I am doing this post right now because there is a contest and I would like to win a thing (if you comment). Chances are, I would have gotten around to it sooner or later, because I like accomplishteering. And I wrote this post awhile back and some said you'd explore HabitRPG. I want to know if you did yet.

This is the gif you get when you search for "Did you do it yet?" HabitRPG works like that sometimes.

HabitRPG is basically an RPG for your life - sort of a to-do list, but one that you can win (see, I like winning), and by extension, die (there are real stakes here, like losing all your gold and equipment). If you like winning, you'll like this game. I failed at a bunch of other to-do lists, because the auto-advance for tasks I hadn't yet completed was both necessary and demotivating. Why do something when you can do it tomorrow without punishment? HabitRPG is best described in a nutshell by the creator, because I've already written two paragraphs not having to do with the challenge and he described it in two minutes:


Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I will proceed to describe how I use HabitRPG as a full-time graduate student in molecular biology - this means I work summers, too, and "back to school" is just a season when I can buy office supplies on sale. (I can't find where I wrote that, but I have definitely had a conversation with you guys about my love for office supplies. My birthday is next week and you should buy me office supplies. I have standards for pens, though, so please don't send those without checking. And no spiral notebooks, please. They get crushed too easily and then I can't open them.)


So, as a graduate student, I stumbled across HabitRPG in the first semester in which I had no classes (being taught or teaching myself) - the semester I was trying to study for my up-to-three hour qualifying exam, but had no real other duties. In other words, the semester during which I, a person who thrives on structure, had none, and might have procrastinated (and consequently failed, because that does happen). The things that helped me:

  • Joining the Graduate Student Guild, and consequently participating in challenges. When I didn't know what I wanted to put in my dailies list, I used the challenges as a model. The daily called "Make a to-do list for tomorrow" has really helped me get more stuff done. The daily called "turn on the lights" is more embarrassing, but sometimes I forget to turn on the lights in my desk space and spend the entire day trying not to fall asleep. The challenge for waking up earlier has led to some longer, but way more productive days. If you find it difficult to self-motivate, Habit has lots of ways to do that.
  • Did you know you can set your dailies to only appear on certain days of the week? I'm still working on taking out the trash the day before it's due to be picked up from the trash room, but I'm a lot better at it. But I do check my finances every Sunday now.
  • To-dos: for those persistent errands I keep forgetting to run. Sometimes I'll put a task as a to-do if it's a "someday" task: when I have free time, I revisit the to-do list and see if I can knock one out. Like this blog post.
  • Habits: I put in things like take a walk, take the stairs (suggested by HabitRPG itself I think), drink another cup of tea, refrain from touching my face — it's all working a lot better.
  • But the habits that help the most: complete a thing and complete a thing you've been putting off for a long time. Habit, as Tyler points out in that video, is designed for things you need to do regularly, or longer-term to-dos. But what if you have multiple to-dos for every day? Your to-do list gets cluttered really fast. What I do is use the "write a short to-do list for tomorrow" daily to make sure I write the list in my planner. Yep, my planner is a to-do list, the thing I swore I failed at. But with Habit, I have incentive to check off my to-do list: when I complete a task in my planner, I get to hit the plus sign for the habit. MOAR POINTS.
  • Parties are sometimes like public shaming, when you're on a quest. Public humiliation (in small degrees) does work when all else fails?
  • But what about vacation, or a time you're sick and you just need a break? That's what Resting in the Inn is for. I was there last weekend while at a conference.
  • But sometimes HabitRPG isn't enough. That's why I still have a paper planner, for the details. Habit helps me stay accountable to my planner, and that's what matters. But I still use Toggl most days to figure out what the hell I did all day, because in biology, nothing takes the same amount of time every time you do it, and my planner's already full of to-do lists.


This post is brought to you by a contest I want to win. I probably wouldn't have written it if it wasn't a to-do that I got when I entered the challenge. (I get entered for comments but not stars, so feel free to ask away in the comments. And share. Because I might win if I get at least five comments.)

ETA: JOIN THE GUILD. INVITE THE PEOPLE. But log in first, or you'll be directed away from the guild.