The Importance of Tracking Goals
Whether you’re freelance writing, working on your blog, trying to build good habits like exercise, or stop doing bad habits, finding a way to track and be held accountable for your goals is valuable and motivating in helping you accomplish them. If you don’t track and break down your goals it’s easy to lose motivation when things get tough.
There’s different ways to track your goals including keeping a journal, doing it in a note application such as Evernote, or having an accountability partner that you check in with once a week to share your accomplishments and keep each other accountable.
However, with the surge in apps there are now some very useful goal tracking apps designed to help you track habits and goals, and get better results. Short of having an accountability partner this is one of the most effective ways to complete your goals on your ambitious schedule.
The 5 Free Apps
In order to find the best goal tracking apps to help you with your productivity, I tested several and narrowed it down to five based on a few criteria. They had to be free to get started, available on your smart phone, and give you a platform to track goals and habits.
Here are five great free apps to help you track and accomplish your goals. Most have paid premium versions but all allow good functionality in the free mode.
Apple and Android
This goal tracking app has three features that make it stand out: referees, supporters, and stakes.
- Referees: you can be your own goal referee or you can assign someone else to be your referee. Be it a friend or family member, this is customizable for each goal and can help keep you honest and accountable.
- Supporters: you can invite friends and family to view your goals to provide further encouragement and incentive to complete them.
- Stakes: this feature allows you to put some skin in the game. You can designate the amount of money and whether you will give it to either a friend, foe, charity or anti-charity if you fail to complete your goal.
If you have ambitious friends you can support each other with the Supporter and Referee features as you all accomplish your goals faster and with better focus. However, the Stakes feature is why this is arguably my favorite of the goal tracking apps.
If you’re politically active then giving money to a cause you don’t agree with, be it the NRA, a gun control organization, a pro-abortion organization, or an anti-abortion group, is extremely motivating. I tried this for one of my goals and let’s just say it was like someone was holding a fire under me and there was no way in hell I was going to lose.
In terms of set up it’s easy to make an account and when you get into the app you simply add goals and commitments. You can customize the goal including whether it’s recurring, one shot, the due date, and how often you check in.
This app looks beautiful, the features are streamlined, and sign up is lightning fast. The free version allows you to set up unlimited habits and goals, including bad habits, which is a huge bonus for this one.
You can set up alerts so you’re monitoring and marking when you complete or don’t complete goals. With the consecutive feature you can monitor your goals so you don’t “break the chain” and the app allows you to see reports with graphs of your progress over time.
This app has wonderful reminders which really help keep you on task on your goals. If you say you will drink water 8 times a day you will get 8 reminders throughout the day if you don’t update the app with your progress.
This was my second favorite app and the only downside is that they need a version for Android ASAP (that was directed at you Strides!).
Apple and Android
The two features which make this app shine are the community aspect and the ability to hire a coach to help with any of your goals. The coaching is not free and will run you somewhere around $14/week.
While I didn’t personally test the coaching, the reviews were mostly positive. Here was one fellow’s experience:
“The coaching started with Kinniso (the coach) sending me an online survey asking about my goals, how I’d like to communicate, and how I wanted her to respond if I missed a check-in. Since then, we’ve communicated exclusively via text message in the Coach.me app (though she did offer to Skype with me for an initial consultation). We started with me committing to the idea that flossing just one tooth was enough for a check-in.” (Article)
The benefit of the community aspect is the added motivation and interaction with others trying to achieve similar goals; it’s like a social network for goals where all of the goals are public and can have multiple people working on the same goal. If you want to make your goals private you can do so in the settings.
The goals vary from open ended things like write three times a week to workout goals with specific workout routines over a specified period of time. One downside though is that the app is less friendly to creating your own custom goals and even though you can, it feels clunky.
Apple and Android
This app is really more of a super to do list than a goal tracker, but if you’re a fan of goal lists then this might be perfect for you. It allows you to manage your tasks/lists in a more robust format and sign up is easy with Google and Facebook login options.
The app allows you to create tasks or lists, mark them when complete, add reminders/alerts, notes, and to share or assign them with your contacts on your phone. These handy features can help you manage your personal, work, grocery and other lists and put you in a better position for success.
You can also categorize the lists to keep them organized in assigned categories like work, personal, freelancing, etc. If you want to track your goals in to-do list style then you can simply create your habits and goals in here as lists.
The downside is that it doesn’t offer any additional forms of accountability, other than being able to share your lists, and it doesn’t have graphed tracking of your progress.
Way of Life allows you to create tasks and mark every day or weekly the days you did or did not complete them. You can add notes to each day if you need to remember something about it, or why you didn’t complete it.
Additionally, it has graphs that allow you to view your trends and your progress. The graphs, which are both pie and bar graphs, give many options including a 6 week trend to a one year trend and beyond.
This app has a nice feature that lets you mark each day as green (yes), red (no), or skip that day. It is super easy to color days including past ones if you forgot to update the app.
This app is very similar to Strides but there are two downsides: the free version only allows you to monitor 3 habits/goals and it has ads. The premium version, however, allows unlimited goals plus additional features.
Apple and Android
While this one is not free, this app offers a very robust goal tracking platform. The cost is not high and it allows detailed tracking of all of your goals including time tracking.
The big plus of this app is that it lets you plan and arrange your goals hierarchically which is more in line with reality because all of our goals are not equal. This synchronizes well to the 80/20 rule and the Power of One which reminds us that we should focus on the one most important goal each day.
Additionally this app can sync with Outlook or Google Calendar to make your life easier. So if you don’t mind the app not being free to start this is a great one to check out.
The Benefit to Freelancers
How will these apps specifically boost your freelance writing and blogging? First off, you can use them to ensure your write three, seven, fifteen, or a thousand times per week, depending on how non-human you are.
Additionally, you can use these apps to keep yourself accountable to the goals that impact your business the most like getting X number of new clients per week, spending Y amount of time promoting yourself per day/week, and much more. Accountability means you accomplish your goals faster and more efficiently!
In addition to all these benefits you can also apply the app to your personal life to help you with personal goals like exercise, developing good habits, and overcoming bad habits. And sure enough, improving your personal life will improve your overall productivity and indirectly boost your freelancing business too!
So there you have it, 5 free apps to help you accomplish your goals in 2016 and beyond. I hope you find one that works well for you.
If you have a recommendation of your own or a personal favorite please share it in the comments.