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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Habitica lets you kill monsters, get loot, be productive

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Nobody likes having a list of things hanging over their head, but everybody’s got stuff that simply needs to get done. The key is how to motivate yourself to finish those tasks, and the answer is a system of ice cream rewarding behavior. Or, you know, turn it into a game. Habitica certainly isn’t the first service to gamify your to-do list, but it’s the first one that’s really sucked me in.


The app, available on the web and for iOS, merges to-do lists with classic RPG tropes and social networking to provide a potent potion of productivity, letting you team up with friends to get things done and acquire sweet loot along the way. Moreover, Habitica also aims to help you build good habits by providing a way to reinforce that good behavior you want to do every day. Also you get to create a character and arm them to the teeth, and who doesn’t love that?

Unsurprisingly, this is the sweet spot for me. You need look no further than our own Total Party Kill podcast to see my love of role-playing games and adventures and like everybody, I’ve got a to-do list that often seems as long as a half-giant’s arm.

So I’ve been using Habitica for a month or so now, not only to track my normal everyday to-do items, but also to try and encourage myself to simply do certain things more often. In addition to your one-off to-do items and recurring items, Habitica also lets you create “habits.” They’re not to dos, precisely, but more like sliding scales that you shift slightly everyday that you do them. So, for example, some of the habits I’ve got included reading more, walking 30 minutes a day, eating better, and so on.

Every time you complete items or reinforce habits, you get experience and gold. Don’t complete your items? Your character may lose some health–especially if you’re engaged in a dangerous quest.1

Yes, quests! There are quests! Habitica’s other joy is letting you party up with friends and take on quests, knocking off your items to damage a larger monster and potentially accruing new items along the way. (My personal favorite: eggs that you can hatch into pets, then feed until they become large enough to ride.) Over time you level up, and once you hit a certain threshold you can even change classes–everybody starts as a warrior–and get access to new gear.

Overall, I really enjoy Habitica, though I’ve got a few minor complaints. For one, it’s sometimes hard to figure out if something should be a daily to-do or a habit, and what the relative benefits or disadvantages are. That’s in part because, despite pop-up windows that try and explain what’s going on when you load each section of the app for the first time, some mechanics aren’t explained well. (I didn’t know, for example, that you can essentially hide in the inn if your health is running low.) And it unfortunately doesn’t integrate with iOS’s Reminders, so you can’t use Siri to add items to your Habitica list.

The app and service are free, though there are of course in-app purchases which let you buy gems that you can then turn into in-game items that you otherwise have to generally wait to get from random drops.

If your run-of-the-mill to-do app simply isn’t cutting it anymore and you’re a fan of the RPG genre, Habitica might very well be just what you need to get back on the warhorse.

  1. My character has not perished yet, but he has come darn close a couple of times. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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