User Spotlight: Dr. B of Take This!

Welcome to the User Spotlight Series, where we talk with Habitica users who are experts in their fields. First up is DoctorB, the Clinical Director of TakeThis, who’s chatting with us as part of our continuing post series for Mental Health Awareness Month!

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Hey DoctorB! Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a doctor of clinical psychology and the clinical director (Arch Psychomancer) of TakeThis.org, a mental health nonprofit that champions the message “It’s dangerous to go alone!” and spends our time educating on and destigmatizing mental health matters. Take This is also the creator of the world’s first staffed, mental health space at conventions – the AFK Room. Aside from my work with Take This, I also have a private practice in the Seattle area, I lead social skills groups using Dungeons & Dragons, and I’m an avid home chef.

How did you start using Habitica?

In 2016, I was at the Game Developers Conference for the first time, and I met Leslie [AKA: Lemoness] after a panel. We got to talking about what we respectively did, and she told me about this cool app she works on that allows you to turn your to-do lists and habits in to an RPG. I’ve seen a few things that tried to do this in the past (poorly), so I probably expressed some incredulity, but she really sold me on it. I downloaded it almost immediately and fell in love. It was so cool seeing someone finally do gamification of behaviors right. When I saw other things like this in the past, they often left out the “game” part, but seeing this as a real game which also happened to help keep me on task was a revelation. A few months later, Take This wrote a series of community challenges for Habitica that have been used by thousands over the last two years.

What some things you’re tracking in Habitica?

I have a few big projects Take This has in the works that Habitica is helping me keep on task for. I also like to use it to remind me to work out. It’s great for reminding me to keep a balance between passion projects and my own health. It’s really easy to overdo effort on passion projects.

What projects are you working on right now?

Aside from all the stuff we do at Take This (most notably building a streaming ambassador program), I’m building a day-long workshop for mental health professionals to train on how to use tabletop RPGs therapeutically. A lot of people underestimate the complexity of these types of projects, and they’re complicated to build. Habitica is helping me build it all a little at a time.  Take This is also writing a new series of 12 community challenges for Habitica.

Where do you like to hang out in Habitica?

Mostly with my own guild which is comprised almost entirely of the Take This staff and volunteers. That said, I love the community at large. Whenever I pop my head in to the forums, I love how supportive everyone is of everyone else.

What advice do you have for folks in the gaming community for healthy gaming/life balance?

I like to think of my goals and the behaviors that interfere with those goals. Games are fun, no doubt, but there are times when I can play them to the point of not going after my goals. It’s at those times I really have to rely on things like Habitica and put limits on what I do. For example, one of my Habits is “No video games between 10am and 6pm”. Given I often work from home, this is a legitimate temptation.

Any personal tips/tricks for using Habitica to manage mental health and wellness?

Start a guild with people who you personally know and talk to. I love having accountabilibuddies that can actually hold me accountable in a way strangers can’t.

Thanks, Dr. B! To learn more about using Habitica as a tool in your mental health journey, check out this month’s Guild Spotlight and Use Case Spotlight!

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USER SPOTLIGHT: Thomas Frank of College Info Geek!

Welcome to the User Spotlight Series, where we talk with Habitica users who are experts in their fields. First up is Thomas Frank, the studying savant behind College Info Geek!

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Hey Tom! Tell us a little about yourself.

“Hi there! My name is Thomas Frank, and I’m a guy from Iowa who spends an inordinate amount of time talking into microphones. I run College Info Geek, which is a YouTube channel, podcast, and blog that helps students learn better and become more productive. I also co-host an uncensored personal finance podcast called Listen Money Matters.”

How did you start using Habitica?

“I found Habitica back in 2014 shortly after I read The Power of Habit and The Motivation Hacker. This was around the same time I had found Beeminder as well, so I started using both in tandem and generally started taking my habits seriously.

This turned out to be one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made; up until that point, my business’ growth had been flatlining and my personal habits weren’t the best. After I started using both apps, my site’s growth took off due to a consistent publishing schedule, and my daily routine got a lot more productive. I also started making YouTube videos around that time, which really accelerated things.”

What some things you’re tracking in Habitica?

“Right now I only use Habitica for Dailies; it works in tandem with Asana for team-based tasks, Fitocracy for fitness tracking, and Beeminder for extra-hardcore publishing accountability. My current Dailies list includes:

  • Do the 7-minute workout
  • Fill the exercise bar on my Apple Watch (these first two ensure I’m exercising every day, but I also go to the gym regularly)
  • Plan next day (before bed)
  • Floss
  • Do a nightly exercise/stretching routine
  • Clear room to neutral (close all tabs, shut off computer, clean off desk, organize room)

I got knocked off my more ambitious routine this summer due to travel and some crazy work projects, so this small-ish dailies list is helping me build back up.”

You’re always juggling a lot of cool projects. What are you working on right now?

“We just finished working on a brand new edition of our student resources page, which also now includes a college packing guide. Now that we’re done with v1.0 of those pages, we’ll be starting work on our first online course very soon!”

Where do you like to hang out in Habitica?

“Lately I’ve been really working to reduce the amount of time I spend managing my productivity tools, so I’ve pretty much been logging in to check off my Dailies. My friend Martin runs our party, so I let him pick the quests we work on.

However, I did start the College Info Geeks guild, which now has over 7,200 members!”

What advice do you have for people during this Back-to-School season?

“I always find that it’s easier to make habit changes during a ‘turning point’ – a new semester, new job, new home, etc. I always liked to use my new semesters as reset periods; they provided me with motivation to set my schedule and habits to where I’d like them to be. Here are some more new semester tips if you’re curious!”

Any personal tips/tricks for using Habitica for studying?

“Experiment with making your Dailies and Habits either input-based or output-based. When I started using Habitica, I had an input-based daily reading goal: Read for 20 minutes. However, I found myself spending much of that 20 minutes daydreaming, so I wouldn’t make much progress in my book. To fix that, I switched my goal over to reading 25 pages a day – that incentivized me to stay on task while reading, and as a result I was able to read over 3,000 pages during a 3-month reading challenge.”

Thanks, Tom!

Want to learn more about studying with Habitica? Check out our School Resources!