Apps to help you be a better person in 2019

We all go into the new year with noble ambitions of being a better person. However, it’s difficult to go alone. You need someone or something to hold you accountable and keep you motivated. Actual real-life friends and family are the best for this, but it helps to have the data to back up your progress. That goes doubly if you don’t have supportive people in your life, or if you’re terrible influences on each other.

Here are some apps that can help you reach your goals.

Develop good habits

Goals for the new year don’t have to be huge. You don’t have to suddenly lose 20kgs and run a marathon, or save up a house deposit in 18 months. Sometimes the little goals are the ones that matter most; like saying something nice to a stranger every day, holding in that passive aggressive comment about a slow walker, going to the gym a certain number of times a week, or just being on time to things more. Done: A Simple Habit Tracker lets you track multiple habits that you want to form (three for free, and then more with the paid premium version). Every time you do or don’t do something, you get to record it and track how you’re going; triggering that little hit of dopamine when you get it done, and that stab of shame when you miss a target.

Done makes it easy to track habits you want to build or lose.

If you want something more gamified, Habitca (iOS | Android) gives you points for doing your tasks. It’s a somewhat lame RPG, but you can build in rewards, complete quests, and generally make getting the little things done seem more epic.

Be better with money

Money and budgets are boring until you really need them. Getting on top of your finances and sticking to set budgets can help you worry less, and live more comfortably within your means. GoodBudget (iOS | Android) is an extremely boring app, that I credit for vastly improving my family’s financial situation to the point where we could buy a nicer place. The envelope system it encourages is simple, and requires you to manually put in everything you purchase. But it forces you to think about every dollar you spend and how.

We have it set to sync between my and my wife’s phones, with weekly allotments for separate personal envelopes, a shared grocery envelope, an electricity envelope (loaded weekly with what we’ve budgeted for electricity so we can take any unexpected extra charges out of a different envelope if needed), and transportation. Then we have annual envelopes for medical expenses and home improvement, with aspirational envelopes for travel and dining out where any extra savings can be put.

Budgeting is boring, but so important.

At the start you need to sit down and work out how much money you have coming in regularly, how much money you have to spend and when, how much you want to save, and then break all of that down to weekly budgets. But, once you’ve survived the tedium of that experience, the app can be life changing.

Sleep better

Is there a person alive who thinks they get enough sleep? Probably, and deep down you are really jealous of them. Sleep is one of those annoying things that’s hard to fix, because you either need to improve your routine to allow more time to sleep (which no one wants to do), or you can’t get enough data to work out what is disturbing your sleep.

If your problem is the former, setting a sleep reminder on your phone and then sticking to it is annoyingly helpful. Just don’t go back in time and tell your childhood self that you’ve given yourself a bedtime and that it’s wonderful.

If the issue is the latter, there are plenty of apps and devices waiting to tell you what’s wrong. The Pillow Automatic Sleep Tracker does the usual stuff like waking you gradually at the optimum time in your sleep cycle, and analyses your sleep so you can see how much time you spent awake or having disturbed sleep. But what makes Pillow stand out is that it gives you tips on how to sleep better, records the sounds you make while you’re asleep (are you ready to know that you snore and say terrifying things in your dreams?) and plays sleep sounds and white noise if that helps you. You can also write notes about when you had your last coffee, when you stopped watching TV, and other things if you want to do a proper challenge to see what helps or hinders you. It also looks at your sleeping patterns and works out what your ideal bed time would be, which is just nifty.

However, with any resolution you make, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to fail and need help. A couple of stumbles on the road to becoming a better person are expected, so instead of beating yourself up about that bag of chips, or that extra late night, just enjoy it and then try again tomorrow. One misstep doesn’t ruin everything.

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