It’s that time of year when through your hangover you start to consider how other people’s updates on Facebook make you feel like a loser. So you decide to make a resolution or three in the hope that you’ll feel better about things in the coming months.
The idea of promising something at the start of a new year goes back along religious lines through knights, Romans and Babylonians. Back then it was a vow to a leader or a prayer to the gods to look after them, rather than a promise to yourself to make improvements.
A new era of tech events has begun
We’re back in New York this November for the 4th edition of our growth-focused technology event.
Digital times provide digital means though and if you’re thinking of making a change, as the saying goes – there’s probably an app for that.
Here’s a selection of sites and services you might want to consider if you are taking up one of the more common resolutions for 2013.
Read on through the next few pages…
Manage your money
If you’re feeling brave, you will have already looked at your post-Christmas bank balance and probably flinched. If this is the case, then it’s time to work out a way to at least be more aware of your finances if not manage them a little better.
There’s a number of options open to you if you want to keep abreast of what you are spending, lending and saving. Mint.com is a solid choice for setting goals and tracking your progress. If you’re saving as part of another resolution, say, more travel, then it’s helpful to see how far you have to go to attain your goals.
Often noted as the UK’s answer to Mint.com, Moneydashboard is a good alternative for visualising your finances. The service takes in data from your online current, savings and credit card accounts from all the major UK banks, letting you manage everything together in one place.
Moneydashboard was relaunched in 2012 and you can see what our own Paul Sawers made of the site and the way that it works here.
If you’re looking to track your business accounts as well as your personal finances, you might also like MergePay which launched as an open beta in August 2012. The service helps to simplify invoices and bills so that you can see what’s going out a little more clearly.
If you’re keen to get your kids in on financial responsibility, there are some lovely sites where they can manage their pocket money and even birthday cash under parental supervision.
Take a look at sites like Roosterbank and PKTMNY. The former was designed by kids and parents to work out ways to manage money that’s both fun and secure. PKTMNY launched in November and provides a similar service complete with a pre-paid VISA debit card for eight to sixteen year olds.
If your kid is better at managing their finances than you are, it might be the spur you need to get a handle on your own.
A festive season spent on the couch taking in more calories than you’ve seen in the past six months might find you feeling a little rounder at the edges and wanting to feel more sprightly.
There are so many ways to approach this digitally now that you have a pretty good suite of tools on offer that might help you get in shape.
The idea of the quantified self is a strong theme inside personal fitness training. You gather your data and take a good hard look at yourself, not in a mirror, but on a spread sheet or a visualisation. From here, you can usually see weak points or areas for improvement.
Basically managing your own data can help you to make better decisions. If you’re not getting the results you want by trotting around the block twice a week, maybe a commitment to cross training will be the answer.
For tracking your progress and working out ways to keep fit, the obvious leaders are Nike Fuelband and Fitbit. Both are worn through the day and so can show you where you might be better off trying to be more active.
For specific exercises and regimes you may want to explore apps like RunKeeper, Pumpup, Endomondo. RunKeeper, which has just unleashed a new UI for its 14 million users, helps you track and share your progress if your fond of heading out on your feet.
Yog is not dissimilar to RunKeeper but it holds an extra competitive element by allowing users to run with friends or strangers linked via the app.
PumpUp hopes to be your personal fitness coach as an iOS app that helps you tailor your workout to suit your specific needs.
If you need a bit of rhythm to get you moving, The Echo Nest and Reebok have got your back as they teamed up in 2012 to create a Spotify app aimed at different fitness activities from dancing to weight training.
For a slower tempo, yoga fans might be interested in the selection of apps available for clearing your mind and relieving stress.
The increased popularity in the various forms of yoga has spawned a huge choice from Office Yoga, Yoga in Bed or even some ‘authentic’ yoga with Deepak Chopra so you can take on some learning while you ease yourself into a highly relaxed pretzel.
Even browsing the array of fitness apps available could be the trigger you need to get on with your resolution.
Image Credit: Khalil Mazraawi / Getty Images
Learn something new
Everyday can be a school day when you’re connected to the Internet. If you are thinking of taking on new skills there’s a tonne of inspiring sites and applications that can help you learn at any level.
Thinking of brushing up on your code? Code Academy, Mozilla Web Maker, Google Developers University Consortium (formerly Google Code University which retires around the end of this month) and Peer to Peer University all have beautifully designed sites and associated communities that can help you get back into the swing of learning or even start from scratch.
If you’re up for more general knowledge then Memrise, the site that aims to help its community memorize facts in interesting ways, could help you pull off a few interesting tricks and improve language skills by being able to recall vocabulary.
If you respond better to visual examples, MonkeySee is a site you might like to try. It catalogues instruction videos and the content is wide-ranging from advanced pole dancing to how to keep an aquarium..
If you fancy learning by doing and have a technical passion, then it’s hard to beat Instructables. As hardware hacking grows as a trend, you might find yourself being tempted to try a few weekend projects and the site not only has some very cool ideas for things to make, it also carries clear instructions on anything from how to solder electronics to making varnished coasters.
Image Credit: Matt Cardy / Getty Images
Organise your life
Being more organised is often seen as the key to a wider happiness, once you’re all sorted, you can go and pursue leisure activities or finally take that holiday. But finding organisational zen is not easy and if you’re using digital tools to help, you may need to try a few before you find one that sticks.
Evernote is an excellent start. Make lists, catalog your projects, take notes on what you want to do next and add to your collection via the mobile app or website. It’s a fresh and clean presentation that might inspire you to get things together and add some order to your life.
Wunderlist, which recently received a big update, provides a nice way to organise projects if you have too many things on the go. Each project list can have set reminders, subdivisions and also be shared with others if you are collaborating.
Not forgetting calendar reminders, a few minutes time spent on Google calendar or with an app like Fantastical for Mac could get you set up for future plans. Having something that will pop up and remind you on your computer or mobile device is a pretty good advance if you’re prone to forgetting important things.
If being organised means sorting out an inbox that makes you weep with despair, fear not, we have a Geek’s guide to dealing with email overload which may provide a few tips to ease your pain.
Don’t forget to also check the awesome 20 things you can do to make 2013 more productive as set out by Abhimanyu Ghoshal. There’s plenty to do there when it comes to tidying up your digital presence and making the most of the power at your fingertips.
Image Credit: Phillie Casablanca / Flickr
Quitting is tough task for anyone who has tried to kick the demon nicotine. It often fills smokers with dread, but the health benefits are obvious.
Whether you are quitting for yourself or because your loved ones are begging you to quit, there’s a bunch of apps and sites that might help with the process.
Nobody knows the risks and costs of smoking like a smoker does. The price that is paid for each pack is increasing and in many countries each tobacco product is adorned with horrific images of the damage done to others. But a reminder of the stats is not a bad idea to strengthen resolve.
The American Quit Tobacco site has a lot of ideas for opening eyes to the stats and working out ways to give up. There are quizzes on dependency, savings calculators and even games to distract idle hands that might be reaching for that lighter.
If you’re ready for the gross-out end of changing your habits, the American Cancer Society has a simple calculator that can bring home a hard truth. Add in the number of cigarettes you smoke per day and then a number of days, say 365 for a year and it shows you how many packs and individual smokes that works out to be. Sometimes hard stats are hard to reconcile.
Given many smokers take up the habit when they are young, jumping in early is not a bad idea when it comes to providing advice and information. Teen Smoke Free goes some way to point out that it is not trying to tell teens what to do, but it does provide data and options for teens to make an informed choice.
The site is aimed at teenagers who want to make their own decisions about smoking. The information presented comes from the US National Cancer Institute and also provides cessation aids like an SMS service and a “Quit-ism of the Day” (a few words of encouragement).
There’s a slew of apps that might also help to provide distraction, encouragement or congratulations as days pass after you quit. Quit is an interesting Android app that considers your data, when you decide to smoke and what the urge to take a drag feels like. It asks questions like, “Can you wait an hour?” to try to wean users out of the habit.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides a free iOS app – NHS Quit Smoking – which offers messages of encouragement, stats, tips and a counter for keeping track of your accomplishments.
For a more straightforward app that helps you feel better and continue to resist, Since iQuit lists the days, hours and minutes since you gave up creating a chain of days you can be proud of. It also has a calculator so you can see how much money you are saving.
Image Credit: Nufkin / Flickr
Fall in Love
Nothing is going to replace the need to meet people in real life, but as the market for dating websites shows, setting up meetings and getting to know people outside of your social circle can be helped along via various apps and services.
The regular haunts provide assorted methods for presenting your good side, Match.com, Cupid, OKCupid and eHarmony are among the best known names. But there are also smaller organisations with some neat ideas up their sleeve to make the task of trawling profiles a bit more interesting.
TrueView is one of the startups we have previously covered in posts about the London Wayra Academy. The site and app hopes to attract users who want to share a bit more about themselves and link to other social profiles to create a more complete picture.
How About We… brings activities into the mix by getting users to answer its eponymous question. For example, “How about we go to a nice art gallery?” or “How about we stay up all night playing Counter-Strike?” It’s a fair way to find people might have similar interests while also broaching the problem of what to do on that awkward first date.
If you don’t fancy having to climb a mountain and walk 500 miles to find your mate, you might be better off trying an app like Skout. This app notes your location and shows you other members looking to meet people or make new friends in your local area.
Interestingly many of these apps and sites now cater to couples as well as singles. Couple profiles can be established to keep relationships fresh and point out that there are ways to look back on those first dates.
If all else fails and you find yourself in a rough spot with your current romance, maybe add weekly reminders to your calendar as noted in our organisational section and make sure you buy flowers or tell your other why you like them on a regular basis.
Image Credit: Aunt Owwee / Flickr
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