I couldn’t check off my “Manage sugar” daily.
I suppose I better not have a third cookie.
This is the magic of Habitica at work. Formerly called HabitRPG, the free and open-source web and mobile app tracks your tasks and habits and incentivizes them with imaginary rewards. As you conquer your goals in real-life, your little 8-bit avatar levels up with you!
I was an early adopter of Habitica, but only started using it regularly last July. This is me, kirikiwi. I’m currently dressed as a fairy, riding a phoenix, and am accompanied by a golden dragon (we’re feeling very color-coordinated).
Since it’s around the new year, a time when many people re-evaluate their priorities and set goals, it seems an appropriate time to write up a recommendation/overview should you wish to gamify your resolutions. Here’s a basic break-down of Habitica and how I use it:
Types of Tasks
Habits are actions you can do at any time, including multiple times per day. Good habits (+) will reward you when you do them, and bad habits (-) will harm you. I tend to keep mine quantifiable and small. For example, I have habits for “Take 2000 steps” and “Meditate 5 minutes”. That way, I’ll still get a little instant gratification even if I don’t have a lot of time to spend on the habit that day. Check out more sample habits here!
Dailies are recurring tasks to be completed at most once a day and at least once a week. If you miss checking it off on a day it’s due, you lose some health. (I’ve yet to find out what happens when you die.) The app also makes use of Jerry Seinfield’s “Don’t Break the Chain” method by keeping track of your streak count. The longer the chain gets, the more painful it will be to miss a day and reset it. You also get bonuses for completing “Perfect Days” with everything checked off. Therefore, it’s best to make these dailies meaningful and obtainable – I still adjust them regularly when something’s just not working. Some of my dailies include Yoga (20+ min) and Read (30+ min). Check out more sample dailies here!
To-Dos are one-off tasks. This section has become my dumping ground for everything from shopping lists to appointment reminders. You can set due dates and break up your tasks into sub-checklists. Check out more sample to-dos here!
Incentives and Reinforcement
For each task you complete, you’ll receive experience points (that strengthen your character and unlocking more features) and gold points (to spend on rewards, both user-defined and virtual). There are also random drop items, which include eggs you can hatch into pets and grow into mounts in a gotta catch em all scenario that ties into the achievements system.
To weight the value of the points you receive upon completion, you can assign a difficulty to each habit/daily/to-do. “Red” items indicate that you’re falling behind, but will also reap more rewards to motivate you to do them.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the Party and questing system. I joined the “We Understand if you Forget to Check Off Things You’ve Already Done” party through the Looking for Group guild, so they’re all strangers, but as the name implies it’s a pretty chill group.
Members get quests in their inventory that they start for the group. By doing our tasks and casting spells based on our classes, we take down monsters and collect more rewards. Should you fail to complete your tasks, your whole party will suffer, adding another level of accountability. Don’t worry – if you’re sick or on vacation you can rest in the inn!
Habitica also has Guilds that are forums for those with common goals and Challenges that allow users to share a set of tasks for users to compete to complete. I won a daily yoga challenge that aligned with my existing goals and was rewarded with Gems. This currency is usually only available when you pay to support the game, and it allows you access to more virtual items.
The biggest limitation of Habitica is that it relies on self-reporting, so you must be able to monitor your own actions and be honest with yourself. It’s also light on story, so while the site does offer many traditional game-like mechanics, if you want to add more role-playing you must use your own imagination. There are some suggestions on how to gamify your tasks on the wiki.
The obvious uses are for tracking health/fitness and education/learning, but I also think it would be interesting to use this website for organizing a small team project. It looks like the Habitica team is setting up paid hosting for private instances to do just that, so you can define your own custom fields and offer team-specific challenges. It’s still missing some features of other task managers, like better reminders, so I look forward to seeing how it will evolve (and maybe pitching into some of the code!).
If this sounds at all interesting, make Habitica a habit in your life today!