Habit Trackers: The Why and The WHYYYYYY?!?

By Liz Eldridge

I have two jobs. No, wait. I have 3 jobs? I guess depending on how you count it I have 5, really. Most of the people I know are like this. We’re Millenials! We’re so busy! We have so many jobs and interests! We have so many apps! Specifically — Habit Tracker Apps. Habit Tracker apps that languish unopened, reminding us of the Bullet Journals we purchased so they could also languish, unopened and taunting.

NO MORE! Today, we’ll try to cut through the hype and help you find a habit tracker app that works for you.

But first: why bother? So, call me a Millennial, call me a late-20s-early-30s creative professional, call me Susan, what I really am is goal-driven. And I’m good at achieving certain kinds of goals — like hitting my marketing numbers, getting booked at a certain venue, convincing a director to hire me. But when it comes to the good-for-my-wellness-stuff, I’m not…great. 

This is me:

I’m going to meditate every day! For three days!

Also me:

I’m going to the gym four times a week! For three weeks!

Something is not working here, and it’s not me — I have 10 jobs, remember? I work a ton! I’m trying a new behavior, but I’m dropping off just before it really becomes a HABIT. Researchers for a 2009 study at the University College London believe it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. That’s, um, way longer than three days. So how can I hold myself accountable, stay motivated, and actually form the habit? I keep hearing that Bullet Journaling is the answer, but je suis obsessed with my phone, so I need the digital version of that.

If you’re like me, here are 4 habit trackers to try:

1. Momentum

How The App Describes Itself:

Based on Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret

“Don’t Break the Chain” is dead simple, yet highly effective — Every day that you complete a habit, your chain grows longer. As your chain grows longer, you become less likely to quit.

What I Think (You Know, Like, If You Care):

This app is universally beloved. It’s got a ton of press and the reviews are rapturous. But for me it seems very…elaborate. Which is totally cool, if that’s what you feel you need! It connects to all your Apple products, so you will never escape it. The thing is, an app that advertises how easy it is to export your data into an Excel spreadsheet to further track your progress is just a little intense for me. I think I would rebel. I’m 90% certain I would stop practicing mindfulness just to spite the app. That’ll show ‘em!

Who’s It For:

The Data Junkie! If you’re into all the doo-dads and reminders and love to track, track, track, this is so the thing for you. Go forth and download in peace. If you’re a rebel like me, read on…

2. Habitica

How The App Describes Itself:

Motivate yourself to do anything.

Habitica is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.

What I Think (You Know, Like, If You Care):

Your goals are literally a game to them! Which is really cool! I like the pixelated dragons, I like that you get ‘lil prizes for doing the thing. My first worry here is that I would get bored with the game. I was over Angry Birds WAY before everybody else, you guys. My second worry: my goal will feel less important to me if it’s all about, you know, dragons.

Who’s It For:

People who like games! So that’s most people, right? This takes a lot of the SERIOUS IMPORTANT PLANS TO MAKE ME BETTER BETTER BETTER feeling of many Habit Trackers out of the equation, which might make the whole enterprise a lot less intimidating. Fun and frivolous is great! But I also worry that it will make my goals feel frivolous, which is less great. If you are into fun, try this app! If you are no-fun like me, read on…

3. Streaks

How The App Describes Itself:

The to-do list that helps you form good habits.

What I Think (You Know, Like, If You Care):

This app is kind of brilliant in its simplicity. You only get 6 things! Those 6 things have to happen! There’s not a ton of stuff or notifications or dragons, though the design is lovely and customizable. You can also add some items to your list that you already do (positive reinforcement!) along with what you’re trying to do (it’s just one of the 6 things you always do!).

Who’s It For:

People who just want this whole goal-setting + habit tracking thing to be simple. Of course, it’s not always simple because our lives are complex! But the app doesn’t get that. It wants you to do the 6 things. All 6 things. Always. If you just want a little reminder that you’ve committed to do the thing, this could be it for you. If you need more support, see above…OR BELOW…

4. Your Calendar 

(There’s no link here because I know you already have it)

How The App Describes Itself:

It doesn’t, it is just a calendar. You put all your business-y and personal things here that you need to go do at certain times on certain days. It makes a noise 10 minutes before you have to do the thing.

What I Think (You Know, Like, If You Care):

I just realized I don’t want another app I have to look at and I already look at my calendar all the time! I know what I want to do because I took this quiz and it told me! So I just made a recurring event once a week to plan the times I’m going to practice mindfulness and go to yoga or barre class. And if I have to move things around, I will!

As for the accountability part, the reminders that my goal is important and worth making time for, that I am important and worth making time for — well, that’s why I have Do The Good Stuff. 😉✌️

 

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