New Year, New You, right? If you want to spend less, fall in love, give up smoking, give up drinking, get more informed, learn a language, get to work on time, start running, get cleverer and live happier we have an app for each of these things.
Guys, we did it – we got through the year! Now it’s time to figure out how we’re going to do it allll over again, only bolder, brawnier or bouncier, and set some new year’s resolutions. But don’t try it alone; habits are hard to change when there’s no one keeping an eye on you.
Now, while mates are handy, it takes 21 days to change a routine – so if it’s rarely far from your side a smartphone makes a great life coach. Whatever your goal, this latest crop of clever apps already have rave user reviews for encouraging, tracking and tricking you into sorting out whatever’s been bugging you of late. Are you ready to kick next year’s backside? Let’s begin.
Get savvier about money: Yolt
Are you in a financial mess? Is the last week before payday a time of great shock, hunger and sadness? You’re not alone – in a banking survey last year, two-thirds of the folks asked didn’t know their bank balance.
Yolt believes that people can only control their money when they understand it, and that’s why they’ve developed this app. Plug in your current account and credit card and they’ll do all the number crunching for you, categorising all your spending so you can see exactly what’s getting wasted where (why yes, there is a dedicated category for coffee… what a coincidence).
If direct debits always catch you out, the most useful feature is the payday countdown. It learns your habits and takes into account all the payments due before then, then gives you the real amount of money you have left to spend after food shops, travelling and bills. Phew.
Start running: One You Couch to 5k
If your big wish for the year to come involves weight loss or improving your fitness levels, you don’t necessarily have to shell out on spenny gym membership – head to the streets!
The only hurdle you might face will be getting started – research found 79% of runners have injured themselves in the last year – but fear not, the key to a happy, healthy running routine lies in preparation.
This NHS-funded, free app will take you from absolute novice to being able to safely run 5k in just 9 weeks – so obey its sensible instructions and you’ll be pounding the pavements non-stop by March. Wearing athleisure everywhere and looking smug? That’s an optional extra.
Learn a language: Memrise
Whether you’ve got far-reaching career goals or just don’t fancy being That Idiot Who Yells In Their Own Language On Holiday, learning a language will grow your noggin as well as your horizons. Yep, MRI-wielding Swedish scientists found that learning a second language made test subjects brains’ bigger.
Memrise divides your lessons into different bite-sized ‘games’ that keep the process fun and challenging. A leaderboard means you can check your progress against other learners, and each lesson you complete helps a little virtual alien amoeba evolve into a grown-up beastie – almost as satisfying as being able to speak your new language.
Grow your lurrrve: 36 Questions
So you want to communicate better with your one and only – or maybe you have someone in your sights for a passionate year ahead? Either way, this app is scientifically proven to increase the warm and fuzzies in your life.
It’s all based on the 36 questions a psychologist devised over 20 years ago to grow communication and understanding between a couple – he actually used it to make 2 strangers fall in love in his laboratory.
Sit down with your special person and this app, make yourselves comfortable and work through its list of throught-provoking, bridge-building questions. By number 36 you might just have found a whole new level of connection. Sigh <3.
Up your focus: Elevate
Granted, this is the time of year that new gym memberships spike – but with modern life’s distraction-packed challenges there are equal benefits to be had from building mental muscle.
Elevate combines over 40 education expert-devised games that analyse, track and improve your writing, listening, speaking, reading and mathematical skills.
It starts out by testing your existing strengths and weaknesses, then creates a bespoke selection of 3 games that help you work on the areas that need improvement. Put in just a few minutes a day, and you’ll start to concentrate, communicate and calculate like a stone cold boss.
Cut down on the booze: DrinkAware
So you’ve had your big NYE blow-out; as the dust settles you’re left achey of head, empty of pocket and rotund of tummy. Time to make a change?
You could go all-in on a Dry January, but fully abstaining seems to lead inevitably towards Blotto February. So why not look at your ingrained quaffing habits and see where you can dial them down instead? DrinkAware’s free app is a judgement-free space for you to log your imbibing and how much it cost (just tick a few boxes and you’re done).
Providing you’re honest with yourself you’ll start to see how many units you’re drinking, the total of liquid calories you’re taking in and how much money is, er, going down the drain. It will gently prompt you to try a drink-free day or 2 – and before you know it you’ll be making better, more informed decisions about ‘tipping the elbow’.
Be more knowledgeable: Blinkist
Do you ever hear folks in the office talking about the big concepts – y’know, management principles, productivity, strategy, economics, that sort of stuff?
If your career plans mean you need to join in on these conversations but the idea of keeping up scares you senseless, Blinkist is your knight in shining armour. It costs just over a quid a week, too.
It’s taken over 2000 non-fiction books covering the likes of science, psychology, politics, history and self-improvement and squished them into condensed audio or text – so you can absorb the essential information in as little as 15 minutes.
Ditch the ciggies: Kwit
The problem with giving up smoking is how frustrated and emotional we can end up getting – not the most solid foundation for staying focused and setting goals. It’s a stinky, unhealthy trap, and you’re stuck in it, feller.
If you’re trying to bust your cravings through gradual elimination, it’s wise to let someone work out what you should do and when. Kwit does this admirably, taking you through the various stages of recovery from your nicotine addiction and logging cheeky cigarettes smoked, virtuous cigarettes rejected, money saved and days since giving up.
Kwit’s success is all down to the app’s use of ‘gamification’ – which is a special scientific word for conning you into better habits through your human need to score more points than the next shaved chimp.
Live more positively: Pacifica
Was this year all a little bit too much for you? You’re not the only one. Thankfully we’re enjoying a greater awareness of how important it is to take care of our mental wellbeing – we look after our bodies every day, so why not do the same for our minds?
If you’re hoping to stay calmer next year and strengthen your outlook on life, there are a bunch of apps that help you develop the little daily habits that will see you through the tougher stuff. Pacifica is a great mix of cognitive behavioural therapy (that’s retraining your brain to view things a different way) and mindfulness that adjusts to fit your goals.
It’ll track your mood and help you spot patterns, assist you in setting up and working towards goals, and talk you through meditations, breathing exercises and self-help lessons – and if you feel like reaching out there’s a whole Pacifica community to support you. Go get ’em, champ.
Get to work on time: Alarmy
If there’s one New Year’s resolution that could change your life for the better, it’s turning up for work on time. Showing up late to the office isn’t a good look; in a recent survey, 82% of those questioned said they percieved this as ‘unprofessional’.
You mean well, but the lure of the snooze button is your undoing – and that needs to change. While we’ve already compiled a rundown of the best alarm sounds on your iPhone, it sounds as if you’re going to need a little extra help – and that’s where Alarmy comes in.
Alarmy won’t let you play fast and loose with the snooze button – it won’t stop buzzing until you do exactly as it commands. That could be taking a picture of your bathroom sink or kettle; shaking the handset until you’ve woken up or completing a maths puzzle. Either way, you’re awake and ready to seize the day.