It’s that time of year again, when Internet-dwelling humans solemnly swear to be better people—to go outside more, save money, and learn Mandarin.
Unfortunately, research predicts that most people will abandon their 2014 New Year’s resolutions, instead spending their free time laughing Beavis and Butthead-style at videos of cats pushing over babies.
Don’t succumb to this fate. Try out these three apps to stick to your goals.
Most self-improvement apps are overambitious and convoluted. Lift, on the other hand, offers a simplified, tailored approach to your goals. Users can subscribe to multiple-step regimes that help you achieve everything from small life improvements (like going to sleep by midnight), to more lofty ideals (like finding happiness). You’re encouraged to check in each time you complete a step for a goal. The idea is that users will create a supportive community, encouraging others to stay disciplined by offering “props” for check-ins. The app tracks your habits in relation to your goal, sending reminders (if you want them), and charting your progress. The social aspect of Lift is meant to encourage its participants (though my one complaint is that I’m forced to read a stream of grating humblebrags every time I open the app).
Overall, Lift’s main strength is its vast number of programs: Read for 30 minutes, train for a 5K marathon, meditate, floss—your possibilities to become a less useless human being are endless.
Want to travel more? Join a gym? Become a competitive acrobat player? You need money to do that. Mint helps you save cash by automatically categorizing your spending habits into areas like “public transportation,” “alcohol and bars,” and “groceries.” You can then set budgets for each area, and arrange for email or push notifications to be sent any time you exceed your limit for a certain category. It’s sort of like inviting your helicopter parent to live in your inbox, except instead of being perpetually shamed for “wasting your life away” drinking with friends, you’re sent a polite notification any time you’ve “Exceeded your budget for Alcohol & Bars.” It’s not the best feeling to be constantly reminded that you are broke, but knowing is half the battle.
Mint also helps you create personalized plans to save for things you want to buy and pay off loans, automatically calculating the amount per month you need to put aside to have what you need by a certain deadline. It’s a much more effective method than simply choosing not to order dessert at dinner, which was my preferred method of budgeting until Mint came along.
Free on Android, iOS, and Windows.
One of the first steps to accomplishing your goals is keeping track of the scattered odds and ends of your life. You can’t be a better networker if you keep loosing business cards, you can’t remember birthdays if they’re scattered across various online calendars—the list goes on. Evernote is a centralized organizational beast of an app that makes boring stuff like chores and to-do lists as painless as possible. Its list of features is vast, but some of my personal favorites are its seamless cross-device syncing, its ability to convert photos of text into PDFs, the option to Skitch-out anything to your heart’s desire, and a new tool that allows you to digitally store business cards by taking a quick snapshot. There’s also an entire marketplace of Evernote apps dedicated to streamlining specific areas of your life: From improved grocery lists to self-generating flashcards, it’s all there at your fingertips.