Tis the season for stress and panicking. If your school is anything like mine then you're knee-deep in finals at the moment. And if you're anything like me you'd rather be playing Pocket Camp or Pokemon Go than working. (Yes, Pokemon Go still exists. Yes, I'm still invested.)
Why not have the best of both worlds though? Why not play and be productive? As an early holiday gift I present my three favorite websites for getting shit done and having fun while doing it.
Okay, this website isn't a game, but you do get adorable badges for completing certain goals. The concept is simple: write 750 words every day, the equivalent of about three pages, no matter what. The author of the site takes the idea of morning pages from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and adapts them to our technologic age. 750 Words provides a safe, private space for you to sketch out whatever it is you're working on, be it a novel, school paper, or just answering important emails. Benefits include daily emails reminding you to get your word count in, metadata on your writing (such as trends in genre or the frequency of specific words used), monthly challenges, search/export capabilities, and the ability to schedule time off. And, as said, if you reach 750 words for a certain number of days in a row you get various bird-themed badges. I'm still trying to gain that elusive Phoenix...
The only real downside is that the site does cost money now. I joined before June 2013-----back when it was free-----but now the site requires a $5 monthly subscription after a 30-day free trial. Still, it could be worse. If you've got the cash forego a Starbucks trip once a month and try this out instead.
I'm so very glad I was introduced to Habitica (in a folklore class, of all things). It's an RPG for responsibilities: simply write out what it is you want to get done, check it off when you've finished, and reward your avatar with money, potions, armor, and eggs that hatching into weird (but adorable) pets. Don't complete your tasks and your avatar's health will take a serious hit. Don't complete your work when you and your party are co-fighting a monster and... oh boy.
The best thing about Habitica isn't just how it guilts you into being productive, or how great its reward system is----though I'll tell you, you'll absolutely finish that essay if it means you'll be able to buy that new sword-----but rather, it's how the site allows you to divide up tasks into three distinct categories; Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos. Dailies are, as you'd imagine, things you need to complete every day (think reviewing a language), To-Dos are bigger projects that can just sit until you've finished them (like a paper), and habits are things you're working to get better at (like flossing!) It's a great way of dividing up work, be it for school or real life, and only dailies can harm your avatar's health. You can also (for those of us who are cheaters) go 'sleep' in the inn. You'll still receive rewards when things get done, but there isn't the looming threat of 'dying' (getting knocked down a level) if you can't keep up with everything you've assigned yourself.
My new favorite at the moment, and the tool I'm using to write this very blog post.
As you can see, you get to choose an adorable little avatar (currently there are three available, including a special NaNoWriMo one) and that egg there is the evil monster that you're trying to defeat. You give yourself a word count (line one) and you're given a little over a minute and a half (line two) to keep up the writing pace. Continue to type and your health stays up at 100, but fall behind and you risk the monster hatching and knocking you out.
Yes, you can pause the game, but this is perfect for getting first drafts written: something quick and messy where you're worried more about having something to edit than the actual editing itself. As the name implies, you're fighting against writer's block itself. It also helps that you get the same amount of experience for your avatar as the number of words you've written. As of yet I don't think there's anything to do with that experience, but it's still fun. Just the fact that I can say my Red is currently level 66 feels like some kind of accomplishment…
There’s plenty of other tools out there, so I encourage anyone who likes these concepts to go have a look around. But if you’re struggling with work and time management as the semester comes to a close, consider checking these out first!
750 Words screenshots
Fighter's Block! screenshots