When you work from home, it is easy to let yourself go. I prefer to work from home, even though I still have an office, but there are tradeoffs. I get even less exercise than I would at my office, especially in the winter, and I see very few people on a typical day. And it is easy to spend an entire day glued to my computer screen with very few breaks.

I know I should make a point of exercising daily, making time during the work day for conversation with friends and colleagues, and disconnecting for part of each day. I just get distracted by what I’m working on, and never get around to it. (Kind of like when I do work at the office, actually.)

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a mention of Lift, a free iOS app designed to help you meet personal goals and form positive habits by gently nudging you and turning habit-forming into a sort of game.

Here’s how it works.

You can select goals from among popular ones, new year’s resolutions, and other categories, or set your own. You can set goals for anything. Some of mine, for example, are:

  • Walk the Dog
  • Do 25 Pushups
  • Spend an Hour Offline
  • Inbox Zero
  • Write 1,000 Words
  • Leave the House

Each time you meet one of your goals, you click a big, satisfying checkmark. It is also social, so you can see who else has completed the goal recently. You can even connect to friends — although this only works if you have friends using Lift, and I apparently don’t. I assume this helps ratchet up the peer pressure.

I’m not clear on how the social aspect is supposed to play out. I haven’t seen much of it. That may be partly because I don’t have any friends using Lift, but it may also be because people just aren’t using it that way. I don’t see much social activity on any of the other goal completions. Maybe props and comments aren’t public, or maybe people just aren’t using the social features very much. I don’t think I need the peer pressure or social engagement, but I would like to see how they work.

Lift’s gamification of habit-forming reminds me of games like Farmville that require regular — if not near-constant — maintenance. Those games are obviously highly addicting. Lift is not exactly a game, but clicking that big, green button with a check mark on it tickles the same place in your brain. It is just enough to draw you back so you can click the button again and again.

So far, I have been using Lift for a few days. That is obviously not long enough to form any habits, but seeing it on my iPhone’s home screen is enough to remind me that I need to address my goals. All I really need is a gentle nudge, and so far, that has been enough. If you need more nagging, Lift lets you set reminders for each goal for specific days and times.

Nothing will make you do something you don’t want to do, but if all you need is a little nudge, Lift might be just the thing.

Leave a Reply