Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for some New Year’s resolutions. It’s no secret that a suspiciously high number of New Year’s resolutions fail fairly quickly, but humans are hopeful. So we keep doing the same thing every year.
One of the best ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions is to make yourself accountable and track your progress. This is where Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” effect kicks in. As you see you’re doing the thing you wanted to do (or not doing the thing you wanted to avoid), all you want to do is keep the streak going.
Today we’re taking a look at the best tools available to us modern humans: apps. Delicious, thoughtfully designed iPhone apps. Because your iPhone is constantly with you, there’s a high chance that constant nagging and motivation might just help you get over the hump.
All 3 Apps Get the Basics Right
The apps we’re talking about are Productive, Today, and Streaks. There are no bad apples in this article. All three apps listed here do their job well. It’s just that they take a slightly different approach.
These are the things you want a good habit tracker to do:
- Give you fine-tuned controls when adding a habit. For example, creating a habit you’re only going to do twice a week, or 10 times a month, or something you’re going to check multiple times a day.
- Nag you about checking in.
- Make it quick and easy to check in.
- Gratify your progress by showing you your streaks.
- Be easy on the eyes and pleasant to use. An extra delight goes a long way.
All three of these do most of these tasks and they do them well.
1. Productive (Free, $3.99 In-App Purchase)
Productive’s approach to habit tracking is utilitarian. But its use of vibrant colors and typography wants to scream just how fun the app is. Productive makes it easy to add a task.
But best of all, it’s a pleasant experience to check in. At the end of the day, just open the app, swipe right on things you accomplished and boom, they’re marked. Want to see your streak, just tap on a goal. If you tap on the Stats button, you’ll get an entire list of useful, gratifying stats about your check-ins.
The reason I’ve put Productive at the top of the list is because the app is free to start. It doesn’t hold out any core functionality until you upgrade either. The $3.99 in-app purchase provides access to the floodlight theme and a passcode lock, but that’s it.
I don’t usually pick the free app as the top pick just because they’re free but as the aim of this article is to make it really easy to get started with habit tracking, I’m going to give that policy a pass. It also helps that Productive is a really good app.
2. Today (Free, $4.99 In-App Purchase)
If Productive is the smart one, Today is the pretty one. If you’re a visual person, you’ll really appreciate Today’s beautiful UI, the use of pretty stock images for each habit, and soothing typography.
Today takes a full-screen approach to habit tracking. You’ll need to swipe between pages to go through all the habits you’re tracking. If you’re tracking more than half a dozen habits (you really shouldn’t be), that can get tiring. Today lets you 3D Touch or long press to mark a goal complete for the day.
And this buttonless behavior makes Today very seamless to use. Swipe between pages, 3D Touch to mark something complete, swipe up to see your streaks.
While Today is also a free app, it does limit how many habits you can track at once. Other premium features like passcode lock require a one-time $4.99 in-app purchase.
3. Streaks ($3.99)
Streaks is the weird one here. The app got me interested because it won an Apple Design Award in 2016. While the app itself is thoughtfully designed, it just didn’t make sense for me at first. Your mileage may vary.
The app takes a minimalist approach. But Streaks stands out in this list because how well it integrates with the Health app. You can set up goals for walking, running, sleeping and more and the app will import the relevant data from the Health app and automatically check off a goal when you reach it. This gives you a whole different perspective on your health and fitness goals, in streak form, that Apple’s Health app just won’t.
You can also set up another habit, select an icon for it and set flexible goals for it.
When it comes to checking off items and viewing streaks, I have a problem with the app. The app’s home screen shows your goals as icons inside a circle (the circle being a progress bar of sorts for Health app related activities). Tapping the icon actually changes the view to give you other information. To check something off you need to tap and hold. This can be annoying at first, but you just need to get used to it. Tap the icon in the bottom-right corner to check the view for all goals.
But it’s the little touches in Streaks that I appreciate the most. When you check off an item that you haven’t completed the day before, you get a helpful message asking if you want to mark yesterday as complete instead. As someone who stays up well after the midnight, this feature is really helpful.
Streaks is a paid app and costs $3.99. Streaks isn’t for everyone. But if you want a minimal, flexible approach to your habit tracking — that can sometimes be a bit annoying — Streaks is for you. The fact that the Watch app is also pretty good is the cherry on top.
Now Get Into the Right Mindset
You have the right tools but that’s not enough. To succeed with your new year resolution, you’ll need to be in the right mindset as well.
What are your new year resolutions for this year? And how are you planning on sticking with them? Share with us in the comments below.
Image Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds via Shutterstock.com