Ihave never really made New Year’s resolutions, until this year. I have tried in the past, but with my scatterbrain, by mid-
January I’ve forgotten my goals.
This year it’s different. I’m using some apps to help me stick to my resolutions. We’ll see whether the best 21st-century motivational companion is the smartphone or the tablet. If you want to try the experiment, too, here’s where to start.
Astrid Tasks/To-do List
The Astrid Tasks/To-do List app (free on iOS and Android) is not specifically meant for keeping resolutions, but as its name suggests it’s both a to-do list app and a reminders app. To use it for resolutions, just enter them as tasks and set repeating reminders. With all your data inside, Astrid becomes your portable digital conscience, gently nagging you to hit the gym, practice the piano, leave work on time, and so on. (Ah, if only my smartphone knew when I was picking up a piece of chocolate.)
The app’s interface is simplicity itself. It’s a list of the tasks you’ve entered, with icons that tell you if each one has been completed or if it’s a recurring task.
Entering a task (or a resolution, in this case) is easy: Click ‘‘add,’’ type in the resolution, and select a reminder alarm if you need one. In my case, the app is going to ping me at 9 a.m. every day to remind me to take a morning jog. If you need moral support, you can tell the app to share your goals with friends via e-mail or Facebook.
The iOS and Android apps differ a bit. The iOS version is cuter, thanks to its icons and cleaner design; the Android version is trickier to operate. (I found it hard to see the little ‘‘save’’ icon when setting the time for a reminder, for example.) But both versions work well, and both integrate with a cloud-based database so you can sync all your goal data among your devices.
Streaks — Motivational Calendar
For a simpler, calendar-based app to help you keep a resolution, try Streaks — Motivational Calendar ($2 on iTunes). After you’ve added a goal, you tap on the app’s calendar to cross off a day when you achieve the goal. It’s a little like playing a game; the app keeps track of the longest streak of days you’ve managed, and your current number.
Though it is much less sophisticated than the others mentioned here, it’s ideal for those pressed for time, because interacting with it is so fast. Momentum Builder is a free Android app similar to Streaks, though its design is not as polished.
A new fitness or health regimen is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and Fitocracy (free on iOS) is an app that can help you stick to it. It has a social group setup similar to Lift’s, but it’s exercise-centric, with a much jollier design.
For example, during setup the button to advance to the next settings page is labeled ‘‘go forth!’’ rather than a boring ‘‘next.’’ This playful attitude is really what the app is all about. It awards you points when you finish activities and has gamelike features like reward badges and even ‘‘level ups.’’ This combination of lightheartedness and a sense of community spirit may be exactly what you need to help you keep you exercising.
Hiawatha Bray is not writing today. Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.