HabitRPG has earned itself a lot of credit over the past few years, becoming the #1 app that most people think about when it comes to building and breaking habits. And while it’s extremely effective for some people, it’s not the best app for every situation.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that different habits need to be tackled in different ways. For example, the Pomodoro technique helps me when I need to study, but not when I’m trying to kick an addiction. As such, it seems more prudent to use a tailor-fitted solution when one is available.
Building and breaking habits is not always a fun process, but the following apps can help alleviate some of the struggle. Not only are they effective, but they all introduce some element that makes habit-changing more tolerable — maybe even enjoyable!
Available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
Whether physical addictions count as “bad habits” is a matter of semantics and not entirely fruitful to discuss. What really matters for people like you and me is that quitting is hard. Willpower is necessary, but not sufficient.
QuitNow! takes a three-pronged approach to help you overcome your smoking habit. First, it provides relevant information that shows you the practical benefits of quitting. Second, it provides a reward mechanism through gamification. Third, there’s a social component for that extra motivational boost when you need it most.
Millions who have installed it can attest to its effectiveness. Want to quit smoking? There’s no guarantee that this will work, but it can work, so isn’t it worth trying? What do you have to lose? (Don’t forget these websites for smoking addiction either!)
Available for Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and Web.
Another issue that many of us have to overcome is poor diet. Obesity is a growing problem in modern society and the proper way to defeat it has more to do with eating well than running on a treadmill all day long (although exercise is still important).
Yes, this means counting calories. The problem is that many people decry the discipline of calorie tracking because it’s too “stressful”. Lose It! understands this, which is why this is more than just a simple calorie tracking app.
In addition to weight loss goals and daily dietary plans, Lose It! connects people together in community. Fellow users keep each other accountable and motivated, cheering each other on during the darkest of times. And the kicker? It really works!
Of all the New Year resolutions that people come up with, the most common one is health. “I’m going to hit the gym and stop eating junk!” But most people give up within a few days or weeks, and down goes the resolution.
The problem? No consequences. When there’s no fear of repercussion, you rely entirely on willpower — but willpower is fickle and temperamental. What’s going to keep you diligent even when you “just aren’t feeling it today”?
Enter Pact. With this app, you commit to a weekly set of personal goals (fitness and/or diet) and you also declare an amount of money that you pay to Pact whenever you fail to meet those goals. When you’re successful, Pact pays you.
If you’re the kind of person who works best under external motivations, both positive and negative, then Pact is the perfect tool for you.
If the monetary stakes of Pact are too much for you to handle, there’s another app that’s less extreme but just as motivating: Zombies, Run!
Long story short, this app transports you into a zombie apocalypse. It’s a dynamic auditory story adventure that forces you to run lest the zombies overtake you. It’s a clever way to introduce a lot of fun and excitement into an otherwise boring run.
Though available for free, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version ($2.99 per month) to unlock all 200+ story missions along with some advanced features like extra training modes.
Most people are good about brushing their teeth on a twice-daily basis, but a surprising percentage of the population underestimates just how much time should be spent during each brushing session. In this case, the habit is about doing it properly as opposed to doing it at all.
BrushDJ helps you overcome this by randomly selecting and playing music from your mobile device. As long as you hear the music going, you have to keep brushing. It’s a neat solution that’s more effective than you might think.
Other features of BrushDJ include reminders to visit your hygienist, reminders to replace your toothbrush, scheduled times to floss and rinse with mouthwash, and dental hygiene tips that are relevant to your specific age.
One huge problem that dominates modern America is the inability to moderate our spending. It’s a tough habit to break, particularly because there are so many social pressures involved, but this problem is the main reason why so many of us are struggling to get out of debt.
Level Money was designed to curb this issue once and for all. You provide your banking information, which the app keeps secure, and Level Money will track all of your cash flow and spending habits, leaving you with how much “spendable” money you have every month.
It’s a convenient way to rein in your overspending without having to deal with budgets. Level Money is completely automated and frees you up to guiltlessly spend to your heart’s desire, but only as much as you can afford.
Mvelopes is a different way to take control of your finances. Unlike Level Money, which is hands-off and automated, Mvelopes is a digitized version of the “envelopes” method of budgeting.
In essence, every month you allot certain amounts of cash into different “envelopes” (or categories) and you can only purchase something if you have enough cash in the relevant envelope. But instead of fiddling with actual paper envelopes, it’s all handles by the app.
The free version allows you to connect up to 4 bank accounts and manage up to 25 envelopes. The Premier version ($95 per year) grants unlimited bank accounts, unlimited envelopes, and live chat support. For the typical user, the free one will be more than enough.
If you’re a student who has trouble establishing a productive studying pattern, there may be hope for you.
Developed by Reginald Laigo, whose credentials include a doctorate in Education, Study Habits is a top-rated app that employs several research-supported techniques to help you spread your studying over the semester rather than relying on a big cram session near the end.
At the start of the semester, you add your courses. Throughout the semester, you add in various assignments along with due dates, priorities, reminders, and “steps to complete” said assignment. Study Habits spreads it out for you, but also provides relevant study strategies to help you get things done efficiently.
Included study strategies include exercises for boosting memory, improving reading comprehension, managing time, and even reducing stress. The built-in achievement system also helps with motivation. All in all, a must-have app for all high school and college students.
Other Habit-Changing Apps
If you’ve come this far in the article and now realize that you’d actually prefer a more general solution, that’s fine. You can always use HabitRPG, which seems to be the standard these days, but there are two others that you might be interested in.
First, there’s Habit Streak Plan on Android. It’s a relatively simple app that focuses on “building streaks”, which is the essential core of habit-changing when you peel away all the layers.
Once you’ve built a streak, you’ll feel a strong psychological impulse to prevent breaking it, and that keeps you going. It’s so good that we think it’s one of the best apps for building new habits.
And then there’s Coach.me, which is a community-based approach to habits. You choose a particular goal (like “drink more water”) and the Coach.me community will help you along with advice, motivation, and reminders.
Which apps do you use for building and breaking habits? Got any tips or advice to share with those who are struggling? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!