Try HabitRPG for a Daily Dose of Fun in a To-Do List

A boss fight.

A boss fight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HabitRPG: How and Why

I started using HabitRPG in September 2014. I have been looking for an all-in-one to-do list system that actually works for me, because I have a lot of scattered responsibilities among several spheres of life, including family, house work, providing therapy, writing blog posts, writing stories and novels and non fiction books, being a social justice activist (a druid, not a warrior, tyvm!), and taking care of myself in order to continue doing all of the above.

My work days often run twelve hours. There can be some down time in those hours, but twelve hours is still twelve hours. This is my “normal” for three or four days a week. So I have to figure out a “flexible” schedule that works with the fact that I don’t have time or energy for a lot of “extras” on those days, but keeps me on track on the other days – and makes sure I honor my body and mind’s need for downtime. That’s no easy task.

So my friend Faith messaged me the link on Facebook, asking me to check it out, knowing I’m both a gamer and a therapist. I agreed to “play test” it, and here I am. In describing the interface, I will be describing the PC interface for two reasons 1) I use it more and 2) it is more complete. Some features have not yet made it to the Android/IPhone versions, including challenges. This is, of course, subject to change.

The Basics:

When you first create an account (you’ll need a valid email account, but that’s it), click on your character avatar on the top left corner. Either choose free accessories for your avatar, or fork out the bucks (or assistance with the site) that the really cool stuff costs. The game is “free plus” – all functions except creating a guild are free, but you pay real money or complete specific tasks for real money credit. Unlike many “free to play” game, full functionality with the exception of leadership (creating guilds) is free, and that is a refreshing change.

The game is designed to help you reach your goals. To-do list items are broken down into three categories: Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos. Habits are things you want to do more often (or stop doing) but not necessarily on a regular schedule. Dailies have a regular, predictable schedule and you expect yourself to do them on the days you’re supposed to do them. You can edit dailies to be every day up, every other day, or weekly. Monthly task options are in development. To-do list items are one time or rare tasks.

Pick a couple of things you regularly do daily to be your daily tasks (you want to reward yourself for things you’re already doing, of course) and then a thing or two you want to be doing daily, but aren’t quite achieving. (The Tavern on the social tab has lots of cool challenges. See below to access it) Then pick a couple of habits you’d like to gain or lose, and add your “one time” tasks to the to do list. If you want to get fancy, assign checklists, due dates, and difficulty factors to the tasks. On the habits, choose whether doing them earns you points, loses you points, or loses if you go in one direction and gains if you go in the other.

Assign yourself the task of turning on the sign theme, go to the sound settings on the tool bar, turn on the Daniel the Bard theme, and click the little check mark. Hear that? Instant gratification.

Social Stuff:

Next, click on the social tab. Here you will find the Tavern, Parties, Guilds, and Challenges. On the Tavern page you will also find the Inn. When you want to take a day off from tracking your habits, check yourself into the Inn, and none of your dailies will penalize you. If you are in a Party working on a shared goal, however, and in a Boss Fight, you can still lose hit points. So don’t rest in the middle of a Boss Fight (you’d think it’d be obvious!)

After the tavern (which also has helpful FAQs) check out the Party structure (for when you and friends or acquaintances want to tackle a challenge together). If you want, create an “empty” party to quest solo (after level 10)

Now comes the fun part (really!) Guilds in HabitRPG are interest based. There are health and fitness guilds, guilds for getting the chores done, guilds for students, financial health guilds, mental health guilds, Whovian guilds, guilds for pretty much any interest you can think of. Once you’ve chosen a few guilds based on your interests, click over to the Challenges tab (only available on Mac and PC), where you can choose challenges (some with pretty neat prizes) to pick Habits, Dailies and ToDos based on your interests

In fact, I recently created two guilds (“Therapy Homework” and “Quitting Poverty”). Therapy Homework (linked to this website and JenniferLilesLCSW.com, the website for my private practice) is the stuff you should be doing between therapy sessions, broken down by goals and mental health issues. I am always looking for more ideas, so feel free to add more or simply comment on this post to have me add it for you. “Quitting Poverty” is linked to my new website QuittingPoverty.com (formerly MakingDoMakingBetter) for people in or near poverty who wish to learn how to develop relative financial stability in their lives from the ground up.

Okay, I admit it, I’m really, really geeking out about HabitRPG.com. It’s seriously cool and it’s seriously useful for someone like me who is both someone who struggles to get everything done on a daily basis and is in the business of helping others.

Every time I check off a Habit or Daily or To-Do, I get a little rush from the little “task completed” sound. Every time I level up I play around with all the new nifty things I can do (at level 10 you can choose a traditional RPG class. Of course I chose Healer. Why would you even ask such a thing?).

The website is just starting out, and there are lots of opportunities to help the developers. You could create pixel art for them, or create guilds and challenges, code for the Iphone or Android apps, or handle any one of the other tasks on the list. It’s free to play, but of course the developer hopes to make money someday, and frankly I think his financial model is as inobtrusive and reasonable as any I’ve seen.

The chat portions of the site are carefully moderated to a PG level, so the site is safe for children. There is one four letter word (f*ck) on the site, one that is in the middle of the website name of an excellent website (nickname UFYH) for young adults on how to clean their rooms and apartments and homes. Because the challenge names don’t allow for HTML, that one is likely to stay for awhile, and for good reason. The site is an excellent resource.

So head on over to www.HabitRPG.com and check it out. Play around with it, tell your friends, and of course, share this article so they have a good quick start guide to enjoying it. Have fun storming the castle!

(This will be part one of several articles. Habit RPG is evolving, and so is my use of it. So keep watching, and don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter!)


Double Knit Houndstooth Scarf

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Double Knit Houndstooth Scarf

 

My sister in law Ann lives in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China, where she teaches English at a University. Baotau is mountainous and extremely cold in the winter, so when she comes home in the summer, I always try to knit one thing she can take back with her and use. Last year it was a pair of houndstooth fingerless gloves (pattern here, which I adapted for three colors, with green and red repeating on a gray background).

This year I decided to make a houndstooth scarf to go with it. Because Baotau is really, really cold, I made the scarf double knit, out of a wool and silk blend from KnitPicks called Gloss DK.  If you are on a budget, Lion Brand Wool Ease (bonus: it’s washable!) is a perfectly acceptable substitute. The Scarlet color in the original has been discontinued by Knitpicks.

This was not an easy project. It was in some ways the hardest I have ever done. This is the sort of project that benefits from stitch markers and some way to count rows, as the most common mistake I made was to knit one too many row of the pattern, skip a row, or get the row “off” by one stitch. Continue reading

Anti-Vax: Dangerously Wrong about Autism and Vaccinations

Français : Vaccination contre la grippe A (H1N...

Flu vaccination in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to tell someone when they are not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. I ran into this recently at a conference on autism. Not only some of the attendees, but some of the presenters had fallen into the dangerous and discredited belief that autism is caused by vaccinations.

Putting aside for a moment why a nationally recognized autism advocacy organization would support this position (suffice it to say that I will not be giving this organization any more of my money), I want to deal with why people believe this even though the evidence the theory was based on was manufactured by a man who lost his medical license over the fraud.

First of all, autism is a terrifying diagnosis for most parents. A child appears to be developing normally until the point where speech begins, and then stops or regresses with regard to social and verbal behavior and emotional regulation. The family goes from pride and delight in their child to sudden and seemingly inexplicable worry and fear. And coincidentally, the age at which a child will often begin showing signs of autism is the same age at which a child is going through their standard immunization schedule. Continue reading

The limitless mind: why children call dogs cats and adults form prejudices

I found this nifty article and got permission to share it with you. I hope you like it.

As human beings we are obsessed with finding simplicity in a complex world. Psychologists have come to realise that we have innate cognitive tendencies to simplify social interactions, situations and experiences, and called the concept ‘schema’. Schemata…

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Continue reading