Tech Tips for Meeting Your New Year’s Goals

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Let your smartphone, smart home—or some other cool tech devices—help you make your New Year’s resolutions a reality.

Pattarisara Suvichanarakul/Getty Images

New Year’s resolutions may be notoriously tough to keep. In fact, studies and surveys show that only a small minority of people manage to meet their New Year goals—as few as 9 percent. (And I am). Definitely One of the few who manages to get out of January without a resolution.

But this year, I’m putting some tech muscle behind all those new habits I’d like to create and goals I’d like to set. Because smartphones, smart homes, and yes, a few fun tech gadgets can be just the thing to help prod even the biggest procrastinators and most willpower-challenged goal setters (ahem, me) toward New Year’s resolution success.

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Whether your goal is a healthier, wealthier, or wiser New Year, you’ll find just the right strategies to help make you a New Year’s resolution success story.

Take the time to make your New Year’s Resolutions.

Many goals require time. Smartphone apps that are dedicated to nudging can help you make sure you do.

Alarms

You can set alarms for more than just getting up each morning. You can use them all day, any day to ping you for tasks, whether you’re looking to set alarms to ensure you stop or start work at the right time each day for work-life balance, or an hour before bedtime so you can start your new get-good-sleep routine.

Calendar

If your calendar tends to get overstuffed quickly (and you tend to easily drop your resolution to-do list when it does), block off the time on your calendar now—and don’t let other obligations into that space. This will ensure that you have time to meditate, read more, or do other things, even if it is only 20 minutes.

Screen timers

If you’re the type of person who starts scrolling through social media and finally looks up after you’ve wasted two hours, a good screen time blocker can help you ensure you put more of your time toward your goals (and less of it toward doomscrolling).

For Apple devices: You can check your screen time in Settings—and probably gasp at the amount of time you’re spending on your phone. From there, you can set Downtime to prevent late-night or early morning scrolling, and limit specific apps or even an entire category (like perhaps the shopping apps if you’re looking to curb your spending).

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You can also use Focus settings to silence notifications and reduce distractions at certain times of the day (perfect for if you’re looking to improve your sleep at night or avoid distractions that keep you from meeting your New Year’s work goals). I have my sleep focus set to make it difficult to access apps and to silence calls and texts from anyone but my family.

For Android devices: Head into Settings to adjust Digital Wellbeing, which will show you how you’re spending your screen time, and lets you place limits on certain apps throughout the day.

Note: If you’re really intent on scrolling Instagram after you’ve reached your time limit, you can always get around the settings simply by changing them. But at least the limit might give you pause—and help you stick to your resolution.

Set Up Your Smart Home for Success

Smart home devices like plugs, lights, and smart speakers can actually be pretty handy for helping you achieve your New Year’s resolutions. They can help cue behaviors that you’re hoping to set in the New Year.

Smart lights

Smart lights can be great for managing your work and sleep patterns, from waking up to bedtime. You can set up routines for your lights to automatically adjust the light temperature. Use a bluish-white to boost productivity while you work, then have the lights transition to a warmer, yellow hue when you’re ready to unwind. Use that as your cue to step away from the computer and relax.

And don’t forget to dim the lights an hour before bedtime to help you feel sleepy—I’ve been using this trick for the past year and it’s helped me fall asleep much faster.

One to try: The newer GE Sync Bulbs don’t need a special hub to work, can be programmed to thousands of different colors (perhaps a rosy hue to set the stage for more cozy date nights?), and are easy to set up to work with either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Smart plugs

Smart plugs are the workhorse of the smart home—you can hook them up to anything that runs on electricity to help automate their usage. As far as New Year’s resolutions go, you could use one turn off the TV automatically at night so you can wind down at the end of the day (and stop your latest binge watch dead in its tracks), or start the coffeemaker up first thing in the morning to help entice you out of bed. If reducing your energy usage is on your goal list, hook up smart plugs with motion sensors so they can automatically turn off the lights and appliances if no one’s in the room.

One to try: Kasa Smart Plugs are compact so they only take up the whole outlet—and they’re nicely priced and super easy to set up.

Smart speakers or displays

Whether you opt for Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Home Kit, a smart speaker or display can be your personal assistant (and major nudge) for your New Year’s resolutions. You can set up routines for your day to have your favorite assistant prompt you for various goal-based activities throughout the day (i.e. at 2 p.m., remind me to take a walk), run apps or videos to guide you through workouts, meditations, or new recipes, and help you control any other smart home tools you’re using to meet your goal.

Two to try: Getting a smart display vs. a smart speaker opens you up to a ton of useful resolution-based applications. An Echo Show or a Nest Hub can show your calendar (and remind you of upcoming events), help you shop, show you workout videos, and more. Having tested both, you really can’t go wrong with either the Google Nest Hub or an Amazon Echo Show—and they’ve both come down significantly in price recently.

Invest in Apps and Smart Devices

For more focused help on specific goals, you might want to turn to apps or other smart devices to keep you motivated.

Fitness and health resolutions

Smart watches and trackers are an obvious (and helpful) investment for fitness—whether you opt for an Apple Watch, a Fitbit or one of another slew of trackers, they can allow you to set fitness goals and ping you all day long to coach you toward completing them. (And they can also alert you to all kinds of great data about your fitness and health.)

There are a slew of great fitness apps out there—and most come with a free trial so you can test them out before you commit your cash.

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And of course, there’s a growing array of high-tech fitness gear to choose from, depending on your favorite workouts—whether you’re into biking, jumping rope, and rowing, or something like the Mirror, which plays an array of fitness classes, lets you check form against your instructor’s, and displays your real-time stats for motivation.

For health resolutions, you can try a few of our favorite meditation apps to help you find your zen, or invest in a sleep tracker to optimize your zzzs. Smart water bottles like the Hidrate Spark can ping you to keep drinking and track every ounce, if drinking more water is on your New Year’s resolution list.

One to try: The Apple Watch can monitor overall health, fitness, and sleep, and makes suggestions to help you improve your health. If you want to really splurge, the newest Ultra version features a much longer battery life to let you track your stats day and night, plus new stats on your heart rate training zones, and running form for fitness fans; and blood oxygen levels, temperature, and heart health for people who are more health focused.

Money resolutions

If you’re looking to looking to get your finances back on track, whether that’s building a better budget, paying down debt, or saving for your goals, apps can help you stay motivated. (And we have a whole set of great financial apps to recommend to help you meet your New Year’s resolutions this year.)

One to try Digit is great for helping you easily sort your money into bills, savings, investing, and spending, to make it easier for you to meet your money goals.

Reading goals

Reading more books may be on your New Year’s resolution list—and there are a ton of apps that can help encourage you, whether you’re looking for apps that’ll help you take your latest read with you on your smartphone (like Kindle, Apple Books, or Audible), or apps to help you track your progress—whether your’e looking to get social with your reviews and your booklist with GoodReads, or you want to track your reading and take notes on books for your next book club meeting on Basmo.

One to try Basmo lets you make multiple reading lists—so you can keep your potential book club recommendations separate from your personal reading, track your reading stats, take notes and quotes easily as you read?,nd set and track your reading goals.

Organizing goals

If keeping your house decluttered is a constant uphill battle, making a New Year’s goal of Kondo-izing and reorganizing your house may be on your to-do list for the New Year. Fortunately, there’s a whole slew of great decluttering apps out there to help you organize your home, get rid of things you don’t need fastAnd keep everyone’s chores on point.

One to try Things 3 has been a godsend for helping me break down bigger decluttering tasks into smaller goals, so I can feel like I get something accomplished in my battle with clutter.

Other New Year’s resolutions

Maybe you’re just looking for accountability to stop smoking, start a side hustle, or build more time into your day for a favorite hobby. Motivation apps may be just what you needed to keep you honest, track your progress, and celebrating your success.

One to try HabitBull provides reminders, motivational quotes, and a fun, chart-based way to track your progress—plus specialized communities where you can connect with others who are working toward the same goal. You can track up 5 goals free of charge, so you can have a look before you commit.

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