One thing that is difficult for many autistic people, including me, is executive function. If you don’t know what that is, check out this post by another autistic person. I have an extremely difficult time managing my life and doing basic things like feeding myself and remembering to do important chores. My executive functioning skills are even worse than usual when I have migraines, which is a lot of the time. Using the app Habitica really helps me so I am going to give you some tips for using it optimally in case you are interested.
Here is a random Habitica screenshot I pulled off the Internet.
Habitica is a tool that turns your life into a role-playing game. It can be accessed at https://www.habitica.com and there is also a mobile version for both iOS and Android. I have the phone app but I also use the website on my laptop. The basic idea is that you create a character and earn XP and gold for doing things you need to do. There are three sections to the “tasks” section of Habitica: Habits, Dailies, To-dos, and Rewards. I’ll start by explaining habits.
Habits are at the far left of the screen. It is easy to see them in the web version. If you are using the mobile version, you can only see one section at a time and may need to swipe left to get to the “Habits” section. To add a habit on the web version of Habitica, type in the bar under “Habits” and click the plus sign. On the mobile version, there should be a plus sign that you can access no matter which screen you are on. If you can’t see it, try scrolling up and down a bit until it appears. When you tap the plus sign, you have the options of “New habit”, “New daily”, “New to-do” or “New Reward”. You can click on whichever one of those you want to create and then type it in. Habits will have a plus and minus. The idea is that if you do the good habit you click on the plus sign and if it’s a bad habit you click on the minus sign. However, I usually disable the negative habits because of anxiety about being “bad” and strong tendencies toward self harm. If you have similar issues, especially if you are a survivor of emotional abuse, you may want to try disabling negative habits. This can be done by clicking on the “edit” icon of the habit, which looks like a little pencil, in the web app and then finding the plus and minus symbols and clicking on the minus symbol to deactivate. In the mobile app, click on the habit (but NOT the plus or minus sign, click on the text area of the “habit” box) and that will take you to the editing screen. Note: habits start out yellow when first created, but turn green and then blue if you do them a lot, or orange and then red if you don’t or if you get the negatives. Dailies do the same thing. However, habits turn back to yellow every day if you disable negatives or disable positives, so if you do this, don’t be alarmed if your habit won’t turn green. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. A lot of my habits are self care stuff. I have one for “eat a piece of fruit”, “eat vegetables”, “drink water”, and “exercise”. I also have “write” and “work on knitting” as habits because it is good for my brain if I engage in a variety of activities and do productive things. I also have things I want to do every day that other people might have on “dailies”. The problem for me is, Habitica has an option to “rest in the inn” which stops you from taking damage for missed dailies. I used to rest in the inn every time I had a migraine and I would just not use Habitica and I didn’t even start again when the migraine was over. I had to radically change the way I used Habitica in order to be able to use it even during a migraine. So now my only “dailies” are basic self care stuff like eating every meal and doing important chores like cleaning the cat litter box, and I have things like “Spanish lesson” (I use Duolingo) and “coding lesson” (Codeacademy) under Habits. Not Dailies. Anyway, I’m just trying to give you ideas for what sort of thing to put under “Habits”. It can be anything; the app is very flexible.
To the right of the “Habits” tab is the “Dailies” tab. Adding a daily is similar to adding a habit, only there is no positive/negative feature. In the “edit” function, you can edit a daily to repeat every day (most of my dailies are like this) or only on certain days of the week (a feature I just discovered). For instance, if you want a daily to only repeat once a week, say every Tuesday for instance, click on the “edit” pencil button on the web version or the text part (not the checkmark) to edit on the mobile version. Then on the section where it says “repeat every . . .” it will have by default all seven days of the week. If you want to only have to do the daily on Tuesdays, click on every day of the week EXCEPT Tuesday to deactivate them. It also works if you want to do something twice a week, three times a week, or every day but have one day a week off, or weekends off.
There is a box to the left of the text on each daily. Click on it once you have done the thing and the box will have a check mark and the daily will turn gray. If you do it consistently every day, the color of the box will go from yellow to green and then blue, or if you don’t do it, I suppose to orange and then red. If you do not do a daily by midnight, you will lose a small amount of health. Checking off a daily grants XP, a small amount of gold, and often, a random item such as an egg, hatching potion, or food. An egg can be hatched into a particular color of pet with that color of hatching potion, and food is fed to a pet to turn it into a mount your game avatar can ride. Gold can be used to buy better equipment for your avatar, a health potion to restore lost health from missing dailies, or a custom reward you can set under “Rewards”. If you are doing a quest, the monster in the quest will inflict additional damage for missed dailies and if you are in a multiplayer party, it will also inflict damage on the other members of the party. When you are first getting started with adding your dailies, the most recently added one will be on the top of the list. You can move them by dragging, which is easiest in the web version of the app. I like to have my dailies in order of the time of day I do them. Tip: I have trouble remembering to check off the dailies I do right before bed. So I changed the evening ones to stuff like, for instance, “brushed teeth last night”. Then I check it off the next morning. Also, make sure Habitica has the right time zone for you. Otherwise, there is no telling when your dailies reset, and if their “midnight” is the middle of the day for you, then you could be taking damage for stuff you were going to do before the day is over.
To-dos are brilliant for keeping track of projects and other one-time things that need doing, such as changing out the batteries in an appliance or some other chore that doesn’t need to be done very often. I put anything I intend to do that I don’t want to forget about under “to-dos”. To-dos can be set to have a due date, or not.
Habits, dailies, and to-dos all can be set in the “edit” thing to “easy”, “medium” or “hard”. If you don’t edit it will default to “easy”. The harder a task is, the more rewards you will get for doing it, but the more damage you will take for not doing it. Damage only applies to dailies and to-dos with a due date. Also, to-dos will turn orange and then red the longer you do not check them off, and the longer you go without doing them, the more reward you will get for finally checking them off. They get set to a harder setting automatically if you go a long time without doing them.
There is a new feature I just discovered which is amazingly helpful. You can make dailies and to-dos into checklists. Do this by going to “edit” on your daily or to-do, and clicking “add checklist”. Hit enter to add another item to the list. The checklist feature is great for multi-step things. Don’t be afraid to break a simple task into steps if it helps you. You can check off the individual check boxes and when they are all checked off, check off the thing itself. You will get more rewards for a checklist task than a task that only has one step. Today on my Habitica, I have added a to-do for trying to go for a walk three times a week and turning in three reading logs a week for my library’s summer reading program. For both of those I have set the due date for next Sunday. When I have to do laundry, I put it in to-dos in three steps: wash laundry, move laundry to dryer and hang up any items of clothing that have to hang to dry, and lastly put away dry laundry. Before I discovered the checklist feature I made it be three separate to-dos, but having them organized helps me focus better. I cannot recommend the checklist feature enough.
There are also rewards. Some things are in the rewards tab by default, like game armor, weapons, and potions. I think when you first start out there are some default rewards like “10 minute break” and “watch an episode of Game of Thrones”. I deleted those because they aren’t relevant to me. Feel free to do the same. You can also add your own rewards, which can be anything, and you can set the price to any amount of game gold coins. Most of my rewards are buying stuff, and I am trying to do this to save a bit of money, by only spending money if I have earned enough Habitica gold to get the item. It is difficult for me to do this consistently though.
You can join guilds for a wide variety of interests in Habitica. There is one called the Autistic Adventurers Guild I believe. Guilds often have challenges you can do, so if one is relevant to you check it out!
You can form or join a party for group questing, but don’t be afraid to do quests on your own. It just takes a lot longer to complete the quest if you are doing it by yourself. Quests usually involve either fighting a monster or collecting a certain number of items. You deal damage to the monster by checking off dailies, and that is also how you collect items for a quest. You can go to Social>Party to check your quest progress. To quest on your own you will still need to create a party, but it can be an empty party with just you. There are usually skills, depending on your class, which can deal more damage to a boss or do other things. I am a Mage and I like to cast Burst of Flames on tasks which I need extra motivation to do. Completing a task I have cast Burst of Flames on deals more damage to the boss. But, I have no idea if other classes have any similar skills or not. Please do not be overly concerned with what the quest is called. If the quest is called “Dish Disaster” or “The Laundromancer”, it does not matter if you are not able to do dishes or laundry, or whatever is implied. No matter what the quest is, you just have to do whatever your dailies and other tasks are, and there is no need to use Habitica to pressure yourself into doing things you are unable to do. I had one friend be confused about this so I am clarifying.
Some things, like extra quest scrolls and some skin and hair options for your avatar, can only be bought with gems. It is hard to get gems. Theoretically some guilds have gems they award to winners of challenges, but I have never got gems from challenges. You can buy gems or pay a monthly fee to upgrade to the paid version of Habitica, in which case you can use gold to buy gems. On the mobile app on my Android phone, I was able to use some of my Google Play gift card money (which I saved up from doing surveys on an app called Google Opinion Rewards) to buy gems. If you code, it is also possible I believe to earn gems by helping to code for Habitica.
You can add emojis to your tasks. I find this fun and also helpful to me where processing information is concerned. There are a lot of emoji codes, most of which are supported by Habitica, on this emoji cheat sheet. I am not able to find emojis for every task, because some of my tasks are a bit unusual, but a lot of my tasks are enhanced this way. I use a cat emoji and the poop emoji for cleaning the cat litter box, and I use a hamburger emoji and a pill emoji for remembering to take my medication with food (it has to be taken with food to be properly absorbed). So you can have fun with this, or skip it if it would be distracting.
I hope my advice helped, but if you need more info, try this Habitica intro guide.