App Review: Habit Factor

Goals and habits, habits and goals: We all have goals, as well as some habits we’d like to change, and very often, the two are connected. If your goal is to keep all your teeth, or just to avoid another scolding from your dentist (or is that just me?), you’ll want to adopt the habit of flossing. A goal is a specific end point that you’re aiming for; a habit is what you do again and again. The Habit Factor lets you track both. Habits are notoriously difficult to change, which in turn makes some goals harder to reach, but when you hold yourself accountable on a regular basis, you might do better. The Android phone is perfect for this, because you’ve always got it with you, and it just takes a couple of taps on the screen to log your activities.

Setting up habits and goals: Getting set up on this app is easy if you know what goals and habits you want to track. When you set up your goal, you can add a motivational photo, a note about your reason for adopting the goal—nice to be able to return to when you need a kick in the pants—a start date and a projected completion date. You can also create an association between the goal and some of the habits that you’re tracking. For habits, you say which days each week you plan to do the activity and for how long, note your reasons, and put in a start and end date—which can be “Infinity” if you choose.

Tracking your progress: The tracking feature is strongest for habits. Under the Track tab, there’s a list of your positive habits; tap each one that you’ve completed for the day, add a note if you want to, and you’re done. Technically, the checklist format means you can only track positive habits; if your goal was to quit smoking, the associated habit would need a positive spin, like “Make it all day without smoking,” or “Chew nicotine gum when I feel the urge to smoke.” That’s probably a useful approach anyway. For goals, tracking is a bit more manual, though not complex; you use a slider to indicate what percentage of the way you’ve traveled toward attaining your goal. How you determine that is up to you. If you like, the app will generate charts showing your progress, or a calendar showing all the days on which you’ve checked off a given habit, indicating how long a “streak” you’ve managed to attain.

Pro vs. Lite: This is one app where you’ll want the Pro version if you’re serious about using it—but the Lite version is a great way to test out its features before committing. Lite gives you the ability to track just one active goal and three active habits, and doesn’t provide any backup/restore functionality.

My recommendation: I’ve seen a few other apps that let you track habits; what appeals to me about this one is the way it lets you tie those habits to larger goals, and remind yourself of your motivations for pursuing them. If the concept appeals, the app is definitely worth a look.

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