Breaking Habits

3 Free Apps for Breaking Habits — or Starting Good Ones

What do you want most out of life?  Will success require breaking habits that hold you back? Is breaking habits something you struggle with?  We’ll often joke that there’s a smartphone app available out there to help you with nearly anything you could ever think of, but when it comes to breaking habits you might just be willing to try anything.  Here are 3 free apps that will help with breaking habits, as well as with starting good ones!

Way of Life by Lars p Arendt

If you use any app to manage your habits, use this one.  This app was designed for making and breaking habits with simplicity in mind.  That’s right—it’s not only for breaking habits, but for forming new ones as well, and it’s a surprisingly versatile app.

It works through funding from small scrolling ads appearing at the bottom of the screen.  The interactive walk-through guide takes little to no time, and the app itself is quick and easy to get set up.   The main interface takes a weekly look at your habits.  Adding a habit is easy, and it presents you with the choice of whether you’d like to make or break this particular habit.  (This is a simple innovation that, shockingly, other apps for breaking habits haven’t caught onto.)  The app adds the habit to the weekly schedule, and then you tap that day’s corresponding box.  You can update your progress with green if you persevered with your resolution, or red if you slid back into the habit.  If you miss a day, this isn’t a big deal—you can easily move between days in the interface and update your progress accordingly.

Aside from being very easy to use, Way of Life also supplies you with all kinds of statistical read-outs, should you so choose—more, in fact, than our next app, Habit Maker Habit Breaker.  This helps you visualize how the process of making or breaking habits is coming along.  Without charts, data, and statistics, we can usually fool ourselves into thinking we’re plugging along and make lots of progress when in fact we might be wrong, and so having the proof laid out for you can help you stick with the habit.

Habit Maker Habit Breaker by 2Morrow Mobile

As its name suggests, this app isn’t designed just for breaking habits, but also forming good ones.  To set up a habit, you include first a name for the habit, then whether you want to make or break it, and finally how often you plan on doing it.  This gets a little awkward, because if you’re breaking habits, you need to flip how you’re thinking about it—to not indulge the habit, in this sense, counts as doing the action (this isn’t an issue in other apps we look at).  You can also include daily reminders and motivation for additional inspiration for making or breaking habits.  Marking progress is as easy as tapping a “smiley” or “frowny” face button.  This tallies up your actions.

Like Way of Life, a nice thing about this app is that it gathers statistics, making it easier to visualize the process breaking habits.  You can track your progress as a line graph, a calendar, a table, or a log, letting you look back upon the moments you were feeling particularly strong or when you were struggling.  We’ll say one thing, though: seeing a gradual improvement over time on a line graph of your behavior might give you the extra push you need to stay in control of your habits.  Unfortunately, the more interesting statistical graphs are available only to those who purchase the full version of the app.

Habit Maker Habit Breaker is paid for by small scrolling ads at the bottom of the screen, and when you first install it, it takes a little while to get the app set up.  Numerous typos appear in the instructions, which makes it hard to take the app seriously.  Some people might also find the interface of smiley and frowny faces a little corny.  But its statistics are useful and the way it works is easy enough to grasp.

The Habit Factor by Equilibrium Enterprises, Inc.

It’s not easy to decide where to start with discussing this app.  It doesn’t help, either, that it’s unclear how to get the app started.  You’re first greeted by a page of scrolling quotes from great thinkers about the nature of habits, and there’s nothing to draw your attention to the button that launches the app.  When you first set up the app, you’re confronted with a huge block of text instructions.  There’s no interactive walk-through showing you around.  Moreover, in order to get to the instructions, you have to wade through a lot of unnecessary philosophizing about the meaning of our behavior.  Just show us how to get started breaking habits already!

The interface itself is complicated without needing to be so.  To enter a habit into the system, you need to pick a start date as well as an end date—an arbitrary deadline for breaking your habit.  Whereas the other two apps treat breaking a habit as a one-day-at-a-time thing, the Habit Factor prefers you set a timeline for yourself.  This is fine, except that aside from superhumans, most people who set out to make or break a habit can’t pin their progress to an exact deadline.

The upside is that the app is entirely free of ads.  An additional feature that makes the Habit Factor unique is a tool that lets you categorize your habit as either social, of the mind, the body, or the spirit.

When it comes to tracking your habits, this is easy in the Habit Factor.  Much like Habit Maker Habit Breaker, it’s as simple as tapping a button.  However, the interface lacks the visual scope that Way of Life offers.  Instead, it allows you only to see one day at a time.  You can add comments for each day, but it’s not clear where—or how—you can view these altogether.  This raises the question of what good such a function can do, since the comments you leave may be difficult to retrieve after the fact.


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