3 Mobile Apps to Help You Make Good Habits -- Or Break Bad Ones
It's that time of year when we all make a commitment to break a bad habit or develop a good one. First week of January, it's all smooth sailing but by the end of the month, not so much. It's not you. Habits can be difficult to make and break, especially when you're trying to make a change on your own.
What you might need is some virtual support. Whether you respond better to social pressure, cold facts or satirical humor, there's an app to help you stay on track. Here are three that might be worth checking out:
1. Way of Life - The Ultimate Habit Maker & Breaker
This data-driven app is designed to make tracking quick and easy. Simply type in the behavior you want to start or stop, then check the yes or no box on a daily basis. If you forget to check-in, the app sends a push notification to keep you on track.
Once you've entered several days' worth of data, Way of Life creates a bar graph showing your progress in days or a percentage. You can also switch on the trend lines to get a better picture of your highs and lows. Habits take time, so the app has the ability to chart the last six weeks, six months or two years.
If you're trying to develop a once-a-week habit, you can use the blue skip button so you don't accrue unwanted red marks for bad behavior. The free version of the iPhone app is fully functional but limits you to only three habits. To load more items, you can purchase the pro version for $4.99.
Related: Business Apps to Use Now (Video)
Instead of cold hard facts, Lift uses community support to help you make or break a habit. For almost every habit there's an expert-led group that can help you come up with achievable goals. Instead of "I want to lose 50 pounds" it's "Eat one fruit a day for 21 days." To record your progress, tap the big green button. Fall short one day? Lift says put it behind you and try to beat your best streak the next time.
With the science of positive reinforcement at the core, Lift asks you to make a seven-day commitment. That's all. If you can stick with the plan for a week, then you're on the road to making or breaking a habit.
Let's play a game. It's called "Don't Suck at Life." That's how the developer chose to introduce Carrot to the world. This app has attitude.
Though designed for a traditional To Do list, Carrot can help you make or break habits by dangling rewards (aka carrots) in front of you. When you complete tasks you get points which you can use to unlock features, purchase cheat codes or gain access to a virtual kitten. . . a kitten you can dress in a pirate costume.
Slack off and Carrot gets angry which leads to it calling you names and sending you angry messages. Even nice Carrot is a little mean because she's known to offer you a brownie as a reward when sticking to your diet. If you're extremely competitive and respond well to negative reinforcement, Carrot's the app for you.
It's available for the iPhone or iPad and it costs $1.99.
Cynthia Boris is a freelance writer based in Orange County, Calif. Covering all things tech and TV, her work has appeared on websites such as Tecca, MarketingPilgrim, SheKnows and io9.