I’ll write more, but so far I’m digging this nerdy AF routine RPG thing. Most tracking and task apps give you check marks. Habitica is about giving you more for completing your tasks and being good to yourself than just check marks.
I’ve written about Productive and Streaks, and Habitica is more or less another one in this line. But it also functions as a reminders app. And it gives you gold and XP and there’s eggs and potions and tigers and hats.
Okay, so it’s a little bit wacky. Basically, there are four little areas in the app: Habits, Dailies, Tasks, and Rewards. Habits are things you can notch over and over, either on the positive or negative side. Trying to eat healthy? Give yourself a positive notch every time you do well, and a negative notch for every cheat. The positive notches gives you experience points and gold (more on these later), and the negative notches take away your health. Lose enough health, and your character dies. You can give yourself little boosts whenever you want, but if you give yourself too many in a row, it begins to drain your health and gold. This is probably to stop people from trying to “game” this totally-gameable system too much. It’s a bit like Wii Fit: there were ways to “win” it by not doing every sit-up, but who are you hurting by doing that? You’re supposed to be doing the sit-ups.
Dailies work similarly, except they’re like a recurring task you do once per unit (every day, week, etc). You lose health automatically if you don’t complete a daily. If this sounds stressful, the point of this is to give you just a little boost. You determine the difficulty of a habit/daily/task, and you have to put everything in anyway. The app won’t ever make you do something you haven’t told it you want to do.
So far, the app is just a combination of a task and habit app. That’d be nice enough, actually, but where it really ties in the experience is with rewards. This is the fourth column in the app, and it’s where you answer the question “What am I doing all this for?” We set up tasks and habits for ourselves because this stuff has to get done, sure, but it’s also nice to give yourself a treat for completing a bunch of stuff. Habitica helps you keep track of it. For instance, one of my rewards is “Video Game session.” If I get enough points from completing habits, I can “spend” them on playing some video games. You can also spend your points on in-game pixel art to adorn your little avatar. The stuff is cute, but I like the idea of creating my own rewards.
One thing I didn’t love: there’s no rewards history, so once you’ve “purchased” something, it’s just gone from the list. Your completed tasks only stay in the app’s history for a month (three months if you’re a paying subscriber), so if you really care about seeing your history of tasks, you may still want to use a regular reminders app.
Once you’ve got a good number of items in your Habits/Dailies/Tasks/Rewards list, it may be overwhelming. Thankfully, Habitica uses Tags in order to let you determine the scope of what you’re working on right now. I use GTD-style context tags, such as “Work,” “Morning,” and “Phone.” When I click on one of these tags, it only shows me what’s applicable for that context.
The absolute best part of the app may be the community areas, which give you suggestions for habits, and groups to join in order to get pushed along by other users. This is where the RPG stuff hits hardest, so you may be put off by “Quests” and the like. But you also may really love that. There are also in-app purchases in the form of Gems, which give you extra stuff. If you’re really into this, you can give it money. But you also don’t have to.
This task app still doesn’t do everything. You can’t really use the app offline, so if you have something to add to it, you’ve got to wait until you’re out of the subway. And you can’t add in everything from your regular task app if you have a lot of tasks (it doesn’t do folders, for instance).
Still, it’s the closest thing I’ve found to the perfect execution of a habit-forming/breaking app. Now to just figure out if I can actually break some bad habits and form some good ones. That’s ultimately up to me. No cute little fox can actually do it for me.