Break your bad habits with these clever gadgets and apps
Do people change?
It’s a question usually reserved for those moments we contemplate reuniting with an ex or going back to work with a former boss. But around this time of year, when we realize our New Year’s resolutions are dead in the water just two months in, it’s a question many of us will turn on ourselves.
So, why is it so hard to change? The short answer is that any change requires breaking our habits and that really is incredibly difficult.
Neuroscientists have identified that once a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain basically takes a nap. For the most part this is advantageous because you have mental activity to spare for other things. When you’re trying to break habits, however, it’s a major roadblock. It sends you into default mode, follow your established pattern and perpetuate your bad habit. Soon enough these habits are so deeply ingrained that you often don’t even see them. They become your blind spots and they’re stop you from reaching your goals.
Thankfully, technology has solutions: Gadgets and apps that act like blind spot detection tools for your life. Here we share some of the best out there for some of the most common and all-encompassing goals.
You want to: Be more productive
Infinite scroll is a wonderful thing. Until you’ve spent over an hour reading the status updates of people you haven’t seen in years, killed 30 minutes getting up to date on Instagram and wasted another 30 playing Tetris. Those two hours you just lost was in your blind spot, and now you’ll be eating toast for dinner at the office … again.
Start keeping yourself in check with a simple Chrome extension. Stay Focusd restricts the amount of time you can spend on the websites you know waste your time. It is highly customizable, allowing you to choose entire sites, specific subdomains, specific pages and even specific content types (videos or games) and nominate the number of minutes or hours you are allowed to spend on the site. Don’t let the admittedly uncreative name fool you: StayFocusd is a tool you need. Just promise not to limit your Mashable time.
Momentum is another Chrome extension that will change the game for goal-setters. It serves up a to-do list, daily goal or intention, inspiration photos and quotes and more each and every time you open a new tab. This one somehow manages to spur you into action and soothe your stress all at the same time.
You want to: Find infinite energy
Even if, on the surface, your goals having nothing to do with your health, a little more boxing and a little less breakfast burrito is bound to help you find the energy to reach them.
Wearables are hardly new, but they’ve improved dramatically in the last few years and there are options at every price point. At the higher end, Under Armour’s UA band, released at CES 2016, boasts powerful software that detects when you don’t realize you’re slacking off. It’s unique because it’s so holistic, comparing sleep, fitness, step activity, nutrition and mood to identify where your blind spots may be.
If you’re on a budget, the Misfit Flash is just $29.99 and offers steps and sleep tracking that are accurate enough that you can rely on it. It is linked to an app that, admittedly, won’t come close to something like the UA Band in terms of tracking and reminders, but it will reveal whether your energy blind spot is in your sleeping patterns or your tendency to be a little less active than you thought.
You want to: Discover Beyoncé levels of confidence
First of all, go you. Nailing this goal is a giant leap towards achieving the rest.
Now, know this: To break a habit, you have to make a habit. So the aim of the game here is to find tools that will help you get into the habit of boosting your own self-esteem, rather than bringing it down.
Build Confidence is an app that offers relaxing guided meditations that build confidence. Created by Andrew Johnson, a specialist in relaxation and coping skills, the app is worth a download. Couple it with SleepPhones – the genius headband headphones that eliminate the need to fall asleep with ear buds bothering you – and you’ll wake up ready to take on the world.
MoodKit is an app that keeps you on-track with a thought-checker that helps you identify and manage negative feelings. It also offers a journal, activities and a mood tracker to help you make better habits while beating negative thought patterns. Admittedly, the interface needs work, but the very real benefits make it worth a download nonetheless.
You want to: Tackle your mini-goals
Want to drink more water and less wine? Remember to pack a lunch for work? Kick your Seamless habit? These are the tools for you.
HabitList is perfect for anyone who is glued to his or her phone. Like most of the best things in life, it’s really pretty simple. You enter the habit you want to keep — let’s say it’s four wine-free nights a week — and can opt to select specific days, non-specific days or intervals so that you can schedule as you please.
And when you get to the end of the day and you’re reaching for the red, the app will send you a reminder that you still have an incomplete habit for the day. Cue bottles back in the cupboard and you one step closer to your goal.
If you prefer your reminders to be a little more adorable, the MOTi will be for you for you. MOTi is a little robot that sits on your desk (or wherever you want it to) and whenever you meet your mini goal, you push your MOTi’s button. This prompts a mini celebration from your robotic mate and a display that tells you what’s left to go. Unfortunately, this one’s not available yet, but you can stay up to date at the MOTi website.