It’s already March and I’m sure that for a lot of us, New Year’s resolutions are already a distant thought. If you’re in need of a little help to get back on track or you just want to nurture the habits you’re already working on, here are a few of my favorite websites that help me stay on top of my nerdy habits through gamification!
GoodReads – Read More Books
I like to think of GoodReads as Netflix for books.
GoodReads.com is a website that allows you to add books you’re reading, want to read, and have read in the past. If you’re someone who is constantly writing down lists of books to read (and then promptly losing them, if you’re like me), this is a great site to keep better track of your reading. In addition to micro-managing your reading habits, you can keep tabs on your friends’ reading habits as well by connecting your GoodReads account to your social media accounts.
There are also challenges you can join, groups to participate in, and great themed book lists to choose what to read next from. Many authors have their own personal pages where you can see what books they’ve most recently published, blog posts they’ve written, and what they’re currently reading. The yearly reading challenge motivates me to keep reading so that I can meet my goal for the year.
Since I often forget every good book I’ve ever read when asked directly, I often refer to my GoodReads profile if I need to make a quick reading suggestion to a friend. Or better yet, if my friend also has an account, I use the “Recommend Book” feature on their profile to gently prod them into reading one of my favorite books!
Duolingo – Learn a Language
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a language dork. I’ve studied a handful of languages, but I’m nowhere near fluent in most of them. My one resolution this year was to study French every day, simply because I don’t want to lose the French I already know.
Duolingo.com is a language learning website that is reminiscent of language programs like Rosetta Stone (except it’s free!). You choose a language to learn and you can either start out at the very beginning with the basics or you can take a proficiency test to skip ahead. Each unit, or skill, consists of smaller lessons and the lessons increase in difficulty as you advance in the unit. For each lesson, you have three hearts. Lose them all and you have to start the lesson over! How well you do on each lesson determines how many XP you earn for each lesson completed. As you earn XP, you level up.
After you create an account, you choose what your primary language is and the language you would like to learn. So, if you choose English as your primary language and French as the language to practice, the website instructions would be in English. This function doesn’t make much difference to most people, but when I signed my mother up for the site, it was very helpful and less stressful for her to have instructions in Portuguese while practicing her English.
As with GoodReads, there’s some social capability, so you can also see how your friends are progressing in their language learning and, if you thrive on competition, use their progress to motivate you!
HabitRPG – Be More Productive
This is by far my favorite website to keep me on track and focused. It’s a productivity website that gamifies your to do list.
HabitRPG.com is easy to use for those who are familiar with RPG mechanics. To start out with, you create a very basic avatar. You’ll be able to equip your avatar later on as you complete tasks, gain XP, and earn gold. You can also raise pets, complete quests, and choose a class, all of which are capabilities that open up as you reach certain levels.
Your tasks are divided into three categories: Habits, Dailies, and To Dos. Habits are either good habits that you want to reinforce or bad habits that you want to eliminate from your life. You earn gold every time you do a good habit and lose gold for every bad habit when you slip up (negative reinforcement doesn’t work for me, so I only keep track of good habits). Dailies are daily tasks that you have to (or should) do every day, or at least on certain days of the week. If you don’t complete your dailies by the end of the day, you lose XP! To Dos are one time projects and can be broken down into smaller tasks using a checklist. You can set deadlines for each project if you wish and the longer a project languishes unfinished, the more points you’ll gain when you finally check if off your list.
The great thing about HabitRPG is that you can pick and choose which features you would like to use. For example, if you don’t care about reinforcing habits or you don’t really want to bother with collecting pets, you can simply ignore those features. When I first started, I ignored the rewards section where you could purchase equipment until I felt comfortable enough with the other components of the website.
When I’m having trouble focusing on completing a certain project, I create a new To Do item, break it down into the tiniest steps, and check each off as I go. Watching that XP bar go up does wonders for motivating a role player gamer type like me!
If you have any websites or apps that help you be a better geek, leave them in comments below! Get in touch with me through twitter @izzorizzo or at Isabela[at]gameongirl[dot]com (or at intern[at]gameongirl[dot]com for official Game On Girl business).
Isabela Oliveira is a renaissance geek, in the sense that she knows a little about a whole lot of things. She is always looking for the next great TV show to marathon and for the next exciting thing to learn and write about. In her spare time, she writes and manages social media for The Geek Embassy and works to dismantle the patriarchy in Vancouver, Washington.