Apps help us create new habits

“CARROTS don’t work. Nor do sticks. Nor, even, do carrot sticks.” With these words starts the article in the Economist arguing about the good use of the mobile apps in raising children. It states, for example, that the children learn to associate vegetables as something useful in their health and learn to eat more carefully.

I couldn’t disagree more by saying that “CARROTS” DO work pretty well. Well… digital carrots of course. πŸ˜€ I am using for some time the Carrot Alarm app, available on the App Store, and it changed the way I wake up! In fact I was so excited that I made a review about it on Saxolist, the new project of our team. Today I realized how useful it was in forming a new habit. The habit of waking up on the time I’ve set the alarm!!

I always used to hit snooze button in the mornings to get a few more minutes of sleep, which is really a dilution. But as soon as the app got updated and with each snooze-hit I now lose points, I never hit it again. It was really irritating by that point with the PSTN modems I heard connecting and the “name callings” with every snooze-hit but that new feature did it! Read the review if you want to understand what I am talking about.

There are apps out there that can help us track our patterns in each area of our life. From our fitness, our sleep, our eating habits to the way we complete things and the way we work. There are also apps destined for our things, from our thermostat, our light bulbs to our cars or taxi rides. Also tracking our patterns. The day that your fridge refuses to open at 3 am is not very far! The list is getting longer and the apps are becoming better by finding new ways to motivate you or discourage you, like becoming more fun to use or having a great portion of gamification in them. 10 points for eating that apple sitting alone for days in your fridge, minus 100 for eating that apple pie!

Rewards and punishments got new means of teaching not just kids but everyone of us useful habits. As long as the Internet of Things gets more implemented in our devices and in our body, a new way of living is gonna be formed. Again, exciting times ahead!

  • David_in_Greece

    Hi Christian, it’s me, David from SKG Startupers at Meetup πŸ™‚

    “Habits” is a HUGE subject when it comes to success. That’s probably why there’s so much talking in the media about this Pavlok wearable that is supposed to come out in 2015. Even Apple seems interested in buying it, according to some latest rumors. Here a website about this device:

    The website is mine, by the way: one of my different websites which are part of my own efforts to ‘create my own thing’ (but most of my websites are in German). This specific website I am not monetizing yet, but as soon as the device will launch I hope to have people enough on the website that are interested in buying it through my website.

    Regards, now from Trikala,

    • Hi David! I am so thrilled you read my blogpost! πŸ™‚ You are discussing one of my favourite topics, habits.

      I checked the device and it looks like the features it has could be implemented on a smartwatch, but… wait…a… minute….


      I get the carrot/stick idea. I even get the name, Pavlov/Pavlok. BUT, and that’s a huge “but” this one, I don’t believe we should adopt the idea that “Humans are exactly as dogs are”. We may respond the same to the pain/pleasure sensations but WE decide what triggers that sensations. We have the capacity, in contrast with animals, of experiencing physical pain and feel pleasure! We have that choice and it wouldn’t take long to manipulate that meaning after a while IF we first didn’t get rid that thing from our wrist!! Automatic FB posts to all our friends? After a while we will set the settings to private or never notice or care! Plus, Phycology teaches us that there is also the underlying reason behind the habit that it needs to change..

      There is also one thing that bothers me, side effects. How many people will experience those shocks at least once every hour or two? What would that do to their nervous system after a while? Of course you might say that people should know how to form habits and not put 30 tasks every day on that thing. Well in the end will they? What if something all of a sudden happens and you need to completely change the schedule of your day?

      I don’t discard crazy ideas like this one, in fact I LOVE them! But when it comes to destroying bad habits, or BETTER, forming new ones to replace the bad ones, I believe there is a better way. I KNOW IT! It should be based on choice and long term pleasure. And not on hurting ourselves, the long-lived effects of the bad ones do that by their own..

      P.S. I would love to discuss it more on the next SKG Startupers meeting!!

      Best regards!! πŸ™‚

      • David_in_Greece

        Very good thoughts, Christian! Yes, let’s discuss it in the next meeting πŸ™‚

    • Interestingly enough, the Techcrunch wrote a post today about the launch of Pavlok on Indiegogo: