Thursday, February 24, 2022

Comparison of 4 habit tracking apps for yourself or use in learning

Since January I have been testing four habit tracker apps - apps that help you develop habits. Do you you firm resolutions to lose less time on your phone, loose your corona kilos? Or intend to run three times a week instead of barely once? These four these apps can help you build your new routines. The apps work for a variety range of habits. You may think that these apps mainly help with healthier living, such as exercising more or losing weight. That is certainly not the case. They can help with new habits such as learning more, reading, more active networking of playing guitar. Besides the fact that these apps can help you yourself, they are also great to use in a training or trajectory in which you help participants with new routines.

1. Streaks 

Streaks is a free downloadable app, for Apple and Android. The great thing about Streaks is that it's super simple: you download the app, click on the big plus to add a habit and you choose a frequency. After this you have to record your habit by clicking the circle each time you've performed. What's great is that you can link Streaks directly to your pedometer so it automatically keeps track of your steps. The app is called Streaks because it encourages you to stick with it and get a streak. You have to persevere every day or you will break the streak. I have to admit I have gone out for a second short walk to get my extra 500 steps :). 

2. HabitShare 

Habitshare is also free and very easy to use. You can write down your activities and how often you want to do this activity, daily or weekly and which days per week. The advantage over Streaks is that you can add friends and invite them to follow a habit. You can also chat with your friends. It does work as a stimulus if you get notifications from your friends. Their slogan is therefore "habit tracking just went social". The app is available for both Apple and Android. Here you will find more info and reviews. Four stars and not five because Habitshare does not look as attractive as Streaks.

3. Fabulous

Fabulous is an app with beautiful design. This app is not free. It costs $39 a year. You can try it for free for 7 days and after that I got another month for free. The app is based on behavioral science - from Duke University's Behavioral Economics Lab by Dan Ariely. It works slightly differently than Habitshare and Streaks. You indicate which areas you want to work on, eg your health or study habits and then you receive tips for habits. For instance, I choose health and had to drink 3 glasses of water in the morning. You can also participate in all kinds of challenges. It is a nice app if you dive right into it, there are stories that you can listen to, explanations and a community. Three stars because it is so beautiful but quite complicated and not free.

4. Habitica

Habitica is an app which is gamified. Their slogan is therefore "Gamify your life". You can create an avatar of yourself. I unlocked a sword, chocolate and candy. Unfortunately it didn't work for me. I didn't quite figure out how to put my tasks in the app. But if you like gamification it might be a nice app. One star but as far as I'm concerned because I didn't get into the Habitica mood. Freely available for Apple and Android.

More, more! 

There are many more habit tracker apps:
  • MyEP - with videos andd coaches
  • Randomly remind me (only for android)- good in reminders and motivational quotes 
  • Yapp reminder - like Randomly remind me but for Apple
  • Way of life - looks good and with the promise to motive you :)
  • Zombies run - I think this one is great for running, because you have to make sure you stay ahead of the zombies!
  • - habit tracker app is free and for 25 dollar per month you can get a coach 
  • Productive - free, easy and high ratings
  • Superbetter- a game based on research. I am currently trying this one
  • EpicWin- helps accomplish tasks
  • Nukshuk - has a nice story. The name comes from the Inuit who use stones to help each other remember
  • Moments - both for habits and to-do lists. I tried it once and abandoned it. 
A special mention is for Conqueror, an app that allows you to virtually walk the Great Wall of China! (not for free)

My experiences with the habit trackers

I tested the four apps for a month. My intentions were to read blogs via Feedly, walk 5000 steps a day and play guitar. What struck me is that the apps don't motivate you. You must already be motivated yourself :). For example, I had to get used to the idea that I was finally going to play guitar, and I found it quite easy to ignore a reminder from the app. I already have the habit to read Feedly, I wanted to do that more regularly and that made me more prone to respond to a reminder. Besides, you have to get into the habit of using the app. 

If you are self-motivated, the apps can help you by:
  • Formulating your intentions and setting the bar. It helps to make your intentions concrete and to choose how often you want to do something. Streaks also suggests to reduce the frequency if you don't comply. For instance, I've reduced the frequency of playing guitar from daily to 1-2 times a week.
  • The apps send you reminders at a time of the day that you choose. It helps not to forget.
  • You can feel peer pressure which may help you perform. Habitshare and Fabulous do this. In Habitshare you can share your intentions with friends, and if they also share their intentions, you will receive notifications. When I saw that my friend Karin was learning Spanish, I felt guilty about skipping guitar. In Fabulous there are challenges and a community that you can join.
  • You get insight into the numbers. In Streaks you get notifications when you struggle with a task and the suggestion to adjust the frequency. You also see how many steps are still missing in a day. In Streaks you will see great statistics.