If you’ve never heard of it before, Habitica is “a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game”. I use it strictly for self-care and general reminders about personal projects only. I keep the scope super tight so that I don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on my plate on a daily basis, but also don’t forget to do the stuff that’s really important.
This method has, at worse, made sure I have clean teeth every day and at best kept me on track with the things that are important in my life.
A quick breakdown of my life, in a general sense:
- I have a full time day job as a front end developer.
- I run a small publishing company and quarterly magazine with a staff of around 30 volunteers. I’m the sole designer/developer.
- I write fiction regularly, including stories, novels and articles like this for fun.
- I work on personal coding projects and study regularly to deepen my skills.
- I do actually make time to spend quality time with dear ones and friends.
- I also game, read comics and books, and make downtime to recharge.
Okay, so that’s a lot right? And I’m not neurotypical, so that adds more layers of complexity. Habitica has been a huge key to not getting overwhelmed in my day to day life.
So, in the screenshot below, you’ll see the three columns of tasks Habitica allows you. This is good because it forces you to be kind of ruthless when organizing them.
Habitica allows you to rank your tasks as trivial, easy, medium or hard. Sometimes I use the amount of actual effort needed to complete a task and sometimes I rank it according to how many “spoons” it’s going to take me to do it.
Calling the doctor to make an appointment might be a “trivial” task for most people, but for me there is a mental/emotional challenge to it, so I would actually rank it as “hard”.
These are things that are good for you to do regularly, but not necessarily daily or on a specific schedule. While you can put bad habits on here and subtract points from yourself, I don’t do that. I’m trying to reward and encourage myself, not punish myself.
I have a lot of specific things on there, like taking the garbage out, but I also have vague things on there like “easy thing” so that if I have something come up and I handle it when I’m away from Habitica, I can just add it as a bonus.
The core of Habitica is the Dailies. When you fail to complete a Daily, you lose health at the end of the day. I’m very careful about what I put on here. I also make sure that I adjust the schedule (Dailies can be turned off for certain days) so that on Fridays when I know I have a standing dinner with my dear ones, I don’t have tasks scheduled that are guaranteed to be left incomplete.
Right now I have a generic “code stuff” daily. That can be anything from working on the WeAllJS website to learning about Object.prototype or making a small fix or commit on the game engine I’m building. So, it’s vague, but something I’m committing myself to doing daily.
Brushing my teeth is a gimme, but what it does is act as a gateway to using the app/site regularly. I know that if all else fails, I can get myself to do that one small task and it’s often enough to get me ticking off a few other little things as well.
This is where things can get dangerous. I actually just purged out a bunch of stuff that I just wasn’t getting around to and was guilting me out. That’s a downhill slide that makes this tool stop working for me.
Right now I have planning for a couple big personal projects listed and a fun little thing I promised another slack I would do. These are my current most high priorities. I keep this list trimmed to just the most important things that I can’t let slide and other tasks that need to be done within the week.
And that’s it
This is not a wishlist of things I want to do or things I think I “should” do. It is definitely not somewhere I put work-related to-do stuff. I have Jira and a little Chrome to do list extension for that stuff. I do also use Trello for deeper planning and collaboration on some of my personal projects, too.
I keep Habitica trim so I don’t get overwhelmed. No tool is good if it isn’t useful and if I dread looking at it, then it stops being useful.