5 apps to gamify your personal and work lives

Being productive can be a challenge some days, but these five apps are designed to turn your to-do lists, habits and chores into a role-playing game.

gamification apps intro
Credit: Thinkstock
Gamify your personal and work lives

If you're struggling with motivation or productivity at work, the answer might lie in gamification. Gamification turns your boring to-do list, mundane chores or healthy habits into a role-playing (RPG) game where you can earn points, collect badges and level up. If you've ever used a fitness tracker, it's the same concept -- you can earn badges and rewards for your workouts and healthy lifestyle goals to help you stay motivated.

PokemonGo, designed as an augmented reality game, even managed to gamify walking for a lot of players, with researchers at Stanford and Microsoft suggesting it helped significantly increase physical activity for users. Gamifying your life might be the answer to staying motivated, productive and to develop new habits; these five apps will help you make your everyday to-do list fun again.

habitica
Credit: Habitica

Habitica uses the basic principles of an RPG game to help you "motivate yourself to do anything." When you complete a task, you can earn gold that can be used to spend on virtual rewards like armor and equipment, or even real-life rewards, like watching an extra hour of television that day. Tasks, goals and habits can all be categorized differently, and you can use the app to track new habits you want to develop. They also include narratives, transforming things as boring as doing your dishes into a quest to clear a polluted lake of dirty dishes.

To keep you accountable, if you don't complete a task or if you miss a goal, your health and stats will take a hit, making it a great way to keep on top of your work schedule and track your productivity. If you find Habitica helps you stay on track at work, and you think your department might benefit from gamification, there are even corporate plans for organizations. You can download Habitica in the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android, it's free to join but there are in-app purchases.

epic win
Credit: Rexbox & SuperMono

Epic Win is another RPG, quest-like, gamified productivity app that wants to make your to-do list, work day and chores more fun. You can manage a variety of categories like repeating tasks, reminders for overdue events and you can even set loftier "aspirational quests" that are goals you want to complete in the future. Each time you complete a task, your avatar gets to go into battle, where it gets to crush things like your monthly reports, laundry or workouts. Different tasks also boost different skills - for example, doing laundry will increase your stamina points.

If you love classic RPG games, 8-bit graphics and friendly competition, Epic Win can bring all of those elements right into your work day. Epic Win is available for $1.99 on iOS and it's free for Android, but includes ads within the app.

[ Related story: How to use gamification to improve employee engagement ]

liferpg
Credit: Jayvant Javier Pujara

Unlike Habitica and Epic Win, LifeRPG doesn't feature the same cartoon design elements, opting for a sleeker, more professional looking user interface. However, you still earn the same type of points and rewards, but in the form of experience points or gaining skills like health or strength. You can set a "parent mission," and within each mission, you can adjust different attributes like difficulty, urgency and how stressed or fearful you are of completing that task. The app will use that information, along with your self-reported energy levels, to help you sort missions by priority. If you're having a low-energy day, it will suggest lighter, simpler tasks, but if you're in top-shape, it might prompt you to tackle a more stressful or difficult project.

It's a great choice for anyone who wants to use a gamified productivity app for work, because you can keep notes and ideas within each mission and even break down a project into sub-missions. You can set your own reward system, dictating how you win or lose points and what rewards you will win for completing missions. LifePRG is available for free on Android in the Google Play store, but it does include in-app purchases. Apple users are out of luck, however, since this app hasn't made its way to the iOS yet.

task hammer
Credit: MDJ Software

Task Hammer follows the fantasy quest model of others on this list, but features more realistic avatars that are free of the cartoony video game design you'll find in apps like Habitica and Epic Win. It's a straight forward, no frills gamified productivity app that motivates you through either daily routines or "epic quests." You can choose different paths in the game, like barbarian, rogue or sorceress, and earning points helps you level up your charter. Tasks can be assigned different attributes and levels of importance; users can also include notes about the task as well as set repeating due dates.

It's a great choice if you don't want to get bogged down in features, but appreciate the fantasy narrative of an RPG game. Task Hammer is currently only available for Android users -- it can be downloaded for free in the Google Play store.

[ Related story: What awareness gamification programs can learn from Pokemon Go ]

superbetter
Credit: SuperBetter, LLC

SuperBetter also follow the RPG theme, but with a more sophisticated user interface than the fantasy RPG apps on this list and more like LifeRPG. The app is designed to help you get "super better" at different skills, tasks, productivity or even to "get better" at overcoming setbacks or recovering from long-term illness or injury. Instead of an avatar, the points represent your personal health, strength and resiliency, making it a more personalized experience. At work, it can help you manage not only your daily tasks, but even your mood or habits you want to develop. You can select from different "power ups" that might be as simple as "chug a glass of water," or "take a small leap." There are also "Power Packs," that give you different strategies and steps to try to manage things like low motivation, anxiety or insomnia.

SuperBetter is a great option if you not only want to hammer out your to-do list on a regular basis, but develop new habits and skills that will benefit you at work and in your personal life. The app is available for free in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play store.