Science research indicates forming new habits is a pain in the arse. But luckily, there are a handful of ways you can use your smartphone to change your daily routine. If you need an extra motivational boost to develop a new habit or kick an old one, there are several apps that can help. We picked out our six favourites to help you set goals and achieve them.
Momentum (iOS, OS X) is simple app based around the idea that it's easier to keep a new habit going once you've started. In the app, sticking to your good habits extends the "chain" of positivity. The belief is that most people will want to keep the chain growing over time.
You can set up reminders, notes, and interactive notifications, as well as weekly targets to keep you flossing or clearing your inbox (or whatever habit it is you want to develop). It works with the Apple Watch too for checking up on your progress from your wrist.
2) Google Calendar
The app isn't new, but the Goals feature is. You can now use Google Calendar (Android, iOS, web) to set goals for yourself. You choose the necessary parameters, and the app then finds some spare space in your diary to get regular slots scheduled in.
Goals can be set around exercise, skills, family time, 'me time' or organisation, and if you adjust the dates that Google Calendar picks for you, then the app is smart enough to learn your habits, and make better suggestions the week after.
Few apps can match the comprehensiveness of HabitBull (Android, iOS), which includes a plethora of charts and statistics, flexible goal setting, a variety of export options, and cloud syncing. If you're on Android, there are home screen widgets you can use as well.
You can set up logging and monitoring for up to 100 habits, which should be enough for even the most enthusiastic self-quantifier. The app also excels with its customisable notifications system that can give you that extra boost to stay on track with your goals.
The wonderful Habitica (Android, iOS, web) turns your life into a video game... sort of. Treat morning exercise routines as quests and healthy meals as a chance to level-up — sticking to the habits you've set up earns you rewards and random prizes.
The idea is that by "gamifying" your daily routine and life goals you can find extra motivation to change your habits. While the little monsters and RPG-style language won't suit everyone, it's a novel approach to forming healthier habits.
Like Habitica, Goalify (Android, iOS) wants to help you reach your goals by turning them into a game of sorts — it's flexible enough to cope with specific habits you want to develop as well as vaguer aims, and there are plenty of reports and statistics to pore over as well.
New items can be set up in one of four categories depending on what you're trying to achieve: Flex, Task, Avoid or Limit. While you do have to pay a subscription fee to get the most out of the app, you can get plenty of free use out of it to decide if it suits you.
Productive (iOS) is another app that puts the emphasis on keeping going and maintaining a streak of successful habit-forming days. On the surface it's a simple-looking, straightforward app. But if you need more detailed functions, then the options are there.
You can split your habits up into morning, afternoon, and evening ones, get reminders when you've forgotten about something, and tap into a bunch of stats to remind you how well you're doing. The app supports the Apple Watch too for on-the-go habit forming.