Jerry Seinfeld has a simple strategy for being more productive: don’t break the chain. After I heard him mention this in an interview (possibly with Alec Baldwin, I can’t remember) I got more interested in tracking habits. Now it’s easier than ever for you to form a strong chain of life-changing habits every day thanks to a bunch of really great smartphone and smartwatch apps.
Along with Evernote, Wunderlist and Fantastical, a habit tracking app rounds out my suite of essential iPhone productivity apps. They all track different things for me. Evernote tracks my knowledge, Wunderlist tracks my todo list, Fantastical tracks my reminders and calendar events and, starting today, Momentum tracks my habits. Prior to Momentum I was using another habit tracking app on this list but after putting this list together and doing all the research and seeing what each app has to offer, Momentum just looks unbeatable for me. I want something that works across all my devices — not just on my iPhone or Apple Watch — so that’s a big deal for me. And the no-nonsense design, the ability to mark things off using notifications and the Today widget are all excellent as well. Let me know what app you’re going to go with and why in the comments below!
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Momentum is the most polished, fully-featured habit tracker I’ve ever come across. It syncs between all your Apple devices (iPhone, Watch, Mac), has a useful and unique trends feature which helps you understand when you are most productive, lets you add notes for context and has a skip function that will let you skip habits (for vacations or sick days) without breaking streaks. I also love the amazing Today view widget for your iPhone.
Habitica has a totally different and unique way to motivate you to form better habits: it turns your life into a game. Just like some of your favorite iOS games, you’ll earn gold for your accomplishments which can be used to upgrade your character. There’s a multiplayer mode (you’re inaction can hurt your friends), you can unlock extra content and there’s even a health meter just like your favorite retro video games. This is the best way to add some fun to your habit and goal tracking.
HabitClock is an app that aims to help you have a better, more productive morning routine. It’s literally a mashup between an alarm clock and a habit tracker. When you wake up, your morning routine starts (packed with all the tasks/habits you’ve told it you’d like to accomplish each day). From exercising, to eating right, to remembering to brush your teeth, to drinking water, to reading your Bible to taking some time to plan your day to whatever else you might want to do, this is the app for creating better morning habits.
Productive is another habit tracker app for iPhone that covers the basics: inputing habits, checking off completed items, seeing your habit history, habit reminders and all the stuff you’d expect from a good habit tracker. As a person used to using the much simpler STREAKS app I have to say I do like the notes feature but the stand-out feature in my mind is the ability to cut through the clutter to see only the habits that are important based on the time of day. Well that and the really, truly, absolutely gorgeous interface.
Sessions basically does what other habit tracking apps do but with a useful, unique twist: pledging. With Sessions you declare your habits: “I want to pray for 10 minutes every day.” But, unlike other habit forming apps, Sessions tracks your time in order to help you knock an item off your list and that could be just the key to helping you actually get stuff done. I like the fact that this app has some teeth; you’ve got to put in the time and give an activity your entire focus to make it count and that is brilliant.
RescueTime has been around for a long while now but I have to mention here (even though this list is really focused on the best NEW habit tracking apps) because it’s just so good at what it does. RescueTime focuses more on the tracking and analytical side of forming habits by showing you what you spend your time on. You don’t have to input any habits you want to track or do any manual inputting; with ResuceTime it’s all done for you in the background while you work. They say knowledge is power and realizing what activities you’re sinking your time into based on cold, hard, personalized facts is hyper-motivational.
STREAKS is a very simple habit tracking app and that is it’s main feature. You can track up to 6 (and only 6) daily habits. I’ve been using STREAKS for several months now and I find that keeping things limited to 6 has forced me to prioritize accomplishing what I consider to be my most important habits. STREAKS is well-crafted and customizable in ways that other habit tracking apps aren’t; you can change the app’s main color and can add custom icons to your habits. And the interface is different as well: hold down a habit to complete it for the day and tap it to see your history.
Habit List is another feature-packed habit tracker similar to Momentum and Productive above which has some subtle but awesome tweaks to the habit tracking formula. For instance, instead of just showing you how many days you’ve accomplished something it also shows you how many days you haven’t in the form of a negative number which is really cool (“Oh man, I’ve really neglected that…”). It also only shows you things that are due today to help keep you focused and has more flexible tracking: specific days, non-specific days or intervals. I also really like the clean white interface with it’s pops of color.
Balanced isn’t all that different from other apps listed here in terms of functionality but it very different in terms of form. The interface is totally different than what you’ll find on other habit trackers and for some people this might make all the difference. See a list of habits awaiting your attention (organized by what’s most important at any given time) and swipe to mark them done (and get a cool feel-good animation each time you do). There are more than 50 suggested activities as well to help you jump start your good habit lifestyle.
PiggyJar is a totally different kind of habit tracking app. It’s like a digital swear jar, but for anything. Want to stop drinking coffee? Every time you do you’ll put some money in the “Stop Drinking Coffee” jar. You can take that concept and apply it to any habit you want to break. And the coolest part is that it works with your friends or co-workers so everyone can contribute (and keep each other accountable) while being able to go out and have some fun together once you break into the jar you’ve been contributing too.