My productivity obsession: HabitRPG

A while back I grumbled to the Patreon supporters that all the apps and online tricks and lifehacks did nothing for me productivity-wise. You mention it, I’ve probably done it and from the looks of my desk, completely failed at it. But then Nicole, an old friend from Viable Paradise, pinged me to say that she had been playing with HabitRPG and had found it incredibly helpful.

Tried it. LOVED IT.

You are an adventurer, dealing with three things: habits (things you want to work on, like “don’t drink soft drinks” or “stop swearing”), dailies (things you must do daily, like “make the bed” and “write 1000 words”), and ToDos (write a book, get car inspected.) When you do your good things in any of the three categories, you get experience points, gold, and sometimes loot drops. When you do a bad habit, or miss a daily chore, then you take damage.

It gets interesting when you form a party and go on a quest, which gives out better loot at the end, but the real motivator is the fact that when you don’t do your daily items, the monster attacks everyone on your team. Before, you thought you’d be OK taking the damage of not doing the dishes, but now everyone suffers.

Gold buys you equipment. Loot drops include eggs (all pets come from eggs, even tigers and cacti), hatching potions (which you pour over an egg, giving a type to your animal, like zombie dragon, or golden bear), and food (which you feed to pets to make them grow into mounts.) When you drop to zero HP, you die, taking all your gold, one level, and one random item. It sucks.

When you boil it down, it is another todo list, and no matter how many funny images you put on it, and how many cute pets and mighty mounts I get, doing the laundry is still doing the laundry. But knowing that when I’m done, i can get the possibility of pretending that laundry basket was a mighty sword and maybe get a new pet or some food to turn a pet into a mount, makes it a bit more rewarding.

The community is amazing, though. There are people using HabitRPG to deal with a lot more than I struggle with, like obsessive habits and even self-harm. The “Tavern” (the side-wide group chat) is heavily moderated to keep abuse at bey, with the mindset that we all are here to better ourselves and don’t need to, well, shit on others’ attempts. They’re also super-helpful to newbies (the wiki is also quite detailed). I don’t post there often, but I died recently right before the expensive winter items came out, and went to whine that I was a down-on-her-luck penniless healer.* Two strangers sent me gems immediately. (You have to buy gems with real moneys, or with gold if you subscribe to the site with real moneys.)

If there’s a downside, it’s hard finding people you know on the site unless you have their user ID, an incredibly complex set of numbers (for example, my UID is 2a157564-237e-412e-8a49-ec18f330b088). Then again, you can find people through guilds of like-minded folks. I’ve set up an I Should Be Writing guild, it’s small but at least it helps me find people.

HabitRPG has a mobile (Android and iOS as far as I know, maybe more) app where you can log your stuff, but the site changes much more often than the app updates, which is a bit frustrating.

But overall, it’s shown to be very motivating for me, and when I made Beastmaster a few days ago – where I hatched all 90 pets – I admit it was a thrill. If you’re having trouble with motivation, I recommend HabitRPG. It’s free, but you get no ads and gems to spend if you subscribe, and this site is well worth my moneys.

HabitRPG

I’m on the left with my zombie panda mount and my seahorse pet, the rest of the party is to the right. Other pets include skeleton lion, base cactus, base tiger, desert fox. And 2 shade dragon mounts.

* At level 10 you can choose your class. It’s hard to see from my huge zombie panda mount, but I’m carrying the rod and shield of a healer. Healers, well, heal people and buff constitution so people won’t take so much damage from missed tasks. Rogues get better loot drops. Mages get more XP and keep their streaks alive even if they miss a day. Warriors hit things really hard.

Breaks. I need a lesson.

Sat down. Wrote 600+ words. Felt good. Took break.

And I don’t remember anything after that.

I know logically that the breaks are necessary and you burn out without them. But for me, that break in my mental flow tells my brain that I’m done, and getting back to it is nigh impossible.

I’ve tried pomodoros. I just ignore the “get back to work” signal.

I need help.

If you are a champion break-taker – and I mean someone who takes a break and then gets the hell back to work, not someone who goofs off all the time, cause I don’t need ANY help in that area – email me or @mightymur on Twitter to give advice. I’m at a loss.

(yeah, there are no comments on this blog. I am a strong believer in Do Not Read the Comments, even on my own blog.)

I hesitate to claim victory, but…

I’ve been bemoaning – for YEARS – my inability to get organized and disciplined. I’ve tried many, many tools, apps, books, systems, and advice. I’ve been depressed, having so much time and so little efficient use of it.

The Magic Spreadsheet has solved one of these problems, making me write for 52 straight days, for 32,202 words. So I’m writing at least. But it’s still not solved completely, because I’d let myself get pulled into the lure of the Internet and email and Facebook and squander the whole freaking day, and then write at night after the kiddo went to bed. Fail.

Pomodoro - a cooler word than "tomato"

Pomodoro – a cooler word than “tomato”

I needed something else, something in addition to the Magic Spreadsheet. And I finally bought a book on the Pomodoro Technique. I was skeptical that just a timer would “fix” me when I’d felt broken for years, but once I read the book I understood that it’s more than a timer. You have to look at your work in a different way, making lists in the morning of your plans, and then – and this is the big deal – working for the full 25 minutes on your task.

Why is that a big deal? Let me explain what the Tomato Getting Things Done plan did for my wordcount in the past two days:

My current daily wordcount goal is around 800 words. I try to push it to 1000 just to get one more coveted point on the Magic Spreadsheet. I can do this writing in less than an hour- but it takes MORE than 25 minutes. So I get to 600 or 700 words in my 25 minutes, the timer goes off, and I force myself to take a break. When I come back, I have 25 more minutes to write. Do I write just the last few hundred words? Well, I could, but if I really want to embrace this technique, my goal is to write the full 25 minutes, wordcount be damned.

The past two days I’ve logged over 1500 words both days. This is huge for me.

And other stuff is getting done, too.

It’s tough, though. I don’t have the system down completely, as I am currently guilty of messing around online before I officially start my day of pomodoros (pomodori?), but I think as I continue the program, I will work on minimizing those rabbit holes and the delays to start work.

I’ve been so disorganized for so long that I hesitate to say I’m finally getting a hold on my life, but I think I might be getting a hold on my life…

PS- if you haven’t checked out the Magic Spreadsheet, or read about it, feel free to look at it, look at the Instructions tab, and join up. Just remember it’s shared so don’t mess with anyone else’s numbers but your own.