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Label me childish, but I’m approximately a thousand times more inclined to participate in activities that are beneficial for me when they can be gamified. Even the uncomplicated joy of watching a number increase or earning a digital milestone badge has the ability to inspire me to get to the gym, track my meals, or form a new habit. Focusing and studying can also be enhanced with gamification, and there is a wide variety of apps available for this purpose. Below are some of the finest.
Gamification apps for concentrating
Concentrating is notoriously problematic, especially in this hyper-connected era when you cannot go five minutes without receiving a text or eat a meal without watching TikTok videos. Use your device to your benefit with these apps that convert focusing into a game:
Trackabi is essentially a time-tracking software designed for work teams, but it comes with a gamification feature that enables you to gain achievements and badges. The badges you achieve not only decide if you’re a “lazybones” or “time tracking master,” but they also come with karma points. It is most effective if you are working on a team, and these karma points can be utilized for tangible rewards that you all determine, but it’s also acceptable if you’re someone who just enjoys observing their numbers increase. In contrast to certain other software, it also includes the possibility for you to earn unfavorable achievements, such as the aforementioned lazybones, which can be motivating to some. It’s free for up to five team members, but if you want to add more individuals, projects, or achievement levels, you’ll pay $3.20 per user per month or more, depending on your requirements.
One of the gold-standard apps in gamification and productivity is Habitica, which is practically like a role-play game. You specify the goal you want to achieve, track when you do it, and observe as your in-game avatar gains (or loses) health. Your avatar can even link up with others’ for games and challenges, so you all level up. You earn gold coins that can be spent in-game or “redeemed” when you do something you want to do in real life, like watch a movie. It’s free, but you can make in-app purchases or subscribe to group plans that help coordinate team goals for $9 per month, plus $3 per person.
Another app that’s excellent for teams, Toggl is a time-tracker that provides you with leaderboards in addition to achievements when you stay focused and accomplish tasks. If digital badges don’t inspire you, imagine the excitement of seeing your name at the top of a leaderboard. That’s gamification right there. If you’re using it on your own, it’s free, but after a 14-day trial, teams will pay $9 per user per month.
Do It Now
Another RPG-based productivity app is Do It Now, where you personalize a character that will level up and earn rewards as you complete your task list. One of the most entertaining aspects of gaming (and, thus, gamification) is the capability to personalize a character, so this is a reliable app if you’re into that. The character is “a virtual copy” of you that has to do all the tasks you have to do in real life. Their “skills” increase as yours do. Nearly all the features are available on the free version, but if you want to go ad-free, access more themes and sounds, and set unlimited inventory, you’ll pay about a dollar or two per month, depending on your payment plan. Please note, however, that this app only functions on Android.
Beeminder is an outstanding app because it connects to a variety of others, from Habitca and Toggle to Duolingo, Gmail, Fitbit, Strava, and more, pulling in your data to ensure you’re staying on track with your goals. If you have a goal to stay focused on Slack or emails, Beeminder can actually make sure you’re doing it instead of relying on you to be honest in self-reporting. Continue to do what you’re trying to do and a red line will appear, inching toward your goal. The catch? If you don’t stick to what you’re trying to focus on, it charges $5 to the card you have on file. Otherwise, it’s free for up to three goals, but you can unlock unlimited goals (and the ability to put off payments and set charge caps) with premium plans that move from $8 per month, $16 per month, or even $50 per month, depending on how many features you want.
Gamification apps for learning
If you need to gamify your studies, there are special apps that work well for that, too. The software above also works for learning, so if you’re more of a Habitica person, feel free to stick with those. The ones below have unique features that might be helpful for students.
Productivity Challenge Timer
This one is good for students because, well, it’s a little harsh, like a strict professor. When using Productivity Challenge Timer, you’ll be asked by the app whether you “feel good putting off work” when you don’t start a work session. When you do start a work session, it’ll track your time and create a detailed record for you, so you can visualize your productivity. And, of course, there are ranks for you to climb in-game. The free version lets you work on three tasks, but you’ll have to buy a pro version for $8.99 if you want more.
In a sense, this is the very opposite of Productivity Challenge Timer: Instead of interacting with a hardass authority figure, you’re calmly trying to plant a tree. With Forest, you start a work session, which plants a seed. A tree starts to grow, but if you switch from the app to another app, like social media, you’ll start a countdown that lets you know your tree will soon die. (Actually, maybe this isn’t quite low-stress after all.) It’s free to use, so you can collect fully-grown trees and rewards without spending money, plus you can redeem your rewards to plant a real tree through Trees for the Future. If you pay $2 for a subscription, you can designate some apps to open during sessions that won’t hurt your tree, which is helpful if you need your phone for studying.
Study Bunny is a game designed for pupils. It has an in-app timer and a scored flashcard system, slots for to-do lists, and room for 15 subjects. You are assigned a virtual bunny rabbit that gets happier when you track work and progress, but sadder when you pause a work session or don’t open the app. The longer you work, the more coins you earn to buy items for your bunny.