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Ask Engadget: What apps can help with my New Year's resolutions?

Amber Bouman
Community Content Editor
Cn0ra via Getty Images

This week's question asks about apps that can help break bad habits and keep New Years resolutions going. Weigh in with your advice in the comments -- and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

What smartphone apps will help me actually stick to my New Year's resolutions?

Kris Naudus

Kris Naudus
Buyer's Guide Editor

A few years ago I decided I need to journal more, so I downloaded the "Journey" app on my phone. It's set to ping me at 10pm every day, ensuring that I don't forget to write something down. Of course, that doesn't stop me from just swiping away the notification. But, when I do open the app, it's easy enough to write a few sentences and tag the post, as well as clicking on my mood for the day. It's very low pressure, which tends to help in keeping resolutions going.

Amber Bouman

Amber Bouman
Community Content Editor

I've actually used a few different habit-tracking apps to try and establish better routines, be it a more consistent bedtime or exercise regimen, or making sure I drank enough water throughout the day. One of the apps I really enjoyed was Productive, which worked for me because I could schedule habits that I wanted to do daily, weekly or monthly. It also kept metrics on how often I met my goal. Plus I found the UI pleasing, which made me more likely to use it.

I've also used the Habit List app, which uses badges and colored streaks to encourage you. However, the scheduling feature on that didn't work as fluidly for me and it's only available on iOS. And I've used Strides as well, which offers some really good data on how well you're meeting your goals, but the UI isn't as fun as the others and again, it's iOS only.

One bit of advice I will add, however, is not to try more than one of these apps at once. I thought I'd enjoy playing around with multiple options but the constant notifications made me feel overwhelmed and less likely to keep my good habits. I'd also recommend only adding one or two habits at a time to the app of your choice, and then committing to additional resolutions after you've already mastered the first few.

Devindra Hardawar

Devindra Hardawar
Senior Editor

Next year, I'm hoping to spend a lot less time staring at my phone's screen. I've tried a few apps dedicated to screen time tracking, but for the longest time, most of the iOS options were meant for parents who wanted to wrangle their kids' device usage.

Over the past few months, I've started using Apple's Screen Time feature built into iOS, and it's simply a revelation. It makes it easy to set daily time limits across apps, and it provides a helpful breakdown of how much time you're wasting on them as well. Now, I get a clear warning whenever I start mindlessly browsing Twitter for too long. Screen Time is like a good friend who's always around to remind you, "Hey, there's more to life than flame wars."