January 16, 2013 7:31pm
One of the tricks to making a habit last is to repeat it again and again. Usually that’s a case of ‘easier said than done’, as if you don’t remember than you need to do it, the cycle breaks and the new routine is likely to fall apart.
That’s why I found the appropriately-titled Good Habits interesting; it’s a free utility for your iOS device that not only allows you to track your actions, but actively reminds you to do them through push notifications. For example, I can set up a reminder to back up my phone’s contents every day at 10AM, and the app will send me a message to do so.
Once you complete the action, you can mark it off on a calendar to show that you’ve finished. Eventually, a chain graphic begins to form that’ll server as a representation of how long you’ve been at it, and serve as a positive reinforcement to keep doing better. For example, in the screenshots below I’ve backed up my phone every day since December 31, and the green line reflects that.
Of course, you can have multiple events at the same time, each independently notifying you at different times. For instance, I’ll usually set a reminder to go some exercise in the evenings, along with writing a certain word amount every day. This could also be used to keep tabs on days without smoking, getting a certain amount of exercise, or common chores like watering plants.
However, what I really like about this app is its visual presentation. Reviews may throw around the phrase “simple” a lot, but Good Habits has cornered the market on a minimal look without sacrificing form or function. Nothing is excessive and everything is clean: it does not feel like this is a developer’s first attempt at an app, nor does it have an over-ambitious interface that gets in the way of how it works. You set up your goals, set up your times, and they perform exactly how you’d expect them to.
Instead of cluttering things with tags, lists, photos, posting things to social media or any number of extra and needless features, this is something that’s surprisingly zen. It’s almost surreal to find and app that does just what it needs to do and is content to stay out of your way otherwise.
The app also allows you to “pause” certain habits in order to keep from breaking the chain. This is great for things like vacations, where you might not be home to water those plants. There are also two numbers in the default view (right screenshot above) which will tell you your current chain (left) and your longest chain (right). This is great for seeing exactly how long you’ve been at something, and how much progress you’ve made.
Ultimately, this app performs everything it needs to and earns extra points by being free, open-source and having a simple-yet-effective presentation. I’m tired of organizational apps that become convoluted when something more to-the-point is needed, even if it has to do it on its own. I’d easily buy an entire suite of tools that were designed as well as Good Habits is, but for now, I’ll be happy with this.
So if you’re looking at your resolutions for 2013 and need an extra kick in the pants, it won’t hurt to try out Good Habits; at best, you’ll have a nice system to help achieve your goals, and at worst you’ll have a nice reminder of your procrastination. You can find a download link below.