Habitica isn’t strictly a mental health app, but if staying organized keeps your head above water, it could be a great part of your mental-health toolbox. It’s one of a few productivity apps that turn getting things done into a game, and it’s almost as adorable as it is helpful.
Here’s the thing about gamified productivity apps: they often make compromises on the productivity side for the sake of the game. Habitica doesn’t do that. It lacks the complexity of a Getting Things Done app, but it supports checklists, due dates and some tagging. Most importantly, adding and checking off items is quick and easy.
You set up an avatar when you first launch Habitica, and customize it to your tastes–skin color, hair color, and so on. As you complete tasks, you gain experience and gold that you can use to improve your avatar. If you abandon your tasks, you begin to lose health. Straightforward rewards and motivation.
Tasks are broken down into three types, and this is where Habitica really works for me. There are To-Dos, which do what you’d expect. Dailies are tasks that you can check off every day–or on certain days of the week. If you want to keep track of taking your medication, using your therapy light, getting some exercise, or anything else you want to keep up with on a regular basis, Dailies are the answer.
Habits are a little different. You can set them as positive things – something to be rewarded for every time you do them. Meditating, journaling, working on something you like. You can also set them as negatives, or both.
So ignore your tasks or do something negative, lose a little health. Do something positive, get a little gold and experience. And why care about gold? Because you can buy cool stuff. Cool stuff like armor, weapons, and health potions to earn yourself a reprieve when you need one.
Every so often, you also get an egg. Eggs are fun. Eggs can be hatched into all kinds of pets. You can get a lion, a wolf, a cactus, a flying pig–and you can hatch them into ten varieties each. Want a candy pink panda? You can make that happen.
If going alone isn’t your thing, you can work with a party. Parties are groups of friends who go on quests, doing specific challenges for special rewards. It’s a way of keeping each other accountable while working through your tasks. If you’re ever feeling lonely, you can also chat with strangers (or new friends) in the Tavern. The chat is moderated, so it’s not a bad place to talk about your productivity and game strategies.
Habitica goes as deep as you want to go with it. On its own, it’s a fun productivity app. With friends it can be much more. Either way, it’s not a bad way to get things done.