12 Apps Using Gamification to Boost Habits & Productivity

Published by Brendan Ho

As someone obsessed with personal development and growth, I’m always looking for new ways and techniques to create and maintain positive habits.

Over the last decade, there have been a myriad of apps and tools helping users to improve their habits and personal wellbeing by using elements of gamification.

Gamification is the process of integrating game design elements into non-game environments. The benefits of leveraging gamification into your app are significant: it can help with app engagement, user motivation, and retainment.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some real-life applications using gamification to help users boost their habits and productivity levels.

Interested in seeing more examples? I also published a post covering gamification in B2B SaaS applications, and gamification in community and social network platforms.

1. SleepTown

Designed by the creators of the Forest app, SleepTown is another unique app that helps users improve their sleeping habits. It uses gamification by allowing users to construct their own town simply by maintaining a consistent sleep cycle.

Users set their bedtime and wake-up goal. Every evening, users are to open the SleepTown app before their bedtime goal to start constructing a building. On waking up in the morning, they can check the app and be surprised with a building that was constructed.

The app also recently introduced a social element by allowing user to build with family and friends by reaching the same sleep goals together.

2. Habitica

Habitica was one of the first “mainstream” apps to really fuse gamification into the process of building habits. The software takes the form of an actual online role-playing game to encourage their users to complete tasks, achieve goals, and build lasting habits.

3. Forest App

Forest is a timer app that helps users stay focused and present on the task they’re working on.

The app uses gamification by allowing its users to plant seeds which grow into trees by staying focused through the app’s timer. The trees will be killed if you leave the app. Users are kept motivated through growing their own forests and earning rewards to unlock new trees.

This simple mechanic leverages the IKEA Effect, which refers to the cognitive bias in which we place a higher value on things we create ourselves.

4. Todoist

Todoist is a multi-purpose task and to-do list management app. As a way to gamify task completion, Todoist has introduced Todoist Karma – a visual way to track and improve your personal productivity.

Your level goes up as you accumulate “positive Karma” by regularly completing tasks on time, adding labels, recurring deadlines, and reminders.

5. Fitocracy

Fitocracy is both a game and social network that utilizes gamification techniques to help users with their fitness goals. Founded over 10 years ago, the site boasts a massive 12.5 active million users.

The site uses a number of gamification elements to keep their users motivated. Users can participate in “Quests” which are various fitness challenges and programs, allowing them to earn points. and allow them to earn points. They can also earn “Achievements” and badges on the site for completing both in-app actions and fitness milestones.

6. Fitbit

As one of the largest wearable technology companies to date, Fitbit is more than just a basic fitness tracker. For some, it’s a way of life.

Walk 10,000 steps in a day, and you’re rewarded with a sense of achievement, along with a fun little fireworks animation.

Fitbit additionally encourages motivation by allowing its users to compete with family members and their social groups.

7. Beeminder

Beeminder is a unique tool that leverages the power of loss aversion – an observation that human beings experience losses asymmetrically more severely than equivalent gains. In other words, we’re more likely to put a bigger importance on losing something over gaining something of equal value.

In Beeminder’s case, that’s money. With Beeminder, you set a goal and pledge a certain amount of money you’re willing to give up if the goal isn’t reached.

Beeminder prompts you with reminders, and you’re to reply with data related to the goal/tasks you’ve setup earlier. If you start going off track, you’ll start losing the money you pledged.

8. EpicWin

EpicWin is a to-do list app that brings RPG (role-playing game) elements to motivate and engage its users. Completing tasks in this app allows you to gain experience points in order to develop your character in an ongoing quest.

The app brings together quirky and creative visuals, illustrations, quests, avatars and animated battles all into one unique and fun adventure.

9. Bounty Tasker

Similar to Habitica, Bounty Tasker is another gamified to-do list app that combines powerful productivity features with role-playing gaming elements to keep you motivated with completing tasks and reacehing your goals. How it works is very simple. You start by creating your tasks in a personal task board. You can create checklists, add reminders, and tag your tasks.

Completing your tasks allows you to gain experience points, level up, and grow stronger. The gamified app additionally allows you to acquire items and equipment to strengthen up your character in order to defeat wild monsters. Just like your character grows and becomes stronger, your personal life improves as well through completing tasks and meeting your personal objectives.

10. Productivity Challenge Timer

The Productivity Challenge Timer app brings a new twist on the popular Pomodoro Technique, a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo that helps people work with the time they have in short bursts (often 25 minutes).

The app utilizes gamification through ranks, leaderboards, and achievements. The core gamified mechanic is through its ranking system, in which you’re assigned a rank based on your performance over the past week. You earn and lose ranks based on the hours you’ve worked and your performance overtime, allowing you to move up or down ladders.

11. SuperBetter

SuperBetter is a mobile app focused on gamification in the mental health space. The app, founded by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, helps users to build resilience, achieve goals, and tackle challenges including anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, concussion recovery and more.

The core gamification mechanic behind SuperBetter is the Live Gamefully method, a framework that brings the psychological strengths and mindset of gameplay to real life.

12. Happify

Happify is an app in the mental health space that utilizes gamification techniques to help users defeat negative thought patterns, break bad patterns, reduce stress, and overcome the many challenges of life.

The app provides various engaging activities and games through “Tracks”.

Tracks are designed to help users develop their well‑being skills for specific life situations. Each track has four parts that guide users through fun, science-based activities designed by experts.

Got an example you’d like to share?

Are there any examples you think are interesting and you’d like to see added to this list? Feel free to send me an email.

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