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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Google Keep and HabitRPG: Two fun ways to stay productive!

Welcome back! It has been a while. I have been busy, as I'm sure you have been. I am currently enjoying some time off work and school and, in an effort to make the most of my time, I've been casually looking into different systems to help plan tasks, track them, and increase my productivity.

Now, there are countless systems out there to help you be more productive. Hundreds of books, websites, and with the advent of wearable smartware, you can even track your progress on the go! I am by no means an expert, I'm not even a studied amateur, I'm just someone who likes to get a lot done and I've recently found two systems which I have enjoyed using that I'd like to share with you!

Google Keep

Google Keep is an app available to anyone with a Google account and is essentially online sticky notes. While visiting a friend at his workplace, he showed me Google Keep. He and his coworkers had been using it to pass notes, updates, and urgent messages to each other.

It's a very simple app/website to use; you can create new notes, add to existing, move them around, and sort them by colour. You can share notes with other people, add checklists, and when you're done, you can delete or archive your notes. Special note: The toolbar at the top of the screenshot above is an extension which I found on the Google Play store and allows me sort notes by colour, it works fairly well except that yellow and blank appear to fall in the same category.

I have found that almost everyone has a difficult time getting things done. People procrastinate, or become overwhelmed with everything that must be done, and they end up not starting and not accomplishing anything. A friend of mine had this issue. He has had a lot of recent life changes and there were so many things to do that he was living moment to moment, day to day at most. He told me about his stress and his anxiety over not getting things done. He then added that when he does have time, he doesn't feel motivated to do anything.

So, after he showed me Google Keep, I proposed an idea to help him. Every week, we would Skype, make a list of tasks to complete, and check the status of last week's tasks. It was a great system and was a lot of fun! We would talk about our week, share our difficulties and successes, provide external accountability, and also check each other's proposed tasks to make sure they could be reasonably accomplished.

Within a couple of weeks, I noticed the system working really well for both of us. For him, he was able to prioritize his tasks and make a strategy for the week. He was getting more done, and it was easier for him to do more. He felt better about the now, and his future looked more manageable. For me, I was able to brainstorm more activities, and create positive habits. Listing the tasks I wanted to complete helped me understand what I wanted to get done, and helped me get a lot of little projects done quickly and easily. In terms of habits, I had been working for some time to make exercise a daily part of my life, but student life always seemed to break that habit. Google Keep allowed me to work on creating the habit first, not worrying about the intensity of the exercise, and having the extra accountability of having to report my progress at the end of the week kept me motivated to build that habit.


Speaking of habits, the next system I heard about was HabitRPG. Promoted as "gamifying your life", HabitRPG is an app and website that turns your list of tasks and habits into a game. As you can see from the screenshot below, your tasks are divided between Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos. 

When you begin, you create a little avatar, a little depiction of yourself, and your character has health and experience. You gain experience by doing tasks, and you lose health by failing to complete them, or by committing bad habits. The difficulty of your tasks, when you complete them, and what category they belong to can be set in the advanced options and, as you level up, you can earn rewards. There are plenty of in-game rewards including that nice new axe my character is holding in the top left, but you can also set custom rewards. Many people become distracted by visiting different websites and watching too many Youtube videos or TV shows, so here you could set those as rewards that you can only enjoy when you have enough gold (earned by completing tasks) to purchase them. 

There is an incredibly extensive online community who are able to make parties (groups of people wanting to share the responsibility of doing tasks) and guilds (group of people with similar interests). These groups can create challenges to be shared among groups big and small and are a great way to add external accountability to your tasks as well as trying new things. There are challenges to write something everyday, recycle in your local neighbourhood, watch 100 different kinds of movies in a year, you name it, and if the challenge doesn't exist, you can make your own!

As you fill up that experience bar, you level up, gaining access to new rewards and quests which push you to try new things and get more done! 

My friend and I, having had success with Google Keep, have switched over to HabitRPG for the time being. We cannot see each other's tasks anymore, but we both feel good about our progress and productivity levels right now. I think we'll try it for a couple of weeks and see if we need to switch back to Google to keep us both on track. (See what I did there?)

These are just two of the many tools that are available to help get things done. Ultimately, it is up to you to find the system that works for you. This requires experimentation and reflection, testing different systems in order to determine your preferences and weak points. For my friend, he was overwhelmed and couldn't see order in the chaos, which meant he didn't know where to begin. For me, I needed a system which allowed me to be creative and explore different tasks, as well as building small habits, making them stronger, and slowly intensifying. Google Keep and HabitRPG are easy to use, and the latter seems to be a lot of fun for those who want to live their life like a role-playing adventure!

What about you? What systems would you recommend? How do you prioritize to get things done? What's holding you back?

If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear it, otherwise, thanks for reading, and good luck staying productive! 

1 comment:

  1. Anon recommends this: