What's a New Year's resolution but a goal you happen to have made at the start of another year? Today we've rounded up the top five tools Lifehacker readers use to track their goals and resolutions.
Evernote (Web/Phone, Basic: Free, Premium: $US45 per year)
Many Lifehacker users already use Evernote for ubiquitous capture, so it's only natural they'd incorporate it into their goal tracking. You can easily use the capture and tagging features of Evernote to track your goals. Tracking your weight? Snap a picture of the scale readout every morning. Trying to eat smaller portions? Take a picture of every meal you eat. Trying to cut back on non-budgeted spending? Use Evernote to capture your receipts for weekly review. Your goal-related captures will already be in your workflow and easy for you to tag and review.
Friends and Family (Free)
A common thread among votes was that you needed an external force to help hold you accountable. Many of you use your friends and family as accountability partners, sharing your goals with them and then checking in with them. While this process could be as simple as exercising with a friend or telling your spouse about your intention to eat healthier, you can use online tools to jazz it up a bit. Previously reviewed stickK has you wager money on your goal, with friends and family as referees, wherein the money gets donated to a charity of your choice if you fall short of your goal. Not sure you want to wager money? You can share your goals list with friends and family at other goal tracking sites like Joe's Goals or PledgeHammer.Photo by Evil Erin.
Joe's Goals (Web-based, Free)
Joe's Goals is a simple web-based tool for tracking your goals. You create a list of goals and then log into Joe's Goals every day to check off whether or not you worked towards the goal (or abstained from the vice) that day. It compiles a daily score to show you how many points you accumulated in pursuit of your goal, which is nice for those days where you do pretty good on most of your goals but fall short on others — the score still reflects on your efforts. Joe's Goals comes paired with an also free service, Joe's Logbook, so you can take corresponding notes to go with your goal-tracking calendar.
Pen and Paper (Variable Cost)
Sometimes technology itself can be an impediment to tracking your goals. Pen and paper is almost always handy, and it doesn't require you to navigate a learning curve. Two years ago we shared a simple but powerful goal motivation method in the Seinfeldian-Chain — the technique Jerry Seinfeld uses to keep himself writing, making a giant red X on the calendar for every day he writes and refusing to break the chain. Your use of pen and paper can take any shape, however, a wall calendar, a pocket planner, a stack of index cards or a legal pad you use to log your goal-related tasks. Photo by Peter Kaminski.
Excel (Windows, Office Home: $110)
Excel is one of the most widely used spreadsheet applications in the world, and it's a safe bet that nearly everyone reading this article has a copy of it on their home or work computer. (If not an alternative like OpenOffice or Google Spreadsheets can do the trick, too.) Although many people think about spreadsheets simply in terms of rows and columns of data, Excel spreadsheets can be tweaked and modified to appear almost like little applications — the screenshot above is of a free weight loss template available here. You can make a simple spreadsheet yourself, but before you do, we'd highly recommend hitting your favourite search engine and looking for keywords related to your goal like "excel template goal tracking" or "excel template weight loss". You'll find quite a few templates in any given category that you can use or study as a guide for making your own.
Have a favourite tool that wasn't mentioned in the Hive Five? Let's hear about it in the comments.