Top productivity apps

The 10 Best Productivity Apps that use Gamification in 2018

This post was recently updated to reflect the 10 best productivity apps that use Gamification for 2018

Click here to view our full list of Gamification examples.

We all strive to be more productive: to have more energy, to accomplish more in a day, to hit our goals, to be the best possible versions of ourselves that we can be. But of course, we all face challenges that keep us from achieving our peak selves: we watch TV, we watch Youtube, we sleep in, we do everything possible to avoid the work that we need to be doing.

If life is a game, then we can hack our lives using Gamification to motivate, drive, or trick ourselves into being more productive.

The following are the 10 best productivity apps that use Gamification to improve your productivity, health, and financial habits.

The 10 best productivity apps that utilize Gamification

10. Todoist Karma – gamified productivity app that uses Karma as a measure of progress

How it works: First in our list at #10 is Todoist Karma, a simple, easy to use task manager that utilizes a point system to rank a player and get them motivated to complete objectives. When tasks are completed, the player gets Karma. When tasks are postponed for later, the player loses Karma.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Todoist Karma does a great job at showing a player their progress over time. They have great charts and analytics that show a detailed view of how productive a player is. Players are motivated to complete tasks to earn Karma and improve their charts.
  • Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance: Players hate losing things that they’ve earned. The threat of losing Karma for postponing or failing on tasks drives a player to complete objectives so that they can retain their status.

9. Smarty Pig – gamified productivity app for finance

How it works: Smarty Pig is a personal finance app that helps you achieve your purchasing goals. Let’s say you want to buy a new refrigerator. Well, with Smarty Pig, you set the refrigerator as a savings goal and then automatically deposit money from your bank account to your Refrigerator account. You’ll slowly fill your progress bar (savings account) until you’re 100% complete and you can buy that refrigerator guilt free.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Smarty Pig uses CD2 very well in two ways: 1) it makes the savings process incredibly easy. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it approach that makes you feel smart and financially savvy; 2) instead of a meaningless progress bar, Smarty Pig replaces it with progress that leads to a real world purchase. When you hit your objective, you not only feel good, but you have something to show for it.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: Smarty Pig let’s you name your financial goals, giving you the creative freedom to save for whatever you’d like.
  • Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession: As you rack up the dollars in your savings account, you’ll feel greater ownership of your accounts and pride in your ability to save money. Furthermore, Smarty Pig does a great job at encouraging you to spend your money once you’ve achieved your savings goals.

8. Fitocracy – gamified productivity app for fitness

How it works: Many people want to work out, but they have to battle against sleeping in, eating chips, watching Netflix on the couch, or late nights at the office. It can be incredibly difficult to get motivated and head to the gym. Fitocracy aims to drive people to live a healthier life by gamifying fitness and nutrition. They turn working out into an RPG (role playing game), where you earn experience and level up the more you work out and eat healthy.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Fitocracy gives the player the feeling of progress and improvements through earning experience, leveling up, achievements, and quests. It’s their way of turning fitness into a game.
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: Fitocracy excels at helping players find small online fitness groups that encourage each other to work out and eat healthy. By being the platform where groups communicate and encourage each other, Fitocracy taps into the Right-Brain Core Drives of its players, driving them to workout for intrinsic reasons (for example, because they don’t want to let their team down).

7. Bounty Tasker – gamified productivity app for to-do lists

How it works: Bounty Tasker takes the concept of a real life RPG to the next level. At its core, Bounty Tasker is a to-do list, but what really sets it apart is its Gamification elements. As a player, you get to choose and customize your character and assign yourself tasks that give you experience upon completion. As you gain in experience, you level up and earn items to outfit your character.

Why it works:

6. Challenge Timer – gamified productivity app for the Pomodoro Method

How it works: Challenge Timer uses the Pomodoro method to break large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. Unlike most Pomodoro timers, Challenge Timer lacks a pause button, forcing you to finish your task during the given time period.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: like most productivity apps, Challenge Timer uses CD2 to drive users to complete tasks and objectives. When you complete a task, it gets marked off as “achieved”, making the user feel good about their work.
  • Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience: the lack of a pause button creates a limited, forced window for you to complete your task. By limiting your ability to get distracted, Challenge Timer forces you to stay focused.
  • Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance: if you get distracted or need to stop your task, then you have to click on the “Forfeit Work Session” button–admitting defeat. Players don’t like to lose or get defeated, so this drives them to stay focused and complete the task.

5. Beeminder – gamified productivity app that puts your money on the line

How it works: At it’s core, Beeminder is quite straightforward:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Did you complete your goal?
    • Yes: great, keep it up!
    • No: we take your money

What!?!?!… yup, that’s right, if you don’t hit the daily or weekly goals that you set with Beeminder, then they take $5 from your credit card (it’s their business model). Sound extreme? Maybe, but it’s quite effective for people that only get motivated when they’re about to lose something.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Beeminder uses a “yellow brick road” to keep you on track. Everyday it asks you if you accomplished your goal and to quantify it (quantification is key). If you’re on track, then you stick on the yellow brick road. If you get off track, then you have 24 hours to get back on track or else Beeminder charges you $5.
  • Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance: CD8 is a big part of Beeminder. If you get off track and don’t hit your objectives, then you get charged $5. For some players, they need skin in the game and the thought of losing something to get them motivated to take action.

4. Epic Win – gamified productivity app for those that want to level up their life

How it works: Epic Win takes the concept of a real life RPG and makes it super fun with great artwork, fun animations, and a system that truly feels like a game you would pay for on the app store. The character designs are imaginative, fun, and quite customizable for a productivity app.

Why it works:

3. SuperBetter – the gamified productivity app for recovery and wellness

How it works: SuperBetter was designed by Jane McGonigal to help players live a healthier, more fulfilling life. To accomplish this goal, SuperBetter is a game where players design their “epic win” and go on quests to accomplish objectives. Players design their quests, team up with allies, identify “bad guys” or actions that are counterproductive, and create power ups throughout their journey in real life.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: SuperBetter utilizes player stats to motivate players to take action and accomplish their goals. Players can create their own quests to move towards accomplishing their epic win.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: Players use their creativity to craft the quests that will accomplish their Epic Win.
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: CD5 is where SuperBetter really shines. Not only can you add friends as Allies in the game, but Allies can add Quests to your Quest Board. In the video above, Jane’s friend knows that she is trying to recover from a concussion. He creates a Quest on her board to walk together on the Embarcadero, knowing that this will help her recover from her concussion.

2. Forest App – the beautiful gamified productivity app that helps save the world

How it works: When it’s time to focus, open the Forest app and plant a seed, signifying that it’s time to focus. If you stay focused on your task, then the seed will grow into a might tree! However, if you leave the app to check on something like Facebook, then your little seedling will whither away.

Why this works: Forest app is an amazing app because it utilizes many core drives to Gamify your life:

1.  Habitica (HabitRPG) – the gamified productivity app that turns life into a game

How it works: Similar to other real life RPGs listed above, Habitica aims to gamify your life. Habitica has earned the #1 spot on our list because it boasts over 2,000,000 users and is a completely open source project. In Habitica, players create their character, create their Guilds where they team up with other players, and take on quests and defeat monsters to accomplish their objectives.

Why it works:

Did we miss any Gamified Productivity Apps that should be on our list?

Let us know if you have created a gamified productivity app or use one that you believe should be on our list and we’ll review it. If it blows us out of the water, then it could make our top 10 list!

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Published by

Jun Loayza

Just trying to be the best Papa to my little Juniper and the best husband to my soulmate — Kim.

40 thoughts on “The 10 Best Productivity Apps that use Gamification in 2018”

  1. I have the sense that if I put together an honest and complete “to do” list for these apps, e.g. Habitica, then I would be the “greatest loser” since it would be so impossible to get everything done and there would be so many things penalizing my score. Demoralizing! I guess I could be proud of becoming the “greatest loser!” 😉

  2. Great stuff! I’ve just installed EpicWin to see how it goes. I am a personal fan of Wunderlist. It’s well designed and very efficient. Lacks of gamification logic though.

  3. Thanks for the sharing and most of them are very inspiring. I have tried SuperBetter and heard so much of Fitrocracy in other gamification course. Would love try out Fitrocracy…one day…maybe need to add a bit of black hat technique to it.

  4. Looking forward to giving these a try – I am also hoping I will get points from posting a comment 🙂 didn’t work last time as I wasn’t logged in after leaving the page 🙁

  5. I am currently using Habitica (formerly HabitRPG). I can see how apps like this can help people who like games become more productive. In addition, I am finding that I am exploring other areas of interest that I might not have set aside time for through the use of the challenges.

    1. Hey Dawn! I am trying out Habitica too! Curious how you feel about using it? I’m getting a mixed reaction to it – but it’s been an interesting period using it to observe my own actions (or lack of actions!). 🙂

  6. Which combination of apps listed is the best to use? It looks like some apps overlap with others… or should we use all of them too get the best use out of them?

    Also, I purchased your Gamification book and was wondering when a LIFESTYLE gamification book is coming? I would like more help around that as I’ve already read your blog posts about it.

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  8. Tas Hammer and EpicWin have been shown to add very little to people’s motivation in the study by Dennis Kappen (Deconstructing ‘Gamified’ Task-Management Applications). I wonder what the worth of these are and whether there are any more studies. There’s a lot of hype around that and it’s easy to get carried away by user comments saying it changed their lives. Maybe that’s true for a portion of users but what is the reality of it in the long run and for most people?

  9. indeed @Danny

    Mind bloom teach some very useful concepts about gamification!

    Thanks Yu-kai, excellent review!

    Can I suggest for a future post “Top ten Gamified Game Studio Sites”? I am intrigued on how people that actually makes games consider give some fun to their own page

    Stay Awesome!

  10. I wondered that so many tools utilize gaming concepts. Seems ‘games’ are everywhere. Maybe it is a time to re-label ‘gamification’ with ‘life-ication’ since gaming is a very natural to human beings.

    You-kai thanks for analysis.

  11. The pretty popular category of “brain training” apps also heavily rely on gamification. Although the benefits of such apps are questioned by critics they are pretty addictive. Just have a look at brainwars, elevate or lumosity to name a few. Many of the 8 core drives from the octalysis framework can be found there in one way or the other.

You must engage in the conversation!!