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tool profiles

Tool Profile: Habitica

This post was originally written back in September 2018 for my patreon page. It’s slightly out of date with respect to my priorities and specific tasks but that’s not really important so I’m posting it as-is.

Like many people I often use the beginning of the calendar year to start new stuff. Like far fewer (but still a lot) of people my birthday is in mid January.

Habitica is the first thing I’ve ever taken up at the start of the year and still been doing every day by my birthday, two weeks later. That was in 2015.

my avatar on Habitica. I have a pet robot.

Habitica tells me that I’ve checked in 627 times. Sure, that’s not every day – I generally check myself into the “inn” when I’m on holidays or unwell. But it’s a lot! And the fact that I still keep going back to it speaks to how well it works for me and the way my brain works and what keeps me motivated to keep doing a thing.

And because I am motivated to keep doing the Habitica thing that’s helping me do all the things that Habitica reminds me to do!

Brief Overview

In Habitica you have three types of tasks.

Habits – are things you can do multiple times per day and can be positive  or negative

Dailies – things you can do once per day on a daily or regular basis (every monday, or every 2 days, or every 4 weeks).

Todos – things you do once

Habitica is a real life Role Playing Game (it used to be called HabitRPG!) and you have a little avatar that gains gold and xp when you complete your positive habits, dailies and todos. You lose health by completing negative habits and missing due dailies. (A todo will never cause you to lose health but if you’ve been procrastinating on it for a long time it will give you extra gold and xp for completing it).

By gaining XP you can gain levels which allow you to add stats to your character increasing its strength (helps you do more damage to tasks), intelligence (gains you more mana which you can use for spells), constitution (makes you tougher so your missed dailies don’t hurt so much) and perception (helps you find more gold and random drops when completing tasks).

You can spend your gold on in-game rewards like equipment to equip and dress up your character or you can create custom rewards to reward yourself with real-life stuff.

How I use it

I use Habitica as my “hub” and I have daily tasks on Habitica that remind me to check up on my tasks that I’ve set up in other apps. 

I also use Habitica for tasks that I want to do every single day such as Meditating, Making the Bed, Doing Laundry and Engaging in Leisure (Reading, Gaming or Watching a Movie or TV). As I’ve been using it for 3 years now my character has maxed out in levels and I’ve collected all of the pets and mounts several times. But I still use custom rewards to motivate myself to keep doing my tasks. If I cash in a certain amount of in-game gold I allow myself to purchase an expansion pack for the sims.

initially I had stuff like “playing video games” as a reward itself but I found that having fun stuff as a reward made me feel like I should avoid doing it so that I could save up for something better. And I also felt like when I wasn’t doing so well and wasn’t completing my daily tasks I couldn’t “afford” to have any fun at all. So for that reason I have my rewards as things I purchase for myself and have basic-fun-stuff-I-do-just-for-fun as a daily task instead. 

Although a Habit can have both a positive and a negative aspect to it (so you can set up a habit to be positive for drinking a glass of water and negative for drinking fizzy drink) I find it works better for me to have them separated into stand-alone positive and negative habits. 

My character is a healer which means my tasks don’t damage me very much and I have healing spells. I chose this task because I found that the “stick” aspect of Habitica was not very motivating for me and made me feel like I didn’t want to keep using it. The “carrot” of getting in game rewards and goals works very well on its own.

Because of this I don’t always push myself to complete absolutely every task every day. Giving myself permission to leave some things helps me better assess how much I actually can do because I don’t get stuck in the “well I can’t do all of it I might as well not even open the app!” mindset.

I don’t use the “ToDo”s on Habitica for tasks. Instead I use them for goals I want to reach. Right now my ToDos are about the goals I want to reach with my finances but I lot of the time I leave this area blank.

Things Habitica Does Well

The main thing that makes me keep coming back to Habitica over other gamified task managers I’ve tried is that a daily won’t show you how many days overdue it is. It’s just a thing you need to do today and if you haven’t done it for 2 days or 10 days or whatever it doesn’t show you that. I always found seeing exactly how overdue a task is to feel really demoralising. Instead Habitica colour codes your tasks based on how regularly you do them. Something you do really frequently will be blue – it won’t give you so much of a reward when you complete it, but if you miss a day it won’t hurt as much. Something you find really hard will start to go orange and then red – it does greater damage if you keep missing it but it gives you bigger rewards for completing it since you obviously are finding it hard.

I will often look more closely at my remaining tasks and if I feel like I can only do one or more things for the day I will look at the tasks that are the most red and maybe leave a couple of blue tasks undone instead. If I’ve flossed my teeth every day for a month it’s probably fine to miss a day, you know? 

There is also a social aspect to Habitica – you can join a Party and go on quests with your real-life friends (a quest boss will damage the whole party if you miss your dailies so trying to keep your friends safe from harm can be motivating!) and you can also join Guilds where you can’t do quests but you can do challenges where all the people participating in a challenge will try and do the same set of tasks.

Things Habitica Doesn’t Do Well

So if you love Habitica so much why do you use Todoist as well?

In my opinion Habitica fails at one very important thing – tasks that need to be done at certain intervals but you’re not disciplined enough to actually do them every x days exactly.

While you can set up a task on Habitica to repeat every x days (or weeks, months or even years) it will always become due exactly on those intervals even if you completed it late or early. So if it’s due on every 3rd day and you complete it on the 2nd day it will still be due on the 3rd. You can work around this somewhat by making a note or adding a checklist item when you complete it and then only checking the daily off on the day it’s “due” on Habitica but this really doesn’t work well for me. If I would like to change the bedsheets every 2 weeks then if I leave it for 3 weeks or 4 weeks (or longer! It happens!) I want it to be due 2 weeks after I actually did it.

Todoist (which I’ll go into in another profile) in contrast to Habitica does these sorts of repeating tasks really really well. So I have a lot of repeating housework and social tasks in Todoist instead of Habitica and my Habitica tasks are about whether or not I’ve completed my Todoist tasks in certain projects.

Add Ons and Customisation

If you use Habitica in a browser there are a LOT of extensions and customisations which can customise the experience for you. There are addons that remove the Gamified aspects of the game entirely, or hide all the creepy animals (spiders and skeletons and such), there are ones that change the colours scheme to relaxing purples instead of the intimidating red and orange tasks. I use a browser addon to automatically feed my pets and another add-on to bulk sell my extra items. If you’ve used Habitica and it was perfect just apart from this one thing there might be an addon that fixes that or maybe you could make one if you’re into that kind of thing.

So that’s a little bit about Habitica and how it works for me. If you use Habitica please feel free to comment about what you like (or don’t like!) about it.

If you’ve got a Habitica account or you want to sign up for one my $2 patronage level will grant you an invitation to the STUFF up! your life Habitica Guild. I’ll be putting together some challenges on Habitica to help you try and get the most out of Habitica and keep using it. There is still time to change your pledge before the beginning of the month if you’d like an invitation!

Categories
tool profiles

Tool Profile: The Hub

This post was originally written back in September 2018 and no longer reflects exactly the apps or tasks I prioritise right now. But that’s not important!

I have one master list that contains everything. I mean it doesn’t actually contain everything but it references everything. For me this is Habitica (and I’ll go into detail about how Habitica works in a later post if you’re unfamiliar with it). But I have tasks in Habitica that reference the other tools that I use.

Things like

  • Check and Update Calendar
  • Update BuJo
  • Update Clue
  • Reach x-steps on Fitbit
  • Reach Karma Goal on Todoist

So I don’t have a bunch of different things I’m mentally trying to remind myself to update every evening. I have ONE list. And some of the things on that list tell me to check lists in other apps.

So why not just use one app? Well I haven’t ever found an app that does everything the way I want. I need a calendar and Google Calendar works really well… but if I add absolutely everything to my calendar as reminders it’s too much and too overwhelming. The tasks on Google are… not good enough (or weren’t last time I used them) especially for repeating or daily tasks. If I have all my daily tasks in a task list with my other todo stuff the list is too big and I can’t look at it. 

By breaking stuff up in this way I seem to be able to mentally cope better than looking at once enormous list of stuff. 

So if you’ve struggled to keep up with a calendar or a todo-list or a habit tracker because it didn’t do EVERYTHING or it quickly became too overwhelming to even open because ARGH… Try “The Hub”. Maybe you make a paper bullet journal as your hub. Or todoist. Or trello. Or something else! I don’t think it matters. Something you’ll enjoy using and use regularly and can keep your list small and manageable. 

What do you think? Do you do something similar already? What’s your “Hub”?

Categories
STUFF

STUFF – an introduction

You’re not coping.

You need a new routine. You need a new system. One that will actually work. Because if you do it right – if you build the right habits and the right routines in the right way then they’ll stick. Then you can add on to them. Then you can build up your routines and eventually get to the point where you can live your life. Am I right?

You know what you need to do. You know that you just need to eat better and sleep more and take more time for yourself and meditate and be present and keep on top of the housework so it doesn’t build up and and and and… 

So why don’t you? You don’t have the right journal. The right app. The right planner. The right tracker. Why can’t you just do it?

Because… It’s hard.

It’s not the routine. It’s not the system. It’s… the stuff. It’s hard.

It feels easy sometimes. So you start a new routine. You start a new system. It’s so easy! To begin with. And having a streak is motivating for a while. But then suddenly it’s hard again and now you’re too ashamed to look at it. And now you’re not coping.

STUFF isn’t a new routine. It’s not a system. It’s a strategy for managing your routines and your systems. A framework for dismantling your routines and putting them back together. Because you can’t keep waiting for things to get better. You can’t keep forwarding your problems to Future You.

Your Helpful Aunt tells you to think positive! Maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow and be motivated! But… maybe you won’t? Because Future You is just you… but older. 

Your life won’t begin once you get through this. Once you get on top of things. Once you do it right.

This, right now, is your life. 

When things are good it feels like they’ll keep getting better. But sometimes they don’t. And the expectations that you set when things are easy will crush you when things get hard. STUFF helps you manage the gap between what you can actually do and what you think you should be able to do… and helps you adjust as that gap changes over time.

Sometimes when you’re riding a bike you change gears. You change gears so that you can keep riding up a hill… or down. There’s no “best” gear to be in: it depends. With STUFF you can “change gears” when things get hard. By deciding in advance which expectations you’ll lower (or drop) you’ll have a plan to manage yourself when you need it – and a plan to work back to where you were if and when that’s realistic for you.

STUFF. Survival. Treading Water. Usual. Fulfilling. Future.

S – Survival. Survival gear is the absolute minimum. This is crisis mode. What absolutely needs to get done regardless of how bad everything else is? Food. Medication. Sleep.

T – Treading Water. A step up from Survival, Treading Water is the gear where your priority is to stop spiralling into crisis – to stabilise ready to get back to Usual. 

U – Usual. Your realistic expectations for whatever “normal” is for you. Maybe your “Usual” looks like someone else’s “Survival”. That’s okay! 

F – Fulfilling. Stretch goals for good days. Some days you do these things and that’s amazing! But when you can’t? That’s okay. 

F – Future. Future goals and aspirations. Maybe one day your Fulfilling tasks become your Usual. Here’s what comes next. 

Okay… so where do we start?

Categories
i make things

Cushion

In 2019 I released two issues of a Zine called Cushion. Both issues are now available for free on itch.io

Begin/Again is about starting things and making proto-friends

Chickpea is about Meal Planning

Visit STUFF up! your life on itch

Categories
i make things

How to fold fitted sheets

Sometimes I get an idea and I hyperfocus and make a thing. Like this one.

Categories
i make things

Should

Back in November 2018 I released Should – a twine thing, on itch.io.

It’s free to play and isn’t a game so much as a thought exercise on avoidance. Writing it actually really helped me do some things and I still think through it when I am avoiding things although I don’t play through it very often any more.

I hope you enjoy it!

Categories
website

Oh, it’s a website

You may or may not know but I used to make websites for a living. So is it surprising that it’s taken me so long to get a website for myself up and running? Of course not! After 10 years of it being my job it’s pretty hard to feel motivated to do all that for free.

But here it is! It’s not much right now (and a WHOLE BUNCH OF DEFAULTS). But It’s a thing! Something is better than nothing?

I spent a lot of time a while back coding some cog shapes in css without using any images. Probably I will… not use that.