If you’ve known me for any length of time, you might be aware of how big a fan I am of making lists. Lists are pretty much the only way I manage to get anything done. That’s partly because I am so very easily distracted (SQUIRREL!) and partly because I try to do too many things at once, yet am not always that great at multitasking. As a result, some days I manage to work on anywhere from two or three to a dozen things, but don’t actually finish or make significant progress on any of them. How much do I love lists? Well, I’ve been known to finish a task and then write it down on my list after the fact just so I can check it off. Maybe a little obsessive, but yeah, pretty much a fan of lists.
Making a list doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually do any of the things you’ve written down, of course. A little accountability is called for, sometimes. That’s why sometimes I mention on this blog the goals I’ve set for myself—even if no one reads them, I’ve put them out in the world somewhere.
Better still, though, if you’ve got people who can say “hey, why didn’t you do that thing you said you were going to do?” Even better, though, is someone saying “we took 1.7 damage in the Vice Awakens challenge because of you; what did you forget to check off your list yesterday?”
Here, I’ll explain.
I was introduced to a website/app called HabitRPG by my friend and fellow writer ’Nathan. (He also played D&D back in the day; still does, I think—and no, I don’t think I’m giving away anything by mentioning that.) Anyway, it combines list-making and accountability with a bit of role-playing game character building and point scoring. I keep track of things I should be doing every day (like writing, for example), habits I should either be encouraging or discouraging (like playing games on my iPod and tablet), and larger, long-term, multi-part projects that tend to linger on my to-do list (that sequel to The Unwanted, for instance, or the short story I’ve been trying to finish for the past eight months). You score points for checking things off your list, and are rewarded with weapons and armor to deck out your account profile’s avatar. (That’s my level 47 rogue-class avatar up there on the right, riding a black wolf with my trusty pet spider as a sidekick—well, I didn’t say any of it made sense.)
Perhaps it all seems a bit silly, but I’m a big proponent of pragmatism: Whatever works, works. I’ve used it to set deadlines for fellowship and residency applications, magazine submission deadlines, and to monitor progress on freelance editing and design assignments. I’ve also used it to persuade myself to eat more sensible breakfasts and keep working out every day. You can use Habit for free, too, which is a bonus for me.
And if I can score extra gold points for critical hits on tasks and hatch pet dragons while I’m at it—hey, whatever works. (If you join the site, let me know.)