My Habit Trackers Didn’t Work, Until I Stopped Using Them

Last year I started wanting to develop new positive habits and after not being very successful about it on my own, I decided to go ahead and try using a habit tracking app. It’s worth noting here that I’m an Android user (on Blackberry), so some of the apps I’m looking at may not be available on iOS.

I’d used the Zombies! Run app before, which gamifies your running sessions, and that aspect of building up a habit really appealed to me. To that end, I went with the gamey-est habit tracker I could find, Habitica.

 

Habitica

This one is probably the gamey-est habit tracker out there. You have a character who you can customise and upgrade, earn experience to level them up and rewards for achieving targets and lose HP (and sometimes even a level) when you miss targets.

Initially this one appealed to me a lot, however there is a lot of setting up to do and it started to weary me. Maybe I should have set myself a goal of getting accustomed to this habit tracker? Regardless, I found the abundance of options and set up process to be a bit overwhelming and so it wasn’t long until I abandoned it.

The take away lesson is that you need to really, REALLY be into the whole character customisation thing for this tracker to work for you, otherwise it starts feeling more like an impediment to developing good habits rather than a motivator.

There’s also the social aspect as a potential motivator (or demotivator depending on your personality) and you get to take quests and battle boss monsters, so if that’s your thing, you might be more inclined to tackle your daily goals so that you aren’t letting your party/team down, or losing to a boss.

Other trackers

I tried some others, but none of them really took. I would use the habit tracking app for a week or so and then lose interest in updating it. Some tried to pack too much into the app and some felt too restricted in their interfaces and options. This led to a period of several months when I wasn’t interested in using a habit tracker to help me develop good habits any more.

Enter Daylio

Daylio

This app is not a habit tracker, but a mood tracker.

 

mood_tracker

Daylio has a very simple and friendly interface. You tell it what time each day it should prompt you for your mood and then it’s pretty much ready to go as the default options don’t even need changing. Selecting your mood from the options is as simple as choosing one of the smiley face options that pops up with your reminder and from there you can choose what activities you did that day that made you feel that way. There is additionally the option to record a snippet of text for that entry, but I didn’t use this.

As I got used to Daylio, I started customising the options, like the moods and the activities I could have been doing each day, which I found to be simple and easy.

After a while of using this app, I realised it had accomplished one thing that the habit tracking apps had not; it helped me develop a daily habit!

Granted, the daily habit was updating my mood on Daylio, but it was the breakthrough that I needed to get serious about developing habits. I kept up with using Daylio for about two and a half months before I took the next step and moved onto a habit tracker, I just needed a really simple one that I could set up and maintain with as few touches as possible each day, like Daylio.

Streaks

streaks

This is the habit tracking app I’ve been using since. It’s light on features and has a very simple interface. When adding a new goal, you simply input the text of what you want to do and set when your reminder should show (if you want one) and that’s it.

It is a daily tracker, so if you have a different interval for your goals you’re a bit out of luck. But if you are starting out as someone who has been resistant to using habit tracker apps (like me), the simplicity can be exactly what you need to get and stay on track.

Using Streaks, I was able to keep myself to a daily goal of writing 1000 words a day for 62 days straight. This was quite a challenge for me to begin with, but now I feel like I can rattle off that many words in half an hour if I have a clear idea of what I’m going to write.

I’ve now reached the point where the limitations of Streaks are a hindrance to developing further habits and I’m considering moving over to HabitBull.

HabitBull

HabitBull was one of the apps I tried before and I couldn’t get into, so why would I want to go back to using it?

habit_bull

One of the reasons I didn’t want to keep using it before was because I was bothered by the motivational images that show up on the progress tracking screen. I felt like they took up too much space and distracted from the actual purpose of tracking your habits. However, since re-downloading the app, I’ve discovered that these images can be disabled in the settings screen, which I have done as well as disabling the social features, so it already seems like a smoother experience than before.

I’ll have to go on using it and see how things develop, blogging here for instance is one of my goals and I am trying to fit in three posts a week now. I hope that my 4 “rest” days will give me the time and freedom to bring my thoughts together and make the posts I publish more valuable and useful to other people.

Goodbye for now and happy tracking!

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