Forming new habits and replacing old, unfavorable habits is hard. It takes a confusing combination of willpower, accountability and consistency to change your own behavior over many months. Thankfully, technology has provided a number of desktop and mobile applications to help you figure out what your best and worst habits are and how to make the best and most productive use of your time.
Here are several of the best apps and the unique features that can help you form healthy, productive habits and stay motivated to complete daily and weekly tasks with a newfound sense of accountability.
Habit forming, in reality, is about a little more than forming separate habits. It’s about building those habits into your routine as a collective set of daily tasks and activities. Productive is the app that will help you build the kind of routine you want to establish in your busy life. It will help you plan out which tasks and activities you want to accomplish every day. In the app, each day you accomplish all your planned out habits is marked as a “perfect” day. You can then see in the app how many “perfect” days you have had in a row. It’s both a planning and motivational tool to get you on track in your life and help you stay there.
2. Habit List
Habit List comes with a variety of features that allows you to not only set habits, but decide how often and on which days you want to complete them. As a motivational component, the app also encourages you to go on “streaks,” days in a row in which you complete a specific set of tasks. If you are trying to motivate yourself to floss every day, and you have successfully flossed for six days in a row, you are much more likely to floss the seventh day, even though it’s late and you’re tired and you would rather not (but you don’t want to break your streak!). The app also sends you push notification reminders to help you keep yourself, and your habits, on schedule.
Maybe you need a habit tracker that syncs all your devices together for more efficient workflow and work life balance. Momentum is a habit tracking app that helps you figure out what you spend the most of your time doing, so you can learn to use your time more wisely and spend more of it on habits that actually help you stay productive and improve your life. You can get the app for your phone or tablet or your desktop, and you can use iCloud to sync everything together for a more uniform look at your habits and progress. If you set daily habits, but need to take a sick day or you are going on vacation, you can skip those habits without it counting against you.
RescueTime is an app for your desktop or mobile devices that not only helps you figure out which apps and tasks you are spending the most of your time on, but also assists you in limiting the amount of time you spend doing things that are not worth your while. It can give you reports that show you how much of your time is spent on Facebook versus checking and answering emails, for example. If its reports show you that you are spending the majority of your time on Facebook, you can restrict or block the site by telling the app to not let you spend more than, say, 30 minutes on the platform in a single day.
If you have a hard time sticking to new habits, you might want to start treating your productivity a little bit more like a game. Habitica is a habit tracking and productivity app that lets you create a character and either rewards you for sticking to your daily habits or punishes you for breaking them. As you stick with your habits, you get coins, which help you level up and customize your virtual character. This kind of app can serve as much needed motivation for those who need more individual and public accountability as they are trying to form new habits and be more productive.
Sessions is a mobile app perfect for those who want a little bit more control over their activities and habits, and schedule out their days by specific blocks of time. Sessions allow you to choose an activity, such as doing yoga, and an amount of time you want to spend doing that activity every day, such as 30 minutes. When you decide it’s time to do yoga, you go into the app and start the timer. It counts down your session until you have completed 30 minutes of yoga and therefore marks down that you have successfully completed your session. The more sessions you complete, the more habits you will form.
Achieving balance in your life, just by using a mobile app, actually isn’t quite as impossible as you may have previously thought. Possibly one of the most unique features of Balanced, which is similar to Productive in many of its features, is that it helps you prioritize your tasks so that the most important things you want or need to get done show up first. This is extremely helpful for people who tend to create long lists of things they want to do and habits they want to form but don’t know how to focus on the most important things first. The app, like many others, rewards you for marking tasks as completed over just one or multiple days.
Tracking, forming and improving upon habits may seem impossible, but you have virtually an entire app store filled with habit tracking programs you can access from your mobile and desktop devices. These apps just get what you struggle with and what you need help with the most. Whether you want to floss more often or you have a much bigger life goal in mind, one of these apps is bound to become your new best friend.