Make your TODO list something you’ll come back to

Do you ever feel like you’ve got so many things on your plate that you’ve have a hard time even listing them out? The book Getting Things Done suggests keeping a system of record, because every single thing you rely on your wetware to keep track of adds to your stress. Plus you’ll forget stuff.

Part of my problem is that I’m so easily distracted. I’ve actually vetoed picking up Minecraft or any of several MMORPGs because I don’t think I’d get any work done for six months. The twitch reflex is strong with this one.

(But not just me. All day I see other people with their noses in their phones, constantly getting their Facebook hit, or whatever.)

So I was looking for a system that would work for me. And I came across a free, volunteer project called Habitica (formerly HabitRPG). This is at its core a pretty conventional online tracker for habits, daily tasks, and longer-standing TODO items. But it’s also something that can satisfy your twitch reflex, giving you something to check in on throughout the day.

If you look at the kinds of games people constantly play on their personal devices, you’ll come away with newfound appreciation for how much mere pixels can motivate. The game-changing difference with Habitica is that all the game achievements are tied to real-world things that you’ve decided you should be doing.

Perform a good habit or tick off a daily task? You win gold.

Perform a bad habit or miss a daily task? You lose health points.

Over time your pixel character can level up, gaining new abilities. You’ll find yourself scouring your life for more things you can track in your TODO list, giving your future-self the satisfaction and reward of ticking them off.

Once you get into the swing of it, there’s social features as well. Several players can team up in an accountability group, where they battle a boss character (by completing tasks and TODOs), but if any member of the party doesn’t complete their dailies, ALL the party members take damage.

Pixels don’t mean a thing. But any system that encourages a mindset of tracking your TODO items and periodically revisiting them is a good thing in my book.

So Habitica isn’t for everyone. You have have enough of the twitch reflex to keep checking in with the website or iOS app, and not let your lists molder. And if you fire up the colorful main screen in a business setting, you might get some suspicious and/or jealous glances, through there is an extensive add-on section which includes alternative stylesheets that look less like an RPG.

Even if you’re prone to overspend time in apps, there’s very little downside to trying it out to see how it works for you.

Like this information? Sign up for my free mini course (in progress) about finding productivity despite whatever mental quirks we’re all dealing with.

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