Gamifying Your Life with Habitica For Fun and Profit (And Join the Insurance Nerds Adventuring Party!)

Gamification is incredibly silly. And it works. Not for everyone, but for many people it works and it works incredibly well. When I was writing Insuring Tomorrow I really struggled on whether to include a chapter on gamification, it just felt soooo out there compared to the reality of insurance today, and I am so glad I did include it because it’s one of the chapters that gets the most comments. That chapter was largely based on Jane McGonigal’s awesome book Reality is Broken. Dr. McGonigal explains her research on why games (and especially video games) are so addictive, and most importantly digs into the why and how of using those characteristics to make people more productive both at work and in doing good things for the world.

Most insurance carriers and brokers are a long-ways away from gamifying the way they engage, encourage, and manage their employees, let’s be honest, they have much bigger fish to fry (systems transformations, bridging the gap with Insurtech, dealing with the talent crisis, and many other priorities before getting around to gamification. No problem! I’m here today to tell you that you can gamify your own productivity with a free tool/game/app/gadget/webapp called Habitica!

Habitica allows you to turn your life and work into an online Role Playing Game (RPG), including all the tropes and features normally found in incredibly addictive games like Skyrim. While they do have an app, I highly recommend you do the original setup on the website, and then you can use either the website or the app to track your activity each day.

How It Works:

  1. Go to Habitica.com and sign up for a free account.
  2. Go to the Dailies section and add the things that you should do EVERY day (or on a specific day every week). Quick word of caution: Do not overdo this section because on any given day you don’t get around to getting all your Dailies done, you will lose health in the game! Don’t be overly ambitious on this one or you’ll find yourself in Bobbie’s situation where every other day I’m reminding her that she’s about to die! 😛 Personally my dailies are “Clean up all followups”, Job order followups” and “Sleep 7 hours per day”. The first two are things I need to do to keep on top at my job with Jacobson and the last one is to fight against my tendencies to sleep less than a healthy amount. I also have a few Dailies that I don’t need to do every day but that are crucial that I do once a week: “Check End Dates” is a crucial part of my job that is due on Mondays and “File Expenses” is another big deal that I need to get done every Saturday. To set Dailies that aren’t due every day click on the the three dots to the right of that Daily and click on edit, then set it to only the days you want it on.
  3. Then go to the Habits section. Add things that are important for you to do, but that are either not due on a particular day of the week, need to be done multiple times a day and/or you don’t have full control over them. The best way to explain this one is with a few examples of things I have in my Habits section:

1. Go to Habitica.com and sign up for a free account.

2. Go to the Dailies Section and add the things you should do EVERY day

Quick word of caution: Do not overdo this section because on any given day you don’t get around to getting all your Dailies done, you will lose health in the game! Don’t be overly ambitious on this one or you’ll find yourself in Bobbie’s situation where every other day I’m reminding her that she’s about to die! 😛 Personally my dailies are “Clean up all followups”, Job order followups” and “Sleep 7 hours per day”. The first two are things I need to do to keep on top at my job with Jacobson and the last one is to fight against my tendencies to sleep less than a healthy amount. I also have a few Dailies that I don’t need to do every day but that are crucial that I do once a week: “Check End Dates” is a crucial part of my job that is due on Mondays and “File Expenses” is another big deal that I need to get done every Saturday. To set Dailies that aren’t due every day click on the the three dots to the right of that Daily and click on edit, then set it to only the days you want it on.

3. Go to the Habits section:

Add things that are important for you to do, but that are either not due on a particular day of the week, need to be done multiple times a day and/or you don’t have full control over them. The best way to explain this one is with a few examples of things I have in my Habits section:

Read a Book Chapter:

Reading is important for my growth (and sanity) but it’s hard to make time for it. This way I reward myself every time I make decent progress in a book.

Call Mom:

My mom complains if I don’t call her at least weekly

Open a Temp Job Order:

My job at Jacobson is marketing our Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Temporary Services. It’s a really awesome service that almost nobody knows about. Success in my job is 100% dependent on getting my clients to come to us for temporary talent needs. When I do get a request I have to enter it into the system as a Job Order and then our incredible Talent Delivery team makes magic happen and makes me look like a rockstar. This is a perfect example of something that directly makes me successful in my job, BUT I don’t have full control over. I can’t just decide to open a job order. It’s the result of having done my job well, but it requires a client to come to me with a need. Basically, I get measured on opening job orders (and filling them) but it’s a lagging indicator, that’s why it’s not listed as a Daily. If it was a Daily my habitica character would lose health every day I didn’t manage to get a job order and sadly it’s not something that happens every day (for now!).

Open an SME Job Order

In our internal Jacobsonian (just made up that word) Temps are fairly entry level local talent billed at fairly low rates and SMEs are very high level consultant talent billed at significantly higher rates. Needless to say opening an SME job order is a lot harder than a Temp job order, so I get more Habitica rewards for opening an SME job order.

Use Waterpick

I hate flossing. My girlfriend convinced me to at least use a water pick every day. We installed one in our shower, and I kept forgetting to use it. I added it to Habitica and now I remember 99% of days! In fact I now start most days clicking “Sleep 7 Hours” and “Use Waterpick” and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It’s incredible how well gamification works!

4. Go the To-Dos section:

Add things that only need to be done once and can be crossed off once done. For me this is mostly for things without a due date, but you can set a due date if you prefer.

At the end of the day after I’ve made a bunch of calls and sent a bunch of emails getting some Habitica points might just be the only thing that gets me to jump into LinkedIn and dig into another potential client to add to our CRM so I can make contact tomorrow morning.

5. Join the Insurance Nerds Adventuring Party

Gamification is more fun (and more effective) with friends, so go to the Party tab and look for the Insurance Nerds Group. If you can’t find it message me on our Slack channel.

6. Join the Slack Channel

Click here to join the Insurance Nerds Slack and then click on the habitica-nerds channel, a much better way to chat with your fellow Insurance Nerds who use Habitica.

That’s it, you’re done with the hard part.

Now just open Habitica every day and see your character grow and evolve and be amazed at how something silly like gamification can make a big difference in your day to day productivity. I keep a Chrome permanently open to Habitica on both my work and my personal laptops. Some people prefer the mobile app. Use whatever works best for you and whatever reminds you to check in every day. BTW: One of the genius features in Habitica is that nobody else sees your specific tasks, your privacy is fully protected, even your party members only see the growth of your character, not how or what you’re doing to get there.

About Antonio Canas

Tony started in insurance in 2009 and immediately became a designation addict and shortly thereafter a proud insurance nerd. He has worked in claims, underwriting, finance and sales management, at 4 carriers, 6 cities and 5 states. Tony is passionate about insurance, technology and especially helping the insurance industry figure out how to retain and engage the younger generation of insurance professionals. Tony is a co-founder of InsNerds.com and a passionate speaker.

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