Thursday, January 05, 2012

#ALGORITHMS: "App Tracks New Year's Resolutions"

It’s only few days into the new year, and if you’re like most people, you are already struggling to keep your New Year’s resolutions. Need help? There’s an app for that.

Procrastinators get a reprieve once a year when New Year's resolutions get reset and their progress since last year gets measured (at least by those who can remember their resolutions from last year). To help you remember your resolutions and to foster incremental improvements (a technique that has been found to help you keep your resolutions) toward fulfilling them throughout the year, a whole genre of applications has appeared.

For instance, if you type "tracker" into the Apple App Store search field, you'll find dozens of free programs for tracking specific goals and achievements as diverse as calorie counting, exercising, bad-habit mitigation and even ovulation. There are also scads of Websites offering free tracking services for all kinds of common goals, such as weight-loss (, as well as ones that allow you to specify your own goals (,, and

Most of these services make you endure advertisements, but to be the first such service with its own iOS application that can set, track and encourage you to keep your resolutions and achieve your life goals year-round, (albeit with a monthly charge of $1 per month, but with no ads).

Charts synchronizing issues being tracked can uncover obstacles to success, such as this user with anger-management issues who is also tracking his spouse's daily mood to see if his temper flare-ups and her moods correlate.

The meTracker service allows users to define their lives not as they are--like on Facebook--but as they would like them to be. It then helps measure and encourage your progress toward those goals. First, you visit the meTracker Website where you can customize the questions in mini-surveys that you will consequently update every day with the smartphone application. For instance, if you are trying to exercise, it will ask you to specify how much time you spent exercising each day, which can subsequently be charted and matched against other considerations, such as the annual pig-outs during holidays.

This approach offers great flexibility to chart progress toward meeting a goal. "Tracking is a proven and recommended tool for keeping people motivated and our site lets users track their own personal goals whatever they are,” said Anthony Philbin, founder and CEO of meTracker.

After users set up an account, they can log in to to define their goals and the daily tasks that need to be performed to achieve them. Thereafter, users update their progress daily with quick answers to their questionnaires. The site shows these answers graphically, charting their progress over time.

"Our site is about helping people understand themselves and their lives in a more general and long-term way," said Philbin. "But this time of year, meTracker is like having your very own New Year’s resolution machine."