After trying out a few habit tracking apps, I found my 1-week experimentation with tracking my habits on Habitica a refreshing experience as the app offers a unique combination between fun and discipline needed to build good habits.
Habitica is a hybrid app between a game and a habit tracker that is available on both Android and iOS. It aims to help you improve your habits by gamifying your habit tracking experience. While it is entirely free to use without any restrictions, users of the app can choose to pay for various power-ups in the game.
|Pros of Habitica||Cons of Habitica|
|– You can track an unlimited number of habits|
– The app can track various types of habits
– Gamified habit tracking experience
|– Difficult to check habit history|
– Gamification mechanism can take time to understand
The Habitica app is best for those who have many habits to track and want to track them for free. It is, however, not ideal for people who see easy access to habit history data as a priority to can help them make better habit-building decisions.
If you’re seriously looking at a good free habit tracking app, you may want to read on as I take a more detailed look at things that are unique to Habitica that really gave me a boost to my habit tracking efforts.
How Habitica Helped Me Build Good Habits At No Cost
Unlimited Number Of Habits That Can Be Tracked
Based on other free habit tracking apps I’ve reviewed in the past, most of them can only track up to 3 habits for free.
Yet, one of the first things I realised about Habitica was that I could seemingly create an unlimited number of habits to track.
To put this to the test, I tried creating 10 different habits on the app. To my pleasant surprise, no pop-up came up asking me to upgrade to a premium version whatsoever.
This ability to track an unlimited number of habits for free will help me greatly as this means that I can track the 8 different habits I want to build up in my life for free without excluding any of them due to an arbitrary limitation set by the app creators.
Types Of Habits That It Can Track
There are 3 types of habits that Habitica can track:
- Habits (Habits that can be quantified and reset at set intervals of time)
- Dallies (Tasks that repeat daily)
- To-dos (tasks/habits that only needs to be completed once)
Being able to track habits allows me to track habits that I want to quantify. A good example would be my desire to drink 3 bottles of water a day.
Being able to track dailies allows me to track habits that I want to quantify as yes/no. A good example might be my goal of not wanting to quit Youtube. Setting up this habit tracking goal in dailies can clearly help me to see when I succeeded with this habit and when I didn’t.
Being able to track to-dos allows me to use Habitica as more than just a habit tracking app. With this function, I could even use it to do things like grocery shopping.
Combined with the ability to track unlimited habits, this makes Habitica valuable to me in many situations.
While I couldn’t find any way to see my habit history on the app itself, I found that it is possible to see my habit history through this website.
Although the habit history that are shown are quite basic, they are still helpful enough to give me a general sense of where I’m heading towards with the habits that I want to build/break.
Every time I complete a habit, I gain a bit of experience and sometimes find some in-game items.
Likewise, every time I do not complete a habit on the app, I lose some health in my in-game avatar.
Another thing I like about Habitica’s gamification is that it allows you to create your own rewards.
I feel that all these gamification designs gently nudges me to complete my habits every day.
The Disadvantages Of Habitica As A Habit Tracker
The two points (difficult to check habit history and gamification mechanism) on the disadvantages of Habitica as a habit tracker can be summed up as – the app can be complicated to understand and use.
I think this is because Habitica is quite different from a conventional habit tracking app.
Difficult to check habit history
For quite a few days, I couldn’t find any method to see my habit tracking history on the app.
This was until I googled how to check habit history on Habitica and found out that I have to go to a separate site to get access to this data.
This is a significant disadvantage to me because a major part of habit tracking for me is also to be able to evaluate my habit history easily.
The Gamification mechanism takes time to understand
While I’ve found that the gamification of Habitica helps me to keep to my habits and understand the general concept behind it, it also confuses me because there are so many components to it.
It took me a few days to understand what I can do with the in-game items that I purchased with in-game gold that I earned every time I succeed at a habit.
Because it is not the easiest thing to understand, I would think that there are people who gave up the app before they ever learn how to maximise the app.
But I think that that would not do the app justice because I’ve found the app to be quite good in improving my habits.
That brings us to the next topic for this article – how do you play and maximise Habitica?
Learning How To Use Habitica To Build Good Habits
I had a hard time learning how to play Habitica as the app is quite unique in terms of how it tracks my habits.
Thankfully, I found a tutorial that went through the important parts of the app once I downloaded the app. The tutorial can also be replayed whenever I need to.
Habitica’s tutorial can be replayed by navigating to “About > Support > Reset Tutorials”. This is 1 of the best ways to learn and relearn how to play Habitica as the main parts of the game are explained in an easy to understand way.
Once I got the basics down from the tutorial, I realised a core concept in the gamification of Habitica:
I need to set up my habits intentionally in a way where I will be rewarded for completing a habit and punished if I do not.
There are other bells and whistles to the gamification of Habitica such as quests where I can improve my habits together with friends, but after using it for more than a week, I thought that all these extra bells and whistles can be explored at my own pace.
Items tracked in Dallies and To-Dos automatically punish me by making my in-game character weaker whenever I fail to complete them by the end of a day.
For items tracked in Habits, I found it helpful to include positive and negative controls when creating a new habit.
This lets me reward myself whenever I complete the habit and punish myself whenever I fail to complete the habit.
Another thing I learned really quickly in the game was to cheat, all I need to do is create a habit and keep tapping on the “plus” icon. In this way, my character would level up really quickly.
Having learned how to cheat, I learned very quickly that there was no point in cheating as it did not accomplish my objective of improving in any of my habits in real life.
The best way to play Habitica is to play it with integrity.
How Habitica Fared As A Free Habit Tracking App
I measured how good Habitica did as a free habit tracking app based on 4 criteria that I think will be essential to any habit tracking app:
- The number of habits the app can track for free (If the app can only track 1 habit, it is unlikely to be useful to me because I want to track more than 1 habit. The more habits that the app can track, the better it is for a user.)
- Data recording capabilities of the app (It is difficult for me to improve if I cannot see where I am succeeding and failing with my habits. The more useful habit data that can be collected over time, the better it is for a user.)
- Platforms the app is available on (If I am on iOS and Mac, it would be ideal if an app I frequently use is on both platforms. Therefore, the more platforms that an app is on, the better it is for a user.)
- The versatility of the app (If I can track whether or not I woke up on time today, a yes/no habit. And I can track how many bottles of water I drank today, a number habit, then I think a habit tracking app can be considered as versatile.)
- How well the app can help to improve habits (Even if the app scores well on all other aspects, I would be unlikely to continue using it if it is designed in a way that doesn’t really help me to improve my habits.)
|The number of habits Habitica can track for free: Habitica can track an unlimited number of habits for free.|
If the app can track 1-3 habits – 10 points
If the app can track 4 or more habits – 20 points
|Data recording capabilities: Habitica can track basic habit history but doesn’t have the capability to record notes for each habit.|
If the app can view automatically recorded habit history – 10 points
If the app allows manual recording of notes for each habit – 10 points
If the app can view recorded habit history and record down notes for each habit – 20 points
|Platforms Habitica is available on: Habitica is available on 2 platforms – iOS and Android.|
If the app is available on 1-2 platforms – 10 points
If the app is available on 3 or more platforms – 20 points
|The versatility of Habitica: Habitica can track 3 different types of habits.|
Does the app allow you to track all types of habits?
If no – 10 points
If yes – 20 points
|How well does the app help improve habits (On the scale of 1 – 10): 8. In my opinion, Habitica works well at giving me in-game penalties that are not so painful that I will want to avoid it by entering false data. Yet, the penalties are strong enough to motivate me to do better in the future.|
Subjective and based on personal opinion. Take it with a pinch of salt, if the app seems good to you, try it out yourself and decide for yourself.
If 1-5 – 0 points
If 6-10 – 20 points