Do you ever have those days when staying disciplined and motivated just seems impossible? When checking off the next item on your to-do list feels like too much? That’s normal — we all struggle with those days.
Just because you aren’t always motivated doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive! You just need to make it more fun.
When you’re feeling short on discipline, try supercharging your productivity and self-improvement with a little more fun using these iPhone apps.
What Is Gamification?
If you’re not familiar with gamification, it’s a very simple concept: turning tasks into games. You can gamify just about anything, from daily chores to long-term goals. People have used gamification to help them learn languages, stop smoking, lose weight, pick up a new skill, and even clean up an overbooked schedule.
It’s showing up everywhere, from gyms to personal development websites. Why is it so popular? In addition to being trendy at the moment, it’s just more fun. Which would you be more motivated to do: check an item off of a list, or gain some experience and get closer to leveling up? It’s all about perspective, and gamification helps you maintain a more fun outlook on the things you have to do.
Many gamification systems rely on RPG-like leveling up, collecting items, and unlocking rewards. You often collect points for completing your tasks, which improves your character and moves you closer toward a goal. The fact that this goal doesn’t really matter very much is totally irrelevant — it still gives you a more tangible target, and that makes anything more interesting.
Let’s take a look at how a few iPhone apps can use these principles to help you improve your life.
Habitica (formerly HabitRPG) is one of the most popular websites for gamifying your to-do list (our own Justin Pot used it to improve his own life), and they recently released an iPhone app that lets you play — er, be productive — wherever you are. Identify habits that you’d like to pick up, set goals, take on daily challenges, and fight monsters together with your friends for a social element that’s even more motivating.
Of course, it’s not all about rewards; you can also be punished if you don’t meet your goals. If you miss out on a habit or task, you’ll lose some of your health points, and if you lose enough, you’ll backtrack on the progress you’ve made. When you’re fighting a boss, your actions affect everyone in your party, adding even more accountability.
There are special challenges that you can take on, features for improving habits in professional and interest groups, a forthcoming enterprise edition, and you can even earn gold in the game to buy rewards. Habitica includes everything you need to turn your productivity into a full-fledged role-playing game.
Epic Win ($1.99)
Another app with a classic fantasy role-playing feel, Epic Win uses many of the same principles seen in Habitica: points for completing your chores and tasks, aspirational quests, short-term to-dos and goals, and a variety of avatars that can represent you in your battle against demotivation and a lack of discipline. There are even animations so you can watch your avatar beat up your homework or headbutt walking the dog.
The ability to earn gold will be added to Epic Win in the near future, so you can even earn hard cash (well, electronic pseudo-money) for being productive. Background music and sound effects improve the RPG atmosphere, making for an even more videogame-like experience, and the app keeps track of the quests you’ve completed in the past so you can consult your done list to see how accomplished you are, or add a task back to your to-do list.
There’s an addictive sense of humour to be found in Epic Win: battle your way to the Helm of Questionable Appeal, and quest up to the Horn of Raving to equip yourself for an adventure!
One of the gamification apps that’s made a splash in the media, SuperBetter is Jane McGonigal’s app for helping make you a stronger, more resilient, more motivated person. With a number of standard goals, like losing weight, exercising more, battling anxiety or depression, sleeping better, exercising more willpower, and others, you don’t have to worry about setting up specific milestones. Everything you need is built right into the app.
Of course, you can add your own goals too, so that you’re living up to the challenges that you set for yourself as well. SuperBetter is probably best if you’re working toward one of the included goals, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it for anything that you want. Although this doesn’t have the RPG-like qualities of Habitica or Epic Win, it still provides a lot of positive feedback, which is very motivating.
Level Me Up! HD ($1.99)
If you just want to stay motivated on working on your skills and habits, and you’re less concerned about your day-to-day tasks, Level Me Up! is the way to go. Enter the skills that you’re working on, and it will keep track of the time you spend practicing them. Gain experience and level up over time to become a master of your skills!
While it doesn’t have as many features as the previous apps, the idea is still the same; seeing your progress presented in the form of experience and skills is very motivating. And because there aren’t as many features, this is an easy app to use; just enter your skills, record your practicing time, and you’re on your way!
Life Game (free)
Okay, so including this in the list is cheating a bit. It’s not actually an iPhone app—there is, however, a dedicated mobile browser app that you can use (and it works great on iPhone). It’s easiest to use the app from your computer, but accessing it on the go will help keep you motivated no matter where you are.
In Life Game, you set goals and priorities for your life, which is represented by a tree. Your objective is to make that tree grow with rain, which you get from taking actions, and sunshine, which you get from reading and viewing inspiring things. The more you work toward creating the life you want to live, the more your tree will grow!
As with SuperBetter, there are a lot of included categories that you can start with, but you can also create your own tasks and actions to complete. One of the best things about Life Game is that you can also add tasks created by other members of the community, so you don’t need to come up with a bunch of different ideas for how to make it to your goals. The interface can take a while to get used to, but the inclusion of community support makes it a pretty easy app to work with.
Go Earn Some Points!
Whether or not you think gamification is the solution to your problems, there’s no denying that it works wonders for a lot of people. By using an iPhone app to gamify your goals and aspirations, you can keep a close eye on how you’re progressing, whether it’s by leveling up, collecting rare gear, or growing a tree. We could all use a little more motivation sometimes, and these apps are a great way to do it while having fun.
Have you used gamification for your habits or to improve your life? Which apps have you used? Share your thoughts below!