Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Using Habitrpg

Habitrpg.com is not going to change your life. It’s not going to change you from a lazy person into a productive person. It’s not a miracle. 

But it can help. It can give you an extra nudge to get your shit done.

It is a tool for developing better habits, completing daily tasks and checking off to-do lists. 

What am I talking about?

Here, let wikipedia explain:
HabitRPG (often shortened to Habit) is an online time management application. Unlike most time management programs, HabitRPG takes the form of a role-playing game.

First, let’s explain what an RPG or Role-Playing Game is. This is a game where you take on a ‘role’ and go on quests, with the ultimate purpose to gain equipment, gold, experience and complete a story. Using the most basic example, you could be a knight who goes on quests to save a maiden by killing monsters and such. Killing monsters gives you experience, which then allows you to “level up”, becoming stronger. You also gain gold and equipment which in turn makes you stronger. The main goal of RPGs is to get stronger by collecting more powerful equipment and increasing in levels by collecting experience.

“But,” you say, “I thought Habitrpg was about habits and tasks and mundane stuff?” It is! But it attempts to “gamify” (what an awful word that I hope to never to utter again) your life.

How does it do this?

When you first sign up, you choose some very basic attributes for your character, hair and skin color. Your character starts off very basic. You have a shirt, pants, hair style and a measly little sword. He or she hangs out in the upper left corner of the website, they are your avatar, your character, your person. The rest of the screen is taken up by your attributes, (Health, Experience), your tasks and rewards.

Let’s talk about TASKS. This is the meat, the substance, the true reason for this application existing.

There are three categories, Habits, Dailies, and To-Do.


Under Habits, you put habits you want to gain or do more of as well as habits you want to decrease or stop altogether. Each one can have a Plus or a Minus. When you click the Plus on the Habit, it means you did something you wanted to do, whether that was resist the temptation of a bad habit or succeeded in performing a good habit. When you click the Plus, you immediately gain Experience and Gold, an immediate reward for succeeding in doing the thing you want. If you include a Minus on a habit, and click it, it means you either did not succeed in performing a good habit, or performed a bad habit you are trying to stop. Clicking the minus takes away Health and Gold, a punishment. Let’s use EXAMPLES.

Say you want to floss your teeth more. You could do a few different things. If you put it under Habits, you could either have only a Plus attached to it or both a Plus and a Minus. If you only attach a Plus, obviously you click that whenever you floss. The more you floss, the more rewards you will earn. If you include both a Plus and Minus, you could click the Plus whenever you flossed and click the Minus whenever you had the opportunity and should have flossed but didn’t. A third option, if you wanted to remember to floss every day, would be to put the floss Habit under the Daily tasks, but more on that later.

Now say you wanted to quit chewing your fingernails. You could do the same thing as flossing, either using only a Minus, or both a Plus and Minus. Every time you bit your fingernails, you would click the Minus and be punished for it. If you included the Plus, you could click that if you wanted to bite your fingernails at some point in the day but resisted the temptation. Either way is fine.

Let’s move on to Dailies! Dailies are tasks you want to start or continue doing every day (though you can choose what days of the week certain tasks come up or not, so it doesn't have to be every single day). This is incredibly useful if there’s a routine you want to start or continue. Say you want to run every day, perfect. Write every day? Awesome. Write a certain amount of words? Walk a certain amount of steps? Exercise? Wake up at a certain time? etc etc etc. Now, Dailies do not have a Plus or a Minus, only a check box. When you check that box, you are saying “I completed this task today!” and you receive your just rewards (gold and experience). If you do not check that box by midnight, it counts against you, and as with Minuses in Habits, you lose Health and Gold. You cannot complete a Daily more than once in a day (unless you make multiple Dailies that are the same…) so any task that you do more than once a day should probably go into Habits.

Last but not least is the To-Do list. This is simply a to-do list with check boxes. You put up what you need to do and check them off when you complete them. There is no punishment for not doing them, only a reward for completing them. These aren’t Habits or Daily tasks. Basically, anything you put on a to-do list could go here. Complete this thing, Run this errand, Do your taxes, etc. These are for one-off tasks that you do once and are done with.

The Payoff
What’s the point of all this? What’s the point of rewards like Experience and Gold? What’s the point of having a little character-dude?

As you gain in experience and go up in levels, you will unlock more things, more cool things. You get random rewards for completing Daily tasks that either result in getting new Pets or food to feed those Pets and eventually turn them into Steeds. You also unlock classes, such as Warrior, Rogue or Mage, which in turn gives you special ‘moves’ which generally involves getting more cool stuff and unique equipment.

What’s equipment you ask? Well, that’s the cool stuff you can spend your hard-earned Gold on. You start out with a basic sword and buy some leather, but eventually you get chainmail, a sweet helm, a mace, etc. You also start gathering pets that stand in front of you, eventually turning one into a steed you can sit on. Your little character starts off like a peasant but slowly becomes a badass knight. You might be saying to yourself “this is stupid, why would I do this?” and maybe you wouldn’t! Maybe this kind of thing sounds dumb and would not work for you. Like I said, it’s not going to change anyone’s life. It didn’t change mine. But it IS a nudge in the right direction. It’s a way to record yourself doing the things you want yourself to do but find it difficult. It’s a reward system to motivate you to be a more productive person.

Besides these little digital rewards, you also can add your own custom rewards and give them their own price. You could put “Play video games for one hour” or "Go out with friends" and have it cost “10 Gold”. These custom rewards are a great way to reward yourself for being more productive and may be a better incentive than digital gear.

As said before, clicking Minuses or failing to do Daily tasks will take away Health. If enough Health gets taken away, you Die. This just means you lose a couple levels of experience and a bunch of Gold. I don’t know the specifics because I’ve never died. It’s really quite easy to stay alive and if you are having trouble, it likely means you’re ‘doing it wrong’. Maybe you set goals that are too difficult or too many Dailies than you can complete in a day.

Obviously, this is all based on you being honest with yourself. You’re the one setting the tasks and clicking on them or not, regardless of whether they were actually completed. You could completely “game” the system and just flood yourself gold and experience but you’re really only “gaming” yourself. The point isn’t to gain experience and gear, the point is to be productive and get shit done. The bells and whistles are just tiny rewards to help you push through distractions and do what you need to do. Habitrpg is only a useful tool if you use it as such.

How do I use it? 

I find the Dailies the most useful, a daily to-do list that reminds me of things I should do every day, like write and read, as well as making coffee and breakfast in the morning. It keeps me on track. I don't use the Habits as much but I find the to-do list useful. It's like any other to-do list, except you get cool shit when you finally do it!

I will leave you with my character, who rides a white wolf and has a red bear cub as a pet.

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