Habit Forming for Better Productivity

Over the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with a habit forming website called Habitica – a website that turns your life into an RPG (Role Playing Game.) The fantasy nerd in me met up with the productivity freak in me, and they conspired to get me using this site as much as possible. (Thankfully, it does also have an app for Apple and Android devices.) I’ve enjoyed using it so much that I thought it would be worth sharing something about my experience with the site. (Big thanks to Liam Dryden for sharing introducing me to this through his Instagram account, too!)

The basis of habit forming for increased productivity is in the reward system. Every time you complete something on your To-Do list, on your Daily list (the things you have to do every day), or your Habit list (the things you want to do more often), you receive experience points, and some in-game currency to spend on customising your character with new equipment. It’s a simple reward, but for those of us who like gaming, it provides an extra opportunity throughout the day to play without the risk of spending hours at it. (Guilty as charged – once I start playing Final Fantasy games, I can’t really stop.)

Getting Started

Start simple: 2-3 daily targets, 2-3 habits, 1-2 items on your to-do list. If you’re completing your to-do list regularly, consider making it longer. Focus on meeting your dailies consistently, and working on the habits towards the things that you want to be doing more. In my case, I reward myself for reading articles and chapters of books, for taking notes on stories (books, movies, television shows) I’ve “consumed”, for multimedia work, and for things like getting out of bed in the morning, or doing some exercise.

Remember: I added to this list over a period of several weeks. You don’t need to do everything all at once.

My Level 15 Mage

My Level 15 Mage

After a Few Weeks

When you find you’re meeting your daily targets and habits on a regular – or several times a day – basis, increase them. Add a new one for the next 2/3 weeks, and see how well you do. The more you use Habitica, and the more you meet your targets, the more you’ll be active throughout your day, and rewarding yourself for it.

As you use the site more, it’s also worth setting up “Daily” targets for specific days of the week. This is useful not just for meeting targets on the days when you’re not in work or in education, but for creating some variety in your week. This helps to keep things more interesting, and lets you create a more dynamic experience of the site.

When You’re Too Busy

Everyone deserves a break – and the people behind Habitica recognised that. By entering the Tavern, a user can “Rest in the Inn” to “Check out of Life” as it were. It was useful for the holiday period to prevent my character’s Healthy from depleting while I spent time with my family.

A little rest goes a long way

A little rest goes a long way

Of course, the rest in the inn isn’t just for your character. Everyone needs to stop every now and then, to recuperate and recover – particularly at the busiest points in your life. Everyone also gets sick at one point or another, so it’s worth checking in every now and then to allow yourself a chance to get better and re-energise.

The Long Game

Habitica is a gamification device – but it’s a game with a life-long playing time. You’re in control, and you benefit from almost every bit of play. (The Pets and Steeds offer no bonus to play, but they do look cool.) It’s a fun way to encourage yourself to do more with your day, and to get into the habit of doing some of the more challenging things in your life. (Especially useful at the start of the New Year, with those pesky New Years Resolutions to stick to!)

Have you given it a try yet? If so, let me know how you’re finding it, and if you have any pro tips for other users to get the most out of it.


About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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