Habitica and the Nonproductivity of Gamification

I’ve spent the last month slowly tweaking my Habits and Dailies on Habitica. They needed it. There were things on both lists that came from old challenges or were not relevant to how I currently work. There were things I added to both lists that were no longer relevant to the work I’m doing. So with an eye toward my current projects and future plans, I’ve been working my way through both lists, removing expired tasks, modifying tasks that could be more beneficial (I use the checklists on the Dailies and Tasks, so those got an overhaul), and adding new tasks as needed.

It’s brought to light a few problems in my current workflow, things I’ll need to address in coming weeks.

Earlier this year, I started experimenting with Tiny Habits. While I really like the idea and understand the benefit, I’ve struggled to identify good Tiny Habits for my own life and work. Or I’ve struggled to implement those Tiny Habits. Having the accountability of Habitica and my party helps to a certain degree, but it hasn’t turned out to be a strong motivator. So, things that really need to be a part of my daily life for multiple reasons have not only not become routine, they’ve become ignored.

This overhaul has also revealed just how little effort I’m currently putting into my writing. I’ve written for so long that people who barely know me quickly come to understand that I write…and yet it’s fallen by the wayside in pretty much every way imaginable. Just look at the last year on this blog. Look at the last few months on deviantArt. Writing is considered by many, myself included, to be one of my core activities. It’s a core part of activities I’m pursuing. And yet even with Habitica tasks, I’m not only unmotivated, I’m demotivated to get anything done. (When I challenge myself on this, I remind myself that my voiceover workload has been sufficiently busy since April to leave me little time for much else. But I can’t get my personal voiceover projects done if I’m not writing.)

This is the danger of living through gamification. Being rewarded for completing tasks with little or uncertain nutritional value, as it were. As I say this, I know that’s not Habitica’s actual goal. They’re hoping users will build goals and associated tasks that will help them grow in the directions they want to go. But it’s too easy to not understand or review what you’re doing within that aspiration, and so it’s easy to do the absolute minimum to check something off or to find other ways around the incoming damage for not getting things done.

So, my goal as we come into the last weeks of 2016 is to review my Tiny Habits, my Dailies, my tasks. My project log, actually. (I’ve already started this.) To set a direction for my voiceover work, and rebuild or tweak existing habits, dailies, and project tasks to move toward that direction. To set a direction for my writing work, and rebuild or tweak Habitica to help me get closer to staying on the path.

Who’s with me? What area of your life could use a bit of an overhaul and a push in the right direction?

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