Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Did you keep them? If you fail at those resolutions every year like most of us, perhaps it’s time to employ some technology. To improve your chances of success, download a habit-tracking app to your phone.
People say Jerry Seinfeld wanted to write at least one joke each day. He hung up a large wall calendar and made a big red X over the date whenever he wrote material. As he did this, he realized he gained great satisfaction just from making the mark each day. From this event we learned an important key to building habits – “Don’t Break the Chain.”
Big wall calendars may have worked for Jerry Seinfeld, but I seriously doubt you want to carry one with you everywhere. How about a more modern, technological approach? Try a habit-tracking app.
Habit-tracker apps encourage positive habits because you can check off the good habits you complete each day. You can also use one to eliminate bad habits by marking the days or times you did NOT do those things.
Since many habit-tracking apps have other purposes as well, I narrowed the field to apps designed to focus primarily on building habits and not much else. Five Android apps were tested: Loop, Goal Tracker and Habit List, Habit Hub, Habit Bull, and Habitica.
Loop is a minimalistic, completely free app that uses a checkmark to show the days you completed the habit. Like other habit trackers, Loop gives you graphs to show your progress. The calendars show your history and help you improve upon weaknesses such as difficulty on a particular day of the week.
Loop does something unique, though, by creating a “habit score.” This score shows the strengths of your habits. The program calculates over time, so missing a few days here and there won’t completely ruin your score.
2. Goal Tracker and Habit List
Ala Jerry Seinfeld, the app Goal Tracker and Habit List uses a calendar. Tap the date once, and the blue check indicates success. Tap it again, and the red X appears meaning you didn’t complete the task that day.
The calendar acts as a habit history for the entire month. It shows the days you completed, but it doesn’t offer anything like the habit score Loop offers. Like Loop, Goal Tracker & Habit List is free. This app updates to local storage as well as to Google Play. This feature, that Loop does not have, guarantees you will not lose your data even if you get a new phone.
3. Habit Hub
Habit Hub uses visual habit chains. If you miss a day, the chain breaks and you have to start over to reach the target number of twenty-one days in a row. The app gives you an option others don’t: skipping a day without penalty. For example, if you are sick, you can skip tasks, and it won’t hurt your streak.
This app shows your progress using streak calendars and graphs. The calendars help you to see patterns of success, and the two other graphs show your growth and your current “habit strength” which is similar to the habit score in Loop.
With Habit Hub you can categorize the habits. So if you want to view only the tasks you need for your morning routine, you can select to see only one category. Categories reduce distraction when it eliminates unnecessary items from the current view. This app is free, but if you would like to track more than five habits, you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version for a price less than $5.00.
Choosing habits in HabitBull is a bit more detailed than the other apps discussed so far. This app gives you ideas for habits to get you inspired. A unique feature of HabitBull is the ability to create number goals as well as simple yes/no completion goals.
HabitBull offers integration with Google Fit for those who want to focus on exercise or health habits that are tracked on there.
Like most of these apps, HabitBull uses visual habit chains. When you miss a day, the chain breaks. Unlike the other apps, though, you can set your own goal for the number of days that constitutes a successful streak, and it defaults to sixty-six days.
To keep you motivated, HabitBull shows inspiring quotes that relate to categories you are trying to improve.
HabitBull is also free but with the option to upgrade if you want to get all you can from the app.
Habitica is for those of who want to go all in on habit-tracking or turn it into an opportunity for gaming. In Habitica you have an avatar who is affected by your habits. Complete your tasks, and your avatar thrives. Do poorly with your habits, and … well, you get the idea.
Habitica is free, but you can purchase a monthly subscription which gets your avatar more cool stuff. It does not give you more options for habit tracking.
f you’ve struggled with new habits at the beginning of the new year, you can start over anytime. And when you find yourself having great success, you can thank technology for helping you. You may want to shout out to Jerry Seinfeld as well!
This article was first published in July 2015 and was updated in February 2018.
Image credit: Good Habits written on the rural road by DepositPhotos