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Forming good lifestyle habits is key to better personal health and productivity. Some we cultivate while growing up, others are harder to achieve without commitment – and your iPhone can help.
If you’re an iPhone user, there are apps that can help keep track of your commitment to all manner of good habits, from flossing your teeth and exercising to eating less fast food, meditating or taking vitamins. These apps don’t scream at you or guilt you into keeping up, instead they provide gentle reminders to keep trying until you cultivate a habit well enough to no longer need to track it.
Unlike making lofty new year resolutions, forming habits can be started and practiced at any time. Like right now.
Develop a Plan
The apps featured in this article are useful reminders for keeping track of the habits you’re trying to cultivate, but you still need to develop a strategy to reach your goals. Here are few suggestions:
- Start with only a few, very important habits that you want to cultivate, and give yourself at least two months to achieve your goal.
- Think of ways to multitask your habits. For example, I floss my teeth while taking shower, drink 32 ounces of water while driving my son to and from school, and make phone calls while taking a 45 minute walk in the evening.
- Put your habit app on the home screen or dock of your iPhone and launch it twice a day to log your habits.
- Keep a journal about why you need to cultivate a particular habit and the progress you’re making toward it.
- Tell family members or friends about your habit goals, so they can ask how well you’re doing, and praise you for reaching your goals.
- Read a good book about changing and cultivating habits, such as The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.
Good Habits (Free)
Good Habits is an easy to use app with a clean user interface. You can set specific reminders for the time and days of each habit, and receive iPhone notifications to log your progress. You can also pause a habit and resume at a later date.
Good Habits includes a calendar that highlights the progress you’re making, which it marks in red days you missed. Thie app is free, simple and a good place to start your journey.
AnyHabit (Free) [No Longer Available]
If you prefer using swiping and sliding gestures in iPhone apps, AnyHabit makes great use of intuitive navigation. Pull down to create a new habit log, swipe a log to the right after you carry it out, or swipe to the left when you don’t.
AnyHabit also provides a statistical overview of how well you’re doing, and you can also use the notes feature to write and reflect on the progress you’re making. Notes reduce the need to keep journal entries in another app, which is a huge plus if you find it hard to keep up. Like the rest of the app, you can simply pull down to create a new note.
Way of Life (Free, $4.99 to remove ads)
If you’re looking for good habits to cultivate, Way of Life provides a couple of dozen to get you started — from exercising, eating fruit and drinking water to avoiding late night snacks, or watching too much television. When you set up a habit, you can identify it as good (one that you want to cultivate) or one that you want to change or stop.
Way of Life is similar AnyHabit in that it also includes an overview of how well you’re doing with your habits, and data can be exported to Dropbox, email, or to a .CSV file. The app also includes a notes feature for journaling, and a button for skipping a few days without guilt.
The free version of Way of Life is limited to three habits, and the adverts are in my view, obtrusive. So if you find the app useful, you should probably pay for the upgrade.
Lift bills itself as a “life coach.” It too suggests dozens of habit goals, and keeps track of your progress, but unlike the other habit apps, Lift includes social networking integration. This means that you can choose to share your goals with others instead of keeping them private.
Even if you keep your goals private, you can still view the comments of other Lift users and how they are doing with the same or similar goal as yours. This feature is definitely a motivator in and of itself. It reminds me of how I developed a daily habit of walking 7000+ steps a day in part by following users on the Jawbone UP app who were also working toward similar walking goals.
Lift also includes weekly stats on your progress, a notes feature for personal reflection and the ability to update previous days and edit logs by sliding the selected item to the right.
Try Them All
Because all these apps are free, there’s no reason not try a couple of them to see which works best for you. Cultivating a new habit, be it reading 30 minutes a day, eating more fruit, waking up at 6:30, or getting eight hours of sleep, builds your self-esteem, and improves your overall mental and physical health.
Let us know about your habits, and what suggestions you have for others working toward similar goals.