8 Habit Tracking Apps For Boosting Your Well-Being In 2023

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Expert Reviewed

Deborah Courtney is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in New York.
Deborah Courtney, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., M.A. Mental Health
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Habits—a routine of behaviors practiced frequently and often subconsciously—can greatly impact the quality of a person’s life. Whether you’re planning to change a behavior, or build a new habit, tracking your progress is one way to stick to your goals long term.

Recent research suggests that people who used an app to track their study habits successfully built new study habits[1]. The more they repeated the new behavior, the more motivated they became to stick to their goals without conceding to distractions.

There are numerous apps out there for tracking habits, and not all are created equal. Below, we provide expert-recommended habit tracking apps that may be worth downloading.

What Is Habit Tracking?

“Habit tracking uses a tracking method to motivate people to do things they want to do,” says Kendall Roach, a licensed professional counselor in Springfield, Missouri and a mental health specialist at Babylon. She explains that this could apply to either stopping bad habits or establishing new, healthy ones.

Habit tracking can be as simple as keeping a journal for jotting down patterns and notes of the times you completed an activity. Or, you can choose one of the numerous habit tracking apps that offers tools like timely reminders and personalized statistics for visualizing your progress.

In general, the following steps can help you build new habits or break old ones:

  1. Identify and set particular goals that are beneficial to your well-being.
  2. Decide on a simple action you can take daily to help you reach your goals.
  3. Include specifics such as when (time) and where (place) you will perform the action. Keep it consistent—aim for the same time, same place, every day.

Research suggests if you consistently keep up with your new habits, within 10 weeks it can become an automatic behavior—and you may perform them even without thinking[2].

Benefits of Habit Tracking

Habit tracking may offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Increasing automaticity: Tracking can encourage you to perform a certain habit repeatedly. Research has shown that habit repetition increases automaticity. If you are building a positive habit, the more you practice the behavior, the easier it becomes to continue the habit without thinking or planning. When a habit becomes automatic, motivational conflicts reduce (such as distracting thoughts)—thus increasing your commitment to whatever habit you’re building.
  • Encouraging mindfulness and self-reflection: Habit tracking helps you be fully present, bringing your attention to the things you do. This gives room to think about your behavior and the reasons behind it. “When we engage in a habit over and over again, we tend not to notice the conditions that promote the behavior,” says Sarvenaz Sepehri, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist in Sacramento, California. “Tracking our habits encourages us to self-reflect on a deeper level,” she explains. “If you’re trying to quit your smoking habit and discover that you’re more successful at abstaining on weekends than weekdays, that’s a useful data point to look at more closely. Why are weekends easier than weekdays? What can you do to recreate similar conditions that will help you abstain during the week?”
  • Providing visual cues: Building a new habit can be challenging, but it gets easier when you have reminders to keep you on task. Logging your activities in a tracker can remind you that something needs to be done. According to a study in the British Journal of Psychology, people who linked their behavior to a daily routine or a specific time saw positive improvements in habit formation[3].
  • Increasing motivation: “Habit tracking also helps motivate change—just like the star charts once did for us in elementary school—by providing positive reinforcement through checking off and tracking progress,” says Roach.

Research shows that progress is a powerful driving force. A study in Harvard Business Review analyzed 238 individuals using an end-of-day email survey, consisting of 12,000 daily entries over four months. The results indicate that participants were most motivated and showed positive emotions on days they made even a little progress at work[4]. Tracking your habits and seeing continual improvements can motivate you to keep working towards your goal.

8 Expert-Recommended Habit Tracking Apps

Habitica

Habitica is a gamified habit-improvement app, designed in the format of role-playing games. “It is a free app that uses a social network and in-game rewards and punishments to increase people’s motivation and productivity,” explains Maria Espinola, Psy.D., psychologist and CEO of the Institute for Health Equity and Innovation.

With Habitica, users can create and customize a character, or avatar. When you complete the tasks on your to-do lists and habit lists in real life, your avatar is rewarded with items and experiences that enable you to level up in the game. Your character will get destroyed or lose its health if you fail to complete your tasks. Most features are free, but other in-app purchases are available with a subscription.

The app, which is available on iOS and Android, offers a habit list for tracking good and bad habits at your set frequency—daily, weekly or monthly. You can track tasks you want to do multiple times in a day and enable reminders for each task. It also features the opportunity to build goals and work on challenges with friends for added accountability.

Habitica is free, but offers more features with a subscription, which costs $4.99 monthly, $14.99 for three months, $29.99 for six months and $47.99 annually.

Streaks

This habit tracking app is for you if you’re looking to build a habit streak, consisting of repeating the same tasks over a long period. “If you’re motivated by seeing your progress, this is a great app for you,” says Dr. Sepehri.

Roach recommends Streak because, “it is a great tracking app for anyone trying to start positive, healthy habits and kick bad ones to the curb,” adding that it’s organized well for “those left-brained thinkers.”

Streaks allows you to create a to-do list with specific tasks you need to complete daily (up to 24 tasks), choose how frequently they need to be done and set reminders. It provides useful statistics for assessing your progress, with the goal of achieving a streak of consecutive days. The user interface is simple and customizable, featuring 78 color themes and 600 task icons for customizing features to your preference.

The app is available on iOS, and integrates with Apple Watch and the Health app to keep you on track with your goals. It costs $4.99.

StickK

SitckK is a user-friendly app designed to help users build good habits, stick to them and achieve personal goals. “This app uses behavioral economic principles to promote personal change in different settings, seeking to increase people’s motivation by focusing on incentives and accountability,” says Dr. Espinola.

StickK works by making users sign a “commitment contract.” The contract terms require users to set goals, define what needs to be done to reach the goal and give them the opportunity to put some money on the line and state what happens to the money if they fail to stick to the commitment.

The free app, available for iOS and Android, includes progress reports and commitment journals for monitoring your progress.

Strides

Available for iOS, the Strides tracker allows you to set SMART goals and work at your own pace. “It offers four unique tracker types, which can help users find a tracking method that fits their needs,” says Dr. Espinola. With the four unique trackers, users can choose how they measure and track their goals, whether it’s set time-bound target goals, smaller milestones or set averages. “This app also offers customized progress reports, tracker templates and charts with history and success rates, which can help users stay motivated,” Dr. Espinola adds.

You can add notes to your set habits, schedule reminders and get progress reports. The app also offers 150 templates. While there is a free version, Strides Plus costs $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

Productive

The Productive app has a simple, aesthetically-pleasing design. You’re able to complete, stop or pause habits at any time, and completed habits result in a motivating streak. Dr. Sepehri says this app is a favorite because, “being able to see a streak of success gives us the dopamine boost we need to not only keep tracking, but also to maintain our progress”.

Another perk of Productive is its portfolio of features, including weekly challenges, reminders, ADHD assistance and educational articles to make habit building easier. Available for iOS and Android, the app is free, but offers extra features for $3.99 monthly and $23.99 annually.

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Way of Life

Way of Life offers the standard features of most habit trackers—including a streak feature, reminders and data on your progress—and is easy to navigate and organize. “Simple and practical. The interface is intuitive, so data entry is easy and quick. You can use this app for free to track up to three habits.” says Dr. Sepehri.

It features a scoreboard of weekly and monthly feedback, and allows you to visualize progress via charts and graphs, as well as the ability to export data to Excel. The premium version of the app, which is available for iOS and Android, costs $4.99.

HabitShare

If you’re a fan of smashing goals with friends, this app might be for you. HabitShare is a social and collaborative habit tracker for building habits and tracking progress with friends. “It can be helpful to get reminders and encouragement from others to achieve certain goals. As an example, most people are more likely to exercise if they have someone who exercises with them and reminds them to go to the gym,” notes Dr. Espinola.

However, you have total control over your privacy settings, and can choose to work alone or share your goals with friends (and which friends see which goals). The app offers features to customize your habits and schedule reminders. This app is completely free, and available for iOS and Android.

Habit Tracker

“Habit Tracker is a great app which I recommend to many adult ADHD patients who have difficulty getting daily chores or tasks done,” says Roach.

Dr. Sepehri also describes the app as exceptionally accessible, organized and well built, “it provides a wealth of statistics on your habits and even has a diary where you can take more detailed notes,” she says.

Available for iOS, it features cloud backup and sync, so you can exchange the same data between all your devices, and view your progress anywhere and anytime. Other features include custom reminders, habit ideas, focus time and a yearly review. This app is free, with in-app purchases available.

Healthy habits can boost your well-being in different ways. “Practicing a new healthy habit can have a domino effect, prompting you to add more healthy routines that compound on your success.” says Dr. Sepehri. “This not only boosts your overall well-being, but your confidence and sense of self-efficacy as well. It’s essentially an act of self-love when you prioritize habits that remind you to value yourself and your health.”

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