Establishing Habits with Habitica

I have used Habitica the last 18 months to organize my habits and things I want to get done. I believe it all started with an amazing book called The Power of Habit which describes the amazing benefits habits can give, both in the context of your own life but also in business. The argument is that habits is the basis for success in whatever area you might be interested in. For me exercise and finishing school were the big driving factors. Even though I was fairly unmotivated with school the last year I managed to get in the habit of regular study and I also used Habitica as my TODO list which basically pulled me through the writing of writing my master’s thesis.

After I finished school and started working at Configura I’ve sadly been neglecting Habitica a little bit. I still used it every day but a lot less ambitiously than previously, it basically turned into checking off the few still relevant dailies. But I’m now feeling motivated again so I’ve collected new habits I want to do and I’m using Habitica to help me achieve it.

Habitica is an RPG game where you level up after you complete habits, dailies or To-Dos. The idea is to do real life actions and log them in the game to collect gold, pets and levels. It’s a simple idea and it doesn’t sound like much, but for me the added goals has made it lot more effective than simply writing in a notebook or similar.

With the gold you collect you can buy better gear or buy custom rewards. My idea here is to add things I want to buy or things I want to do there but I haven’t really used it as much before so I’m not sure how effective it’ll be.

I’m a serial procrastinator and a technique I’ve used with some success is to have some items on my To-Do list which looks important but really aren’t. When I procrastinate I actually try really hard not to do something even to the point that I do other things instead! So these important looking items acts as honey pots for the procrastination. For example the item “Register .bit domains” has a perceived importance cause I want to have one and I really should get one soon… But in reality it’s no hurry as they are not useful in the general sense and I can easily postpone it a month or even a year or two.

In the general I’ve gotten a lot of usage out of the To-Do list but in practice you could accomplish the same with pen and paper. The more interesting parts are “Habits” and “Dailies”. They both refer to real-life habits but dailies in Habitica are things you’re supposed to do every day, or on a set of days in the week, and habits are items with positive or negative interactions.

These were the main focus of my reorganization and to further the immersion factor I used emoji and I renamed them to be more RPG like so for example “Take D-Vitamins” became “Health Stims” and “Read” became “Lore”.

My main focus has always been on the dailies, I never click habits regularly. But adding a habit as a daily with the intent of doing it every day is a really effective way of making sure I complete it regularly. The risk is of course that you mark it as completed anyway, but luckily I only do it very rarely. As you get both a boost and an additional “Perfect Day” stat I feel very incentivized to complete all my dailies. You also get a streak counter for each daily and I feel really bad about breaking a big streak.

What follows is a rundown on some of the habits I’m trying cultivate:

  1. I’m trying out the Wim Hof Method which I found through a podcast. I basically do a set of breathing exercises every morning and I also do some stretches in the morning.
  2. As I’m very stiff I want to try to do isometric stretches a couple of times a week.
  3. I recently started following Talk To Me in Korean as I want to learn Korean. I use it conjunction with Anki a flashcard program for spaced repetition. The habit I want to establish is to practice a little bit every day.
  4. As I love to read but I’m also very bad at making time for it I’m trying to make it a habit to read 15 minutes before I go to sleep.
  5. Brushing my teeth and taking D-vitamins are perfect things to add. I’ve been pretty good at doing it and I’ve had a couple of months long streak of doing them but sadly I’ve forgotten to report it to the site so the streak has been broken…
  6. I listened to a podcast with Pavel Tsatsouline just yesterday and it got me really inspired for going to the gym. I will try to follow the 80/20 Powerlifting routine:
    Only do 3 exercises; deadlift, squats and bench. Always 5 sets with 5 repetitions.
    Tuesday: Heavy squats
    Thursday: Heavy bench, light squats
    Saturday: Heavy deadlift, light bench
    The original program had another component: Competition. I’m not sure if I want to do that though…

Now this is just the general idea. I’m well aware that this may crash and burn but if I successfully do at least half of these things (historically I’m well above that) I consider it a huge accomplishment for me.