User Spotlight Special Edition: Tips for Back-to-School!

It’s Back-to-School season, so in addition to our Back-to-School challenge and all our usual features, we thought you’d bring you some inspiration in the form of testimonials from users who’ve already figured out how to use Habitica to help them meet their school-related goals.

Illustration by RoseMonkey

First, Maybe Steve Rogers (who runs the huge guild for academic Habiticans of all stripes, The Scholars) tells us about her simple method for keeping on top of work during her third year at university:

My biggest problem with studying is just getting started, so my plan is very simple: I have one Daily, active 6 days a week, that’s just “study for 1 hour”. Linked to that, I have one all-positive Habit: I get to tick it once for every extra 30 minutes of focused studying I do. That’s it. That’s enough to keep me on track, and the Habit counter resets weekly, so I can really keep an eye on how good I’ve been. For bigger projects, I find a number of the challenges in the Scholars guild are perfectly suited to join and leave when necessary.

This system is simple, but it helps keep me afloat when I am otherwise definitely the kind of person who shirks deadlines until I’m drowning in them.

Moderator shanaqui has been using Habitica for their dissertation:

For my dissertation, I had to do a ton of pretty technical reading, and I also had to make sure it was up to date by the time I finished writing the thing. And then on top of that there was actually completing the assignments and the writing part. So I had a daily set for Tuesdays and Thursdays for searching for literature, a daily set for Fridays to actually sit down and read the stuff I found, and to-dos set with the deadlines of the interim assignments. Then I’d add to-dos as I went along with self-imposed deadlines. That way I could see all my deadlines and I was also being forced to make constant progress on doing the research.

Meanwhile, NoilyPrat has suggestions from how she’s using Habitica with her daughter, NessaGrace, for homeschooling:

We have had Habitica for 1.5 years, and starting a new year with it next Monday (August 20th). As a teacher, I find my worst habits were to delay grading critical papers for constructive feedback. To list each lab that needed grading under each module does take time, but seeing it on Habitica gives me a fresh POKE to do it. Plus it’s so much fun to check off to “kill” the latest monster with all my hard sweat and tears. I’m getting better, because I’m trying to do them before the to-do turns red. Right now I’m in the process of typing up a syllabus for next year on our system, and at the same time I’m typing up on Habitica what I’ll need to grade in this first quarter. I do them in quarters to keep the to-dos from turning red.

My daughter has each of her subjects on dailies, which she must complete before checking them off. This helps cut down on the nagging, “Did you get your schoolwork done?” Plus, any damage done the next day I’m asking which of her subjects she missed. (In a perfect world. Most of the time I don’t ask!) When everything is checked off, her day is finished. Occasionally Daddy asks to see her Habitica to check up on her. I think she likes that.

And here’s vtrnnhlinh’s souped-up Habitica set-up for school season:

First, I format all. And I have some rules for the formatting like: bold for dates, limits and something needs seriously notice; italics for nouns like names; both bold and italics for the properties. Ex:

And I copy the emoji to make the task more interesting with: Emoji Cheat Sheet

Secondly, I organized tags. Because I use Habitica for all. So I created: Healthy, Learn, Study, Relax, Chores, Work and Creativity.

I use Learn for school work, Study for my MOOCs, learn programming or anything I teach myself. For school work, I use each task for a subject.

Finally, I create routine with Habits. I’ll create a habit that at that time, I’ll learn or study or do something creativity without effort – don’t need inspired or motivated video.

If I focus to learn in a Pomodoro session, I’ll check + and if not, I’ll check -. If I did it but not in the time period I set and don’t have an acceptable reason, I also check -. Just make sure to create the habits. Create habits help you learn easier.

And if I do pretty good in a week, I’ll watch a movie and get a snack as the rewards.

If you have more Back to School needs, you should totally check out Guilds like The Scholars, the Graduate Student Guild and The Homeschool Guild. There are always Habiticans ready to share their experiences and cheer you on!

Plus, for even more of a motivation boost, check out our Back-to-School Preparation Challenge! The tasks will hopefully help you get ready for the school year, plus there are gem and subscription prizes. It runs until September 30.

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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!

DrB

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!

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!