I Discovered a Productivity Hack

December 5th, 2019 // Status Report

Warning: it’s a long one. tl;dr: I’m using apps to improve my life.

Hi, guys! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I wanted to give you all a quick update about what I’ve been up to.

I figured out why I struggle with being productive. It’s easy to tell ourselves why we have to do something, but it’s harder for me to figure out the how. I’m pretty ambitious when it comes to projects, hence the debilitating procrastination, and staring my daunting tasks in the eye usually shies me away from accomplishing much. I figured out why this happens and how to fix it: a reward system.

You might be saying, “Well, duh! You have to give yourself incentive.”

I might not have mentioned my depression earlier, but I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depression Disorder) over the summer and the diagnosis explained why I struggled to enjoy anything and find motivation to do anything throughout the day. Now, of course, if I’m struggling to enjoy anything, how can I make any reward I give myself “worth it”? Good question – that’s what I’m still trying to figure out, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made headway with that as well.

I started playing Stardew Valley again. It’s an open-ended RPG game that allows you to have a farm, raise some animals, marry villagers, etc, and even though I struggle to keep playing, I still find a way to enjoy it, regardless of how I’m feeling because of the escapism. In fact, I went overboard after experiencing a victory in my personal life on Monday and I came home and played the game all day. Literally. When I finally pulled myself away from it, I realized I had gone overboard and played the game too much because I experienced a bit of derealization. I forgot about life outside of the game, but playing Stardew Valley obviously something I enjoy, so I noted it down for later observation.

Now, I can’t do that often (for safety reasons), but I was happy to discover something that I did enjoy and could spend a few good hours doing. So, I’m going to be on a hunt for other activities like this, and since I enjoy playing the game and it elevates my mood, I’m hoping to be in a decent enough mood for the rest of the week and find more activities that create the same feeling.

“Okay, great, but the reward system you mentioned earlier . . . ?”

Thanks for bringing that up!

I rediscovered Habitica, an app that “gamifies” your life and allows you to earn points for completing tasks. (As you can see, I like games, but only calm ones.) Habitca is super easy – you enter the tasks and habits you need to do, click them when you do them, and you earn health points and coins. The coins can later be cashed out for rewards, which you can also enter yourself and assign certain prices to them. For example, I entered a reward called “Stardew Valley Takeover”, which allows me to goof off and play Stardew Valley as long as I want, and it’s a hefty price in the app. I’ve also assigned other activities as rewards, such as shopping and buying yarn for myself, watching two hours of Netflix, and so on.

I’m aware that this whole system could appear to be a bit pitiful. Like, “Aw, she has to use apps to make herself functional.” This thought crosses my mind sometimes, but let me tell you, once I understood how Habitica’s system worked, I became excited to add in all my tasks, habits, and rewards. There’s even a to do list, so you can plan out your day, or even assign certain tasks to do in the upcoming days.

forest pic 12.5.19.png
This is what I have so far. I’ve spent part of my day knitting and working on this post. (I love that the snow and decorative trees!)

I’ve paired this app with Forest, another time management/productivity app that I use to track my time. I downloaded the Forest app when I was immensely struggling with my depression and daily productivity last year. I needed a “real” reason to get up and get things moving, so I downloaded Forest to track my time while I did certain tasks. Exiting the app would kill the tree I was growing while completing the task, which acted as an incentive to finish whatever I was doing. Forest will also “blacklist” apps on your phone, killing your tree if you left Forest to open them. This app helped me become more productive (since I was determined not to kill my cute trees) and since I’ve had it for a while, I get to look back on the week’s and month’s “forest” and see the different kinds of vegetation and tree species that I have. I have all of the trees I want now, and each tree is assigned to something. For example, whenever I start to work on a blog post, I grow a Ginkgo, things like that.

I grouped these apps with my bullet journal, a new adventure of mine, and I think between these three things, I’m going to live a more productive life. This might seem unnecessary, but this is what helps me. It also helps my mood to see my coins accumulate and my trees/flowers grow. It makes completing my self-assigned tasks and other activities more rewarding. It makes tangible (and more worthwhile) somehow. I think it’ll help me become more disciplined as well, because if you don’t do your assigned tasks, your character loses health overnight and that’s essentially what happens in real life when you let yourself down. (You could argue that if I had any discipline in the first place, I wouldn’t need these apps, but . . . 🙁 )

I can always backpedal and forget about all this stuff (the apps and bullet journal), but I like the system I’ve created for myself. We only run into a problem if I take away the value from the apps themselves – for example, if I wake up one day and tell myself Habitica is a bad idea and it’s not worth it. Then we’ll have a problem because I’ll have to figure out my reward system and points system all over again, but I’ve been debating creating a point system for myself for a good while now, and I discovered Habitica just in time for the new year.

There’s more to Habitica and Forest than what I’ve described here, but I didn’t want to bore you. Just know that it’s working and I’m loving it.

Aside from the big breakthrough I’ve had this week, nothing has really changed. I’m debating on updating more, with certain topics on certain days. I’d like to do a mental health check in post and various other topics, but as I said, I’m debating them. I know I can push through it and write about whatever I want (still working through this), but I’m struggling with the idea of coming across as narcissistic. I’d like to be more transparent with you guys about my life besides my WIPs, so I think discussing my mental health and knitting projects would be a good start. I don’t want to propose an uploading schedule and not follow it, ya know?

Anyways, more to come in the following weeks. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


One thought on “I Discovered a Productivity Hack

  1. Love you Taia ! Thank you so much for being so transparent and sharing your life with the world. Stay Blessed.

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