The Positive Pensive

An anxious pessimist tries to find the positive
Filling in a calendar with a pencil
Apps Personal Uncategorized

Cracking the code to forming good habits

This year I steered clear of giving myself over-ambitious new year’s resolutions – instead, I focused on how I could form good habits I’d actually stick to.

See, the start of a new year presents this gorgeous clean slate. Even though we could make a change in our lives literally any day we want, there’s just something so motivating about January 1st after the indulgences of Christmas.

Yet, as most of us know, that motivation soon wears off. So this year, rather than setting myself targets of finally getting fit (too abstract), or learning a complicated song beyond my capability on piano (too ambitious), I decided to take it right back to basics.

I wanted to see whether I could actually form good habits. I’m awesome at forming bad habits:

  • Snoozing the alarm 8 times every morning (seriously)
  • Eating junk food to celebrate a good day
  • Eating junk food to mourn a bad day
  • Putting off sending tricky emails
  • Forgetting to text back

And so it goes on. So, with 26 years now on this earth, and many resolutions unfulfilled, it seemed like as good a time as any to try something new.

Time to make it happen

On January 1st 2019 I trawled the app store. For all the paper-worship I do, I knew I needed something easy that I wouldn’t lose – and since my phone’s on me all the time, an app seemed like the best option.

Anyone who’s had similar ideas to me will know that searching the Productivity section of any app store is like going down a rabbit hole. There are so many to choose from. Ones that let you take pictures, keep digital journals, write yourself notes, sync up with calendars, integrate with smart watches and it’s all great and everything but MY GOD. I just needed something simple.  

Enter: Loop – Habit Tracker.
(Soz Apple fans, I believe it’s an Android-only option… for once!)

I wanted to track multiple habits and this seemed like just the ticket. Enough going on to justify a download, but not too much that it became difficult to use. I decided on my habits:

  • Play piano 3x a week (something creative)
  • Walk 3x a week (something active)
  • Do a face mask 2x a week (something to encourage self-care)

Nothing too outrageous, all very realistic.

The Home screen of the Loop app

Data for days

Creating a habit is easy enough. Just give it a name, specify a colour (this really appeals to me for some reason 😂), the frequency and whether you’d like a reminder. I opted to leave out reminders because I find I check the app often enough and tend to swipe away reminders and forget anyway.

As a bit of a data nerd, I like all the different analytics you get with the app: the strength of your habit, the days you most frequently carry out the habit, your best streak, and so on. The only thing I wish it could do was compare all the habits together on one graph – like I said, data nerd.

Creating a habit within the Loop app  - the menu is nice and simple

Success!

The good news is the app seems to have helped me stay on track. I get a little sense of satisfaction on adding a tick to one of my habits, which makes me more likely to keep doing it. Of course, it’s all stuff I WANT to do anyway, but we all know that our motivation can wane from one day to the next.

I’d encourage anyone looking for a simple tracking app to give Loop a go. My other half uses it to track when he’s completed his physiotherapy exercises, but you could also use it for tracking medication, chores, healthy eating or fitness goals.

The best advice I have – whether you choose to give Loop a go or not – is to keep the habit simple and set a realistic frequency. As you find your rhythm you might feel comfy adding another habit – just this morning I added yoga – I’ll see how I get on!

Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once and the habit should make you happy! Give it a go – or tell me what apps you use to keep you on track.

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