How are your New Year's Resolutions going? Mock these annual promises we make with ourselves as you wish; 45 percent of Americans usually make them. Sadly, we aren't great at keep them. After the first week, 15 percent of us will have dropped off. (I tend to be in that group so if you are still solid on your resolution at the time this is published, you are better off then me.) After a month, 36 percent will have dropped off. After six months, over 60 percent (Source: University of Scranton, Journal of Psychology.) [Ok, now I am curious who these 40 percent are that are still true to their resolutions in October.]
The good news is that there are a lot of tools and apps that can help with some of the most common New Year's resolutions. I would like to introduce you to some of my favorites.
Resolution: Get organized
We all make to-do lists -- on sticky notes, on the backs of envelopes, on dry-erase boards. We make them, get halfway through them, and forget them. If only there were a tool that would help keep us on task. Trello is not going to force you to complete your to-do list (I'll let you know when something comes along that actually holds your feet to a virtual fire). Where Trello's genius lies is in the way it helps make you smarter about the way you go about accomplishing your tasks. For example, it lets you create a structure for steps to completion. Have you started it? Are you waiting on input from someone else? You can create a way to illustrate that. In a Pinterest-like format, Trello is the to-do list that lets you decide how you want to structure it, using a structure concept of cards and columns. Take a look at a to-do list I created below. Each card can be moved from column to column to signify where it is in the process. This is one you have to play with to get just how powerful it can be.
Trello - To-do list
Resolution: Stay more focused at work
When was the last time you decided to take a quick afternoon break by checking in on Facebook and the next thing you knew, it was dark outside? If you want to find out exactly how much time you spent down the rabbit hole, get RescueTime -- it lets you can track that on a daily basis. Take a look at my dashboard for the day (Unfortunately, if you want to know how much time you spent looking in the refrigerator and rummaging in your cabinets for 70 percent dark chocolate, there is still no app for that):
RescueTime lets you track your productivity.
Fifty-three percent of my time was spent working on emailing. (Bad, but I will use an upcoming daughter's bat mitzvah as an excuse). Five percent was spent on design & composition (this blog post!). Hopefully, by the time I am done writing I will have increased that.
Resolution: Eat better (The big one!)
Do you think of Pinterest as just a place to search for craft projects that will outclass other moms at your kids' preschool? Not so! For me, Pinterest is my secret weapon in the battle to eat better. My challenge is to make things that are "good for you" somehow seem more enticing than cheese and chocolate. Every once in a while, I find something that fits the bill, but then I promptly forget it.
Pinterest solves that problem by helping me instantly save recipe ideas along with mouth-watering photos that inspire me to eat my vegetables. Take a look at how I used Pinterest to motivate me to use my Spiralizer (a marvelous toy that magically makes vegetables look like pasta!). Take a look at a search I just did for Spiralizer recipes. Pinterest lets me set them up as a board to save all these lovely ideas!
Pinterest can help you make better eating choices
Resolution: Move more
Solution: FitBit One
How many steps have you taken today? I have been bit of a sloth today and have only taken 2,674 steps. Yesterday,though, I took 10,481 steps. How do I know? My Fitbit One keeps me well informed. It is hard to run and hide when you have a device on you that can tell you at any given moment how much you have moved. PS. Putting the blog post aside to go for a walk!
Resolution: Spend less time in traffic
If you have a smartphone and ever find yourself in traffic (here in DC it is as inevitable as death and taxes), you should know about and be using Waze. What is the difference between Waze
and most other GPS programs? It tells you WHY is traffic going slowly and how long will it be backed up. It also recalculates your route based on traffic. So look at the image below. Looks like traffic is slow on 270. Not such a shock at 6:06 PM but notice, there is an accident. That is good real time information.
Waze helps you spend less time in traffic.
One caveat I will add is that it keeps your phone more active when in use and therefore uses a lot of battery power, so it is best not to use it for long trips unless you can plug your phone in to recharge.
Resolution: Keep computer more secure
Who hasn't been a bit aghast about all of the data breaches in the last year? Some of those were the kind of breaches that can't be avoided, but there are many others types that can be stopped just by taking a few precautions.
For most of us, our passwords are not as secure as they could be since -- let's face it -- who can remember those super-secure passwords with all the randomized special characters and numbers?
My answer to that problem is LastPass. LastPass is basically a repository for all of
your passwords. Because it is cloud based it can be accessed from any computer (after going past the master password you set up). You can use a browser extension to create a unique and secure password for every website you use. It became my go-to tool in 2014, after the heart bleed bug made it necessary to change all my passwords, and I hope it will be one of your favorite new tools in 2015!
The LastPass interface. Their pitch is: This is the "last password you have to remember."
What about you? What apps or online tools have you found that help you keep your New Year's Resolutions? I would love to hear in comments below.
Erika Dickstein is a Web Strategist located in the DC metro area. She specializes in working with small businesses on creating strategic goal-oriented websites. You can connect with her at www.springinsight.com.