Have you ever wished that your life was more like a video game? Visualized a “level up” sign above your head on your birthday? Imagined getting experience points for every project you turned in?
What if I told you that all of the above was not only possible, but also free?
Of course, you won't literally become a video game character. There won't be an extra life or a save/reload option, but you will have fun and you just might pick up a new hobby or kick a few bad habits. What am I talking about? The two apps – HabitRPG and Level Up Life – which combine gamification with productivity methods to challenge and motivate you in a refreshing and original way.
You might think these apps are yet another spin on the to-do list, and you'd be right – up to a point. They are a different kind of weapon in the seemingly never-ending battle against procrastination. These apps don't have boring checklists that you forget to look at or reminders that only burden you with guilt. Rather, they propose an exercise in productivity, asking you to imagine your life as a game and turn your tasks into quests. The software layer, i.e. the apps themselves are here to support you and lead you to your goals with all sorts of upgrades and incentives.
Both apps draw heavily on the RPG genre which is known (and loved) for its focus on character building and development. As you gather experience by completing quests, your skills improve and you can upgrade your vital stats such as health and strength. You also get rewards in the form of currency or items - either useful or not so useful but rare and very valuable, which can be sold or exchanged for something you need.
Some RPGs emphasize cooperation with other characters (real players or NPCs) whom you can ask to join your party. Together you can face more complex quests because, as a group, you will have a much wider assortment of skills, spells and equipment.
Don't worry, I won't reveal too much about HabitRPG and Level Up Life. This is only a preview, so there won't be any spoilers. You're free to explore the apps on your own, and you can use this text as a guide in deciding which one suits you better.
Level Up Life is the simpler of the two apps. It's designed to track your achievements and reward you for completing them with experience points which translate into gaining a higher level and upgrading your skills. If it sounds simple, that's because Level Up Life is simple – it doesn't require reading or learning specific rules. You can just create an account and immediately start working your way towards a new level.
Achievements are sorted in categories based on their content and context, and they aren't all available at the beginning. As you progress in the game (and life!), new and more challenging achievements will be unlocked.
The amount of experience points you get is proportional to the difficulty of an achievement, meaning you'll earn more points for complex ones.
Just like Bucketlistly, which we reviewed before, Level Up Life lets you add details and descriptions of your achievements; if you want, you can even upload a photo to remind yourself of your success, or to share the story with your friends and other players in the Level Up Life community.
By completing achievements you also create statistics about your life, so Level Up Life can be used not only for motivation, but for self-tracking as well. Since skill points are divided into categories as well, you can see which aspects of your life are improving faster than the others.
If you spend a lot of time in the gym, your STR (strength) stats will steadily increase. To make sure your INT (intellect) doesn't stay single-digit, you can read a book or start learning a new language.
Though it might seem like it's just fun and games, Level Up Life can help you maintain balance and control in your life. It will also give you a sense of satisfaction when you see all you've accomplished in one place.
HabitRPG, as the name implies, is a productivity app/game devised to help you form positive habits or get rid of those nasty ones like biting your nails, for example. However, you can use it for much more than that, since HabitRPG is very flexible and allows for tracking of different types of tasks.
Its game mechanics are much more developed than those in Level Up Life – HabitRPG feels and functions like a real RPG. If you've never played an RPG, you could easily end up puzzled by terms such as drops, mounts and the class system. The rules might seem convoluted at first, but you can rely on the HabitRPG wiki pages where everything is explained quite clearly.
As I mentioned, you can track several types of tasks: habits, dailies and to-dos. The first two are recurring, while to-dos are meant to be one-time or with occasional repetition. You can set a schedule for repeating tasks and color-code them for better organization. In this game, you (or your laziness and inactivity) are your biggest and worst enemy, as your character will receive damage for every task you fail to complete. On the other hand, finished tasks will earn you gold and silver, which you can use to obtain rewards and items such as weapons and armor.
Your progress in the game is measured by levels and it brings not only a sense of accomplishment, but also excitement, because new features and items will become available at higher levels. You don't have to go through this alone – at a certain point in the game, you will be able to get yourself a pet to accompany you through the forest of chores.
Even better, you can play HabitRPG with other people and get motivated by their success. You can create a party with other players and take up challenges, which are essentially competitions, or participate in boss fights. This is just a different name for learning responsibility, because boss fights cause damage to all members of a party if just one of them fails to complete a task.
HabitRPG has both iOS and Android versions in addition to the Web interface, so you can play it virtually anywhere. The attention to detail found in HabitRPG gives it a true RPG feeling, so checking off your tasks will actually seem like you are playing a game. The boring side of productivity is masked by a novel approach that can change the way you perceive your habits and willpower. The app is open source, so that's another reason to support it.
If you don't want to spend too much time managing your tasks, Level Up Life might be all you need, as it doesn't require much engagement apart from recording achievements. HabitRPG demands more, but also gives back more, and if you already have a productivity technique or system, HabitRPG can most likely adapt to it without compromising your convenience.
Now it's your time to choose. If post-its and endless to-do lists just don't cut it anymore, maybe you should play a game.
Ivana Isadora Devcic is a freelance writer, copyeditor and translator fluent in English, Swedish, Croatian and Norwegian. She's a Linux user and KDE fan interested in web design, productivity and personal branding. Ivana tweets about the world around her as @skadinna.