• Lifestyle

5 games that actually make you more productive

Do you have trouble making time for your goals?

I’m usually the happiest when I have a lot of side projects going on at once. But finding the time to focus on them can be a major problem, especially when it comes to balancing career-related goals – like learning to code – with personal goals, like cooking at home more.

Many people say that the best way to actually achieve your goals is to form new habits. (There’s an interesting book about this). The point is to re-wire yourself so that you do the things that you want to do on autopilot, without it having to be this huge effort each time that requires planning.

Right now, I tend to spend my “autopilot time” reading silly articles on the internet or playing games on my phone. It’s not what I want to spend my free time on, it’s just what my brain thinks is fun. To help combat this, I’m always looking for new ways to make being productive feel more like the fun, entertaining stuff that I tend to waste time on.

Luckily, there are number of tools that were created to make reaching one’s goals feel more like a game. It might be a mind trick, but it’s a highly effective one! Here are a few that I’ve found recently:


HabitRPG is a productivity app that turns your to-do lists into a role playing game. You decide which daily habits will give you health and experience points (making your lunch, going to the gym, etc), and which bad habits will take points away!

When you check off a to-do or complete a project, you’re rewarded with experience points and gold, just like in a real RPG. The more productive you are, the more features you’ll unlock and levels you’ll reach.


I’ve always been a firm believer that exercise is better in a fun format, whether that means playing sports, rock climbing, or taking up sailing. But even just regular ol’ workouts can become a game with the right motivational tool.

Fitocracy is a workout app that utilizes game-like elements to make getting in shape more fun. Users can accumulate points to level up, perform quests, unlock achievements, and follow other users on Fitocracy’s social network.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is another awesome resource. Available on iOS or Android, this running app immerses you in an action-based game that’s mixed with your own music. To escape the hordes of zombies, you have to increase your running speed (and get a serious workout at the same time).

The app has over “100 runs of gripping story and gameplay.”

Epic Win

EpicWin is an iOS app that, like HabitRPG, uses a video game-like setting to encourage you to complete your to-do list. (As their website puts it, ‘life is full of little quests’). Users create characters in an on-going quest to level-up, gain riches, develop skills, and move to new locations. This app has particularly advanced graphics!


We’ve written about Duolingo before, but I particularly love this app so am going to mention it again. Duolingo is a language learning app for French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. It’s very entertaining, and it’s totally free! Use Duolingo often to unlock achievements and keep up your learning streak.


Jane McGonigal is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games. She specializes in games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems such as poverty, hunger, and climate change. She’s even developed games and secret missions for the American Heart Association and the International Olympics Committee!

Her last game, SuperBetter, was one she developed for herself to help overcome debilitating after-effects from a concussion injury. McGonigal put the game online with instructions so that other people could play and use it to tackle health issues such as cancer, depression, or chronic disease.

You can learn more about SuperBetter and Jane McGonigal’s game research in this fascinating TED Talk:

Freelancers, have you tried using games to achieve your goals?

Antonia Blair likes all things related to art, design, or tech. Follow her on Twitter @AntoniaBlairArt