How the Sysadmin Stole Christmas.December 20, 2017
With 2018 upon us, New Year’s resolutions are on a lot of people’s minds in the spirit of the “new year, new me” philosophy. Unfortunately for most, making the effort to keep a resolution won’t make it much past January 15th. Here, we’re looking at a variety of smartphone apps designed to help you keep the most commonly broken resolutions. Best of all, they’re all free! After spending a small fortune on Christmas, we can all appreciate something free.
1. Eat Healthy and Keep Fit
January has to be the busiest month for local gyms while everyone has fitness on the brain. On the first of the year, we decide that this is the year we make a big change in our personal health and we’re going to make it happen. We go out to gym and purchase a one-year membership, determined that “if I spent money on it, that’s my push to keep up with it.” While some do end up sticking it out, most revert back to their old couch potato ways.
It’s not enough to plan to be healthier; you need a plan to get there. An app like MyFitnessPal promotes better eating habits while visually showing you how much exercise it takes to burn those calories. The food diary doesn’t just track what you’ve eaten but also provides you with common eating patterns that you might want to avoid. Set your calorie goal, import home recipes to obtain an accurate calorie count and obtain restaurant order recommendations. This app is designed to work with your life and help you make wiser choices when it comes to food and beverage consumption.
If lack of exercise is your weakest link, an app like the "Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout” lets you workout virtually anywhere with even the tightest of schedules. The Smart Workout feature measures your fitness and motivation level and suggests a workout
2. Quit Smoking
One of the most difficult of habits to break is the nicotine habit. Why? Despite government efforts to keep smoking out of restaurants, bars and even your own vehicle, it maintains its status as a social habit. How many of us think of quitting smoking as leaving the inner circle of smoker friends you’ve made at the office? The biggest challenge is to break the social aspect of smoking over the actual addiction to cigarettes.
Take it from someone who quit smoking 3 years ago, I found it easiest to cut out smoking in itself while maintaining my outings with co-workers and friends. It takes a lot of will power to be standing amidst the sweet smell of the smoke and saying no, but once you’ve kicked it, it can actually be enjoyable. Give yourself the choice to only stand outside on a nice day rather than be a hardcore northerner with lungs of steel ready to face negative 35-degree weather for a cigarette.
Quitting smoking takes more than sheer willpower. An app, like LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach acts as a virtual coach and takes into account your quit style; cold turkey or gradually. It tracks smoke consumption and in-turn peak nicotine craving times where you’ll need extra motivation not to reach for your pack. For some, showing progress is all you need to keep going. For others, it’s having access to communicating with other users for an extra confidence boost is what they need. Unfortunately, at this time, this app is only available for iPhone users, but it could get you one step closer to the smoke-free life you’ve been wanting.
3. Reduce Stress, Be Positive
Stress seems like one of those things you can’t avoid. Got kids? Work a full-time job? Stress is bound to find you. While stress is an unavoidable factor in life, how to deal with stress properly and thus increase your positivity is attainable. No one can deny that negativity is toxic. As a result, it can have serious impacts on your personal, social and professional life.
Happify is an app available for both Android and iOS users. It’s comprised of a series of activities and games, designed by a team of 32 people, to help you and teach you to reduce your adrenaline and cortisol levels. Create life-changing habits and build skills surrounding making your life a happier place. The app looks at 5 different aspects of your life and provides you with real ways to achieve goals within each one; reduce stress, feel better about your life in general, eliminate dead-end thinking, boost self-esteem and improve your relationships. With these tools happiness, or at least happier thinking, could be one click away.
4. Save Money, Reduce Debt
Once the hoopla of Christmas is over, we look at our bank accounts in shock at just how much one holiday can take its toll on our financial situation. The reality that our bills still have to get paid sinks in and we make a resolution to be in a better place next time around. But how do we get there? Outside of getting a promotion at work or winning the lottery, your left with managing the same dollar amounts as always.
The idea behind saving money has very little to do with how much you bring in and has everything to do with your managing spending habits. The best way to manage where your money goes is to see exactly where it goes. An app like Mint.com does exactly that. It gains access to your bank account, in a safe environment of course, and tracks where your dollars are going. At the end of month, you can see exactly how much you’ve spent on things like take-out food and knick knacks.
In a nutshell, Mint.com is a money manager. You can set budgeting goals and see your credit score as lenders see it. Having both of those elements in one place gives you a visual aid helping you make better choices in your spending, and perhaps give you the tools you need to finally get that big ticket item you’ve been holding out for.
5. More Time With Family
So, after all this time of telling you that apps can simplify your life and help you reach resolution goals, the biggest deterrent from spending time with your loved ones is unfortunately time spent on your smartphone and tablets. Ever try something as simple as removing the Facebook app from your phone? That was an experiment I had put to the test a little while ago. You don’t have to go to the extreme of deleting your profile and leaving the long-winded explanation to all your “friends” that you just need time away from social media. Social media has its place and as a result, it has its time too.
What happens all too often, and this is becoming more and more clear in today’s youth, we eliminate boredom or reduce otherwise boring situations by turning to our smartphones to entertain us. When I removed all social media apps from my phone and made a dedicated time to access it, I saw just how much time I was spending on it. That’s basically what MyAddictometer does as an app. It logs exactly how much of your day is spent staring down into your phone or tablet. Sometimes, that’s all the visual you need to see where the time is actually going. There’s nothing quite like an app to tell you that you’re spending too much time on apps.
These are just a few options of what apps are available to help you live a healthier, happier and well-balanced life. What’s important is that you find what works for you. So go ahead, have the new you you’ve always wanted in this new year... there's an app for it!