Gamification Helps You Get Things Done

March 11, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

To-do list
Photo credit: John Schultz/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Break some bad habits and create some new good ones with the help of Habitica.

Are you a procrastinator? Do you struggle with making yourself promises you can’t keep? Have you been trying to break a bad habit for years? Habitica might just be the app for you.

According to its website, “Habitica is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.”

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Basically, Habitica turns your life into a game. Using either a mobile app or your favorite web browser, you can list things you want to accomplish and gain in-game gold that you can spend to improve your experience. As you stick with your goals, you can unlock new content and level up.

Whether your goal is to quit smoking, eat more healthily, finish assignments for work or school, go to bed earlier, or do your housework, the app is customizable based on what you want to achieve. You can even play in a team or join groups to create dependencies between you and your friends, which will give you a stronger reason to stick to your goals.

Habitica: screenshot of tasks menu

Screenshot of the tasks menu in Habitica. Photo credit: Habitica

“The most effective part of any self-improvement program is social accountability, and what better an environment for accountability and competition than a video game?” says the game’s website.

It’s much more than a simple to-do list because it gives you an incentive to cross things off. Sometimes you just don’t have enough willpower to be able to depend on internal motivation.

“The problem with most productivity apps on the market is that they provide no incentive to continue using them,” says the website. “By rewarding you for your successes and penalizing you for slip-ups, Habitica provides external motivation for completing your day-to-day activities.”

Gamification isn’t new; it is the idea of taking something boring or that you’re struggling with and making it exciting by adding game elements to it that will provide extra motivation. According to USA Today in 2012, the gamification market was worth about $2.8 billion and if you’ve ever played FarmVille, you know how strong the persuasive elements of a game can be — even if they are repetitive and serve no real purpose.

According to the Atlantic, gamification “takes games — a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people — and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.”

It may feel silly, but it’s worth it if it works!

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