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Using Technology to Break Bad Habits: Six Apps and Digital Tools


Habits are practices or tendencies that are repeated regularly and often challenging to change as they are usually performed subconsciously. Behaviors can become habits after being repeated over several consecutive days, the exact number varying depending on the individual. The rise of technology has created the potential for an unlimited number of distractions, and countless types of apps and websites have been developed to make them addictive, causing users to rapidly form habits of dependency. Social media sites like Snapchat or Instagram, gambling sites like, and even YouTube can take up a considerable amount of time if users are not careful.

Technology can also bring positive change, however, as there are many apps and digital tools readily available to help individuals overcome practices that do not contribute to their overall well-being. As breaking habits tends to be considerably more difficult than forming them, habit tracking is an effective way to create awareness regarding current habits and is the first step in helping people create positive change. For individuals with sufficient dedication and willingness, the following digital tools can offer tremendous support in eliminating unwanted habits. Below, we highlight a few of the best tools currently available. 


Streaks is an application that allows for habit tracking and helps with forming new habits. It’s a great option for those seeking to build habits, as it helps users create to-do lists of up to 24 habits and encourages them to keep their “streak” going and to never miss a day. Streaks’ to-do lists help to form good habits because your streak is extended each day you complete one of your tasks, encouraging you to keep it up. Streaks is available on Apple devices and can sync with a user’s health data, benefiting those looking to track or improve fitness-related activities and goals. It is priced at $4.99/month. 


Habitica is a habit-building and productivity app that helps motivate users to achieve their goals in a fun way. The platform is best known for how it uses gamification to leverage human tendencies for competition, cooperation, and the desire for reward. The app is best used for creating better health and fitness-related habits and better routines surrounding work or school-related tasks. Available to both Apple and Android users, Habitica is free for the basic version and ranges from $4.99 to $47.99 for different plans and features.


Productive is another habit-tracking app that helps users create long-lasting changes. The app facilitates tracking progress toward goals in any area of life, intending to create positive change. Productive’s interface is user-friendly and intuitive and offers customizable templates. It also allows users to celebrate achievements and milestones, thus boosting motivation. Productive uses gamification tactics that allow users to collaborate with and challenge other users, increasing productivity and allowing users to encourage and learn from others. The app also shares reminders and statistics to help users stay organized, focused, and on track with new routines. Productive is supported by both Apple and Android. It is free for the basic version or $3.99 monthly and $23.99 annually. 


Habitify is another positive habit formation app that helps users stick to a schedule. Through Habitify, users can plan daily routines as well as activities that support new habit creation and help them stay organized. Seeing tracked progress can help users stay motivated and empowered as they create and maintain new habits. The app is yet another example of how gamification tactics can be effective because it creates challenges among users and allows them to track milestones and celebrate one another’s successes. The app is supported by both Android and Apple and is currently free for 15 check-ins per week and otherwise costs $4. 


Headspace is a popular app designed to improve overall mental well-being through its library of over 500 guided meditations, sleep sounds, and focus-enhancing and calming music. The app helps to coach users through mindfulness techniques for all levels of experience and offers a variety of topics such as stress relief, how to improve sleep, and how to manage anxiety. The app helps to overcome bad habits by creating more awareness and a better mindset. Positive new habits are formed through mindfulness, leaving less room for negative habits. Headspace is available for both Android and Apple and is free for the basic version; otherwise, it costs $12.99/month or $89.99/year. 


Notion is a customizable and versatile tool that offers numerous habit-tracking templates so that users can input their own unique goals tailored to their individual needs. Templates are designed to help users build and uphold positive habits that motivate them to stay consistent in their personal growth journeys. Progress towards goals can be viewed daily, weekly, or monthly, with visual representations that can help motivate users to stay on track. Notion can be used either on desktop or mobile and is completely free for personal use.


Though technology tends to be a leading cause of negative habits in today’s digitalized world, the same technology can also be highly effective in breaking bad practices, thanks to its ability to send reminders, provide motivation, and keep users accountable. Even simply setting up alerts on your smartphone can serve as a useful and simple way to remind you when to clock out of screentime, for instance, or place limits on other bad habits. Along with commitment and the right mindset, the above digital tools can be excellent aids in eliminating negative habits and forming positive new ones.

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