By Maria Elena Cruz
SAN ANTONIO—We’ve all been there. It’s the start of a new year, we’ve got a list drawn up of resolutions and goals we hope to reach for the year, and we are definitely set out to make it happen this time. Then real life happens, and by day two or three we have fallen short of our expectations and are left feeling sad and disillusioned. But like everything else today, there is an app for that. Whether it’s more exercise, healthier eating, reading more or saving money, an app could help with sticking to those resolutions and leave you with a healthy sense of personal satisfaction.
This year, like millions of other people, I set a goal to get outside and run more often. To help me with this goal, I decided to download the app ZOMBIES, RUN! and see how it works for me. This app proved to be more enjoyable than I thought because, well, the zombies. The app combines traditional fitness tracking with elaborate audio stories that can be heard on your headphones while you are jogging. While the story unfolds, a mob of zombies suddenly appears and starts to chase you. The goal is to outrun the zombies and make it to the next level. Obviously, the more you run, the more exercise you get. This app transformed a boring morning jog into a full blown zombie apocalyptic survival exercise. It was a lot of fun. ZOMBIES. RUN! is free for iOS and Android. If you want more features, it costs $3 a month.
Would you like to stop habitually checking your phone every two seconds? Ironically, an app on your phone could help make that happen for you this year. The new app FOREST has helped a lot of people put their phones down, and it’s surprisingly easy to use.
The concept behind this app is aimed at keeping folks away from their phone by helping users resist checking Facebook, email, Instagram or playing games for a given amount of time set by the user. The app then plants a “seed” on the screen, and the longer a user stays off the phone during the allotted time, the more the seed grows. Eventually, if the phone is left unchecked, the seed grows into a beautiful tree or bush. If you fall into temptation and check your phone, the app will display a motivational message (which you can customize) reminding you to put your phone down.
Overall, the app has cute graphics, and if you manage to resist the urge to check your phone, a good sense of resolution satisfaction in the end. Unless you do check your phone, in that case, FOREST will make you feel like a loser.
There are plenty of other cool things about this app. It’s free for Android, but it offers the option to purchase coins that could get you bigger and better seeds that will produce bigger and better trees. The app also tracks your progress and allows you to compare your achievements with other users around the world.
The app actually worked for me. It reminded me that I used to have real friends before social media came along, and encouraged me to ignore my phone and talk to family and friends when I was with them. The tree takes about an hour to reach full-grown and immediately dies the minute you check your phone.
Those looking to break or make a new habit this year can try HABITBULL. Experts say the trick to making a new habit stick is by repetition, and HABITBULL is the app for that. It’s is perfect for those who’d like to quit procrastinating, smoking, nail biting, cursing or even those who’d like to quit being habitually late to class.
The app aims at helping people stick to newly created habits in behavior by utilizing a habit tracker. The user enters details about whatever habit they’d like to learn (or un-learn) and the app keeps track of how well you are doing in sticking to the goal.
HABITBULL allows you to completely customize your progress and set when and how you’d like to measure your level of achievement. Users rate their success on a yes or no basis, or based on a count (as in step counting.)
When entering new data to track in the app, the user simply chooses which habit it is working on from a list. The app lets you track up to 100 habits. The weekly report is awesome. It includes graphs and percentages, and a discussion forum where you can join chatrooms and talk with others about how they are managing to keep their bad habits in check. The app tracks a habit for 66 days, it provides a “streak” calendar and motivational phrases to encourage you not to give up. This app is free with an option to upgrade for $5. While the app helped me track some habits, it did take up a lot of room on my phone. It is available on iOS and android.
If picking up a book or two is your goal, BLINKLIST is a new app that could help with that. The app consists of cool excerpts-called blinks-of hundreds of nonfiction books. The app does all the reading for you and then summarizes the book. It is better than book reviews, and offers more details than say, a book excerpt. It touts the fact you can read any book in 15 minutes, so it’s perfect for busy bookworms who have a hard time finding time to reading a whole book, or are looking for a good book to read. The best part of the app is the vast amount of interesting facts and topics it has to offer. The downside is that while it is free for three days, it will cost you $4.99 a month after that. While it is expensive for an app, it does offer over 1,000 books.
So if you are struggling to keep those well-intentioned resolutions this year, don’t quit just yet. Look for an app specific to your goal or resolution to help you stay on top of it. More importantly, if at first you don’t succeed in keeping a goal, part of the recipe for success is not giving up.