Lose weight, get organized, call Mom more - these are just some of the more popular New Year’s resolutions year after year. So as 2013 comes to a close and you start thinking of what you want for 2014, check out these five tech gadgets and apps that will help you set - and keep - your resolutions.
Get In Shape
• Jawbone UP
• Fitbit Force
• Nike Fuelband
Wearable technology was a big trend for 2013 and with gadgets like smartwatches on the way, this should hold true for 2014 as well.
Wristband activity trackers like the Jawbone Up, Nike Fuelband and FitBit Force have a twofold benefit for your waistline. First, they record your steps, calories burned and activity level throughout the day giving you a real time look into how much do or don’t exercise. Secondly, numbers are displayed on the wristband and synced through a smartphone app, adding motivation to get you moving and keep you honest about your activity level.
Graphs displayed on the app provide insights into your exercise habits and weight. The trackers also allow you play games, unlock achievements and compete against other users to see who takes more daily steps or earns more daily Nike Fuelpoints. (For more details, check out KING 5’s breakdown of activity trackers.)
Learn Something New
Give it 100
Want to speak a new language, play the guitar or even do a pull-up? Try giving it 100 days and 10 seconds of video. That’s what Karen Cheng did when she wanted to learn how to dance one year ago, and it’s important to note Cheng started with moves that were not exactly dancefloor ready.
Cheng uploaded a 10 second video of herself dancing every day for 100 days, and the timelapsed results landed her close to 4 million YouTube views, serious dance skills and a new business venture. Cheng’s website Giveit100 (an app is on the way) allows users to pick what they would like to learn then post 10 seconds videos of themselves doing that skill each day for 100 days.
Not only does watching your journey (and the journey of others on the site) from beginner to expert encourage you to keep going, chronicling your progress keeps you honest with your practice. If you need proff that you can go from amateur to adept at anything of your choosing, watch the paralyzed woman who taught herself to walk. Also don’t miss Cheng’s own video journey from two left feet, to someone how might give Beyonce a run for her money.
Clear your paper clutter, keep track of things you find online, make to do lists, plan trips, create reminders and write notes, all with Evernote. This New York Times “Top 10 Must Have App” helps you organize your thoughts, ideas and projects across multiple devices. So get ready to coordinate your digital world and clean all the clutter from your desk.
Along with organizing business projects and personal to-do lists, Evernote contains a photo feature that allows you to take and save pictures of birthday gift ideas, meeting outlines on a whiteboard, handwritten notes and even takeout menus. Create grocery lists, organize recipes and record voice memos, plus use the web clipper feature to save your favorite web pages.
The app builds searchable and tagable folders, so instead of keeping multiple documents all over the place, Evernote files away important information into one location. It works across multiple devices and the web and allows you to share items with friends and work colleagues, organizing everything in your business and personal life. Keep in mind that the Evernote world is extensive, so checking out Evernote’s YouTube channel will help you get started.
Good news. You don’t have to be spreadsheet savvy or a financial wizard to make the most of your money. Mint allows you to have a customized, personalized financial planner at your fingertips. Set savings goals, create family budgets and learn how to take control of your finances with this graphical, easy to use smartphone app and website.
Mint has many admirers including iTunes App Store: Hall of Fame, CNN: Best Apps To Manage Your Money and Wired App Guide’s: Best Personal Finance App. Once you sign up, Mint safely and securely displays all your accounts into your profile so you can track checking, savings, credit card, investment and retirement accounts in one place. And not to worry, the app is passcode protected and if your phone is stolen you can quickly and easily disable the app from any web connection.
Expenses are automatically divided into categories like bills, food, shopping and kids and there are even sub categories like bars, fast food, gas and clothing, so you know exactly where your money is going and in what proportion it is being spent. Mint also helps you set and accomplish financial goals like saving for a house or paying off credit card debt. The budget tool automatically sets a budget based on your spending habits, but you can also customize a budget and even compare your spending habits to US averages.
Knowledge is power, so Mint will also send you reminders to pay bills, notify you when your interest rate changes or even alerts you if you’ve gone over budget on a certain category. Best of all, information is displayed in graphics making the app easy to use and most importantly making managing money unintimidating.
Spend More Time with Loved Ones
How many times have you told your spouse or best friend, “We should try that new restaurant together” or “We should visit the zoo with the kids,” only to see those plans never come to fruition. Well, the new app WeShould is designed to help you keep these plans and become a better friend to any and all loved ones in your life.
Import friends from Facebook or manually add 10 friends or family members to your WeShould profile, then each person gets their own page with picture, birthday and phone number. Click the Make A Plan, Quick Reminders, Gift Ideas or Things To Do tiles on your friend’s page and the app offers suggestions for each category. For example you can jot down notes for gift ideas or things to do together then set reminders to pick up those gifts, visit with your friends or even to call your Mom. The “snap a memory” feature let you to take pictures of your excursions and share them on your friends’ pages. Plus WeShould even features challenges so you’ll always have fresh ideas for fun outings.
A unique feature of WeShould is the ability to keep your friends and memories private and only share them on social media when you want to. The app does not track GPS, and in fact, friends you add to WeShould don’t even have necessarily to know they are part of the app.
As you count down to 2014 and before the ball drops, use these tech tips to make the upcoming New Year your best. These five apps and gadgets can help you to stay you fit, learn a new skill, organize your life, reach your financial goals and spend more time with the ones you love.