Now that the New Year has begun, it’s the perfect time to set some goals. But if you don’t keep track of all the great things you’re accomplishing this year, how will you know if you’re really improving?
Beyond setting goals to make positive changes in your life, and even beyond working at those goals, a big part of making progress is measuring it.
When you can look back and see how your baby steps have led to giant leaps, you can find trends in your workflow, see areas to improve, and even just congratulate yourself on your achievements. This week’s Product Hunt finds will help you do just that.
Manage and track your habits
Most people are naturally competitive, so one of the things that motivates us most is the gamify method. Just by taking something we do everyday and making it a game, it becomes more fun.
Habit List gamifies your goals and lets you track them in streaks of consistency. Next to each goal is a circle with a number showing the days in your streak in green, red or gray: green is good, red is bad, and gray is neutral, not make-or-break stuff.
By tracking how many days you’ve gone running, for example, and easily seeing that number at a glance, you’re less likely to break your streak for a silly reason like being in the middle of a Downton Abbey marathon. (Although “silly” is relative, of course.) You can even view your streaks on a calendar or a graph to see your success and completion rate for the month. And on a daily basis, the app shows you your list of to-dos in order of priority and your amount of overall daily progress as a percentage.
Habit List’s strength is in its clean design and ease of use. These factors, combined with the app’s custom push notifications, make it a habit you’ll get used to in no time.
You can download Habit List for free on iPhone.
For those tasks you hate remembering
Some of the most annoying to-dos are the monthly and annual ones. If you’re able to remember them at all, they sneak up on you in the midst of all your other daily tasks and end up getting delayed until your engine’s oil light has been on for weeks and your car guy gives you that look of total disappointment when you finally bring it in.
Upkeep helps you keep track of those annoying tasks with reminders you can set in advance.
The app comes pre-filled with hundreds of built-in tasks, which is perfect for remembering those things that you may not even realize you’re forgetting, like changing your air filters or checking your tire pressure. The tasks are broken down into Home, Auto, and Personal categories, and some of them even have how-to videos.
The best time to set a reminder for these occasional tasks is the very moment you’re doing them. So, if you just reversed the direction of all your fans for winter, set a reminder to change them back in the spring. Upkeep will pop up with a reminder when it’s time to take care of your saved task with a set time and difficulty level for the job, so you can plan your time accordingly.
You can download Upkeep for free on your iPhone. It’s a $1.99 upgrade to include custom tasks.
Manage time on your smartphone
The next time you’re out to dinner or waiting in line somewhere, look around at how many people’s faces are illuminated by the glow of their phones. Sure, there are more and more apps out there bringing us new ways to connect and more reasons to be on our phones — heck, we’ve talked about a lot of them just in the past few months of this column — but if we pause for a moment of New Year reflection, I think we can all admit that we could afford a cut in our smartphone screen time for the sake of occasionally immersing ourselves in our surroundings. Not to get all Louis C.K., but a little boredom never killed anyone.
Moment is an iPhone/iPad app that lets you track your daily screen time by running in the background of your mobile device and measuring how much you’re using it in minutes. Some of us actually need to look at our phones more than others for work and other responsibilities, which is why you set your own limits, and your bar for the day fills up the more you use your phone or tablet.
You can set an alert to go off when you go over your limit, or even to just remind you when you’ve used your device for a set amount of time. That way you can avoid getting caught in an accidental 15-minute Instagram scroll without noticing.
There’s also a family function for you to track and set limits on your family’s devices. Even better (for you, not your teenager), you can set up screen-free time when you want everyone to engage in a little face-to-face bonding.
Whether you want to spend this year focusing more on work, family, or both, this is a non-invasive way to cut down time spent on your biggest distraction.
Everyday Hustlin’ Calendar
The whole year on one page
This is not to replace your day planner or your daily to-do list, but there’s something so all-encompassing about looking at your entire year, right in front of you on one page, with this Year of Hustle calendar.
We won’t get into the science of time right now, but it is a bit difficult for us mere humans to envision time beyond the seven-day week. We get caught up in our work life and our home life and catch ourselves saying things like, “This week went by so fast,” or “This has been the longest month of my life.” So much of how we perceive time is dictated by emotion, so it’s nice to get a grip on long-term deadlines and upcoming events, all in one glance.
The idea came from the folks at Busy Building Things, a motivational product design company. With an entire year on one poster, beginning-of-the-month deadlines won’t sneak up on you with the next page. You can track your daily, weekly and monthly goals and see your progress all in one place. Also, you get to see your summer vacation all the time, which is bound to give you some motivation even in the middle of a blustery winter.
Since it does hold your entire year, this poster is pretty large — 36 by 24 inches. Each month is held entirely on one row with holidays and weekends marked and an icon showing you when Daylight Savings Time starts and ends. Seeing months laid out it in a single row can make them feel kind of small, short even. But to be honest, it really shakes up typical calendars that are designed in accordance with the work week and can help you think about time (and what you can do with it) in a whole new way.
Honorable Mention: The Linear Calendar from Unfiber puts your entire year on one narrow row of paper, so you can see your whole year on one timeline. Although it requires a lot of space, it’s another fun way to view your year. Check out the free download here.
Just For Fun: Prioritab
Manage tasks in a new tab
Still in its early stages, Prioritab is already an intuitive reminder of your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. With each new tab you open in Google Chrome, a graphic pops up showing the tasks you’ve listed and the percentage of the day and month that’s already passed, in addition to the current date and time.
Prioritab is a little thing that you may forget you have until you pop open a new tab. It’s great motivation to ditch those various slips of paper with your daily to-dos and instead put them in a place that lives where you may work already — the Internet.
You can install Prioritab for free on Chrome.
Have you tried any of these products? We’d love to hear if they’re helping you improve your habits and reach your goals for the New Year!