I've been woefully neglecting my blog lately. So much so that I even forgot to post about the awesome Toasted Cake podcast of my flash story "A Primary Function"
. This story remains one of my favourites, because it's just plain evil.
This blog isn't the only thing I've been neglecting. From writing, to eating my five-a-day, to getting the stairs instead of the lift, it's very easy to take the path of least resistance. Especially when you spend all day at work, come home to cooking and cleaning (more work), and still have to write something (which by then feels a lot like work). In an effort to make the things I'm supposed to do more fun, I've joined a site called Habit RPG
It's basically a website where you make a list of all the things you need to do, then check them off as you do them. You can have Habit, which are things you want to get in the habit of doing or not doing - which can have a positive or negative value (for example taking the stairs versus taking the lift). You can have Dailies, which are things that need to be done every day or on specific days of the week. Or you can have To Dos, which are things you really should get around to doing at some point, like your taxes. You can set these up with checklists too, which is ideal for long-term projects.
The reason this is better than just keeping it all on a piece of paper, is that it's also a game. Specifically, as the title suggests, a roleplaying game. You start as a little warrior avatar, and checking off your tasks gets you gold to buy equipment, and XP to level up with. If you click a negative habit, or fail to check off a daily, you take damage. At level 10 you can choose a character class (warrior, healer, wizard, or rogue). I picked rogue, because I know myself well enough to admit I'm mostly in it for the random drops, which rogues get more of.
Every so often checking off a task will drop a random item on you: eggs, from which you can hatch cute little pets, and hatching potions which determine the flavour of pet you get. Combining a flying pig egg and a zombie hatching potion gets you an ugly yet amusing zombie flying pig. I'm personally waiting for a shade potion so I can hatch an evil panda. Because why not?
It also fosters a sense of co-operation. You can join a Guild, which is a bunch of people with an interest in common, or a Party in which to do quests. Some quests are "drop quests" where your random drops include items the party is trying to reach a particular number of, and boss fights where doing your tasks causes damage to some random evil you're trying to defeat. The other side of this is that your missed dailies go towards the damage the boss does and so can hurt the rest of the party.
So far it's got me eating my five a day and climbing the stairs, stopped me eating crisps, and helped me organise a massive house clean. I currently have writing and submitting down as habits, but I'm about to switch some of them over to dailies for that spot of extra motivation. Since my main problem is remembering to do the things I've decided I need to do, having them all in one place and getting rewards for doing them is really helping.
I know some people will look down on using a game as a motivator, but frankly we're not all super-organised and saintly, and able to do all of life's Shoulds without a bit of help. I'm not interested in the kind of outlook that says life should be all about being sensible and adult. And neither is my zombie flying pig.