HabitRPG – Productivity can be Fun

As something a productivity junky, the perfect to-do list app is my own Holy Grail. There are countless options and each app has different features that appeal to some users and the one I currently use might be too nerdy for most, but HabitRPG is becoming the most used app on my phone and computer. To call HabitRPG a to-do list app is actually a bit inaccurate as that barely scratches the surface of what it does.

HabitRPG basic mage and character in gear
A basic mage and then my character decked out in gear

HabitRPG uses game mechanics to motivate users to develop good habits, break bad ones, and be more productive. It does this by applying role playing game (RPG) concepts to a traditional to-do list. Users will create a character via basic 8-bit style options. That character has stats typical of a RPG: Health, Experience, Mana, and Gold – completed tasks earn you experience and gold which can be used to level up your character or buy new equipment. While it might seem silly, that added bonus of gold or experience has motivated me to knock a couple items off my to-do list when I otherwise might have continued to ignore them.

In addition to the gaming elements and character creation, HabitRPG does a few other things I really like that I haven’t seen in other apps. Beyond the traditional to-do list, there is also a Habits list and a Dailies list. I was unpleasantly surprised that creating recurring daily to-dos wasn’t a common feature of most apps. Many of my tasks are things I have to do every single day but that I don’t always remember. This tool lets me easily see what they are and what I have left without having to recreate the list every day. You can also easily set the days when they should be active for less frequent tasks. The Habits list is for things you’d like to either do more or less often. As a means of tweaking and developing habits, this has worked out well for me. The ‘Drink Water, not Pop’ habit has made me reconsider that afternoon pop and get a glass of water instead a number of times. Each option has a + button that gives you a reward and a – button that punishes you. Run out of health and your character dies.

list layout
The HabitRPG list layout

HabitRPG also has some great social functionality. Users are able to form a group to go on “quests” together. This usually introduces a boss that must be fought. Completed To-Dos and Dailies do damage to the boss at the end of the day and unfinished Dailies do extra damage to the party. After beating the boss, the players are rewarded with gold and sometimes unique items. There are also larger guilds where people with common interests can get together.

fiery gryphon
Current big bad, the fiery gryphon

HabitRPG needs additional development in some key areas that might be a deal breaker for users. It doesn’t really integrate with other apps to the degree other options do. The mobile apps are still in development so there is a gap of functionality between the website and the apps. But new features appear regularly. Sorting or prioritizing to-dos can be difficult and I’ve seen the list reorder itself from time to time. It can also be difficult to do long range planning in the app. There really isn’t a place to put things that several weeks out without making your to do list overly cumbersome. Because of this I often do planning in Trello and populate my HabitRPG to do list on a daily basis.

If you are looking for extra motivation (and some fun) to get through your task list I can’t recommend HabitRPG enough. Especially if you are a fan of RPG games and are familiar with the language. I endorse it so much, I even signed up for a subscription account. To-Do and productivity apps tend to focus just on productivity, there is no reason you can’t also have a bit of fun doing so.


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