Sometimes willpower is hard to muster without reinforcement. If you need some heavy prodding or a little light masochism from your apps, you have plenty of options for getting into shape, waking up, and breaking bad habits.
While we certainly prefer a more non-sadistic approach to getting things done, that doesn't work for everyone. Sometimes, the best way to establish good habits is to do it publicly, with a little shame on top. If you prefer a slap on the wrist to a high-five, here are the apps that will give it to you.
Alarm Clocks That Shame You Into Waking
Getting out of bed is incredibly hard for many of us. When a loud alarm clock and a good night's rest don't do the trick, it's time to dig into more extreme measures. Here are a few of our favourites.
BetterMe (free) is an incredibly simple iPhone app, based entirely in public humiliation. Can't get up in the morning? Every time you hit snooze, BetterMe post a message to your Facebook timeline telling your friends you were too weak to get out of bed. BetterMe doesn't even disguise itself inside a game structure -- its entire purpose is to shame you into getting up, and it does it amazingly well. If you're more of a Twitter-user, Okite (iPhone, free), might be more up your alley.
Wake N Shake
Wake N Shake ($1.99) bills itself as an "evil alarm clock" for a reason: it forces you to wake up by making you shake your phone to shut off the alarm. If that wasn't enough, a recent update also adds a competitive leaderboard to challenge your friends to get up earlier. It might not sound that evil to have to shake your alarm clock in the morning, but once you try it you'll realise how annoying (and effective) it actually is.
Morning Routing (free) for Android might be the most sadistic alarm clock we've seen. While Wake N Shake requires a little effort, Morning Routine doesn't turn off its alarm until you actually get out of bed and scan the barcode of items around your house. That means you have to get up, grab your phone, and walk to the kitchen (or wherever) to scan that carton of milk to turn off the alarm. It's almost as sadistic as when your parents would flip on the light, tear back the covers, and yell at you to get up for school. If scanning barcodes is too boring for you, Sleep If U Can forces you to take pictures.
Fitness Apps That Guilt You Into Exercise
Getting into shape is hard, and motivating yourself to do it is tough. You have plenty of non-sadistic options out there to help you get into shape, but if you need an evil kick in the pants, these are your best bets.
On the surface, Zombies, Run! (iPhone/Android/Windows Phone, $8.49) is simply a fun game that turns a jogging routine into a game of survival. By itself, it's mildly sadistic, but it has a trick up its sleeve for the truly masochistic: interval mode. We've mentioned interval training before, and Zombies, Run! offers a twist on the concept. Out of nowhere, the app will inform you of a zombie chase, and you have to run as fast as you can to get out alive. If you don't make it, it's game over, and you lose the supplies you've gathered. Combine this with a run in an empty park (if it's safe, of course) and you have a terrifying (but amazing) experience.
Gym Pact and Fitsby
Gym-Pact is pretty straightforward: attach your bank account to Gym-Pact, and when you don't go to the gym (and check in), Gym-Pact takes money out of your account. The money it collects is then redistributed to other users who actually went to the gym.
Fitsby works in a similar way, but instead of giving the money to complete strangers, it gives the bulk of it to your friends who are also on the service. Yes, what we're saying is that both of these apps will take real money from your bank account and give it away when you don't go to the gym. No, that doesn't sound like fun, but it certainly is bigger motivator than a wasted gym membership. If that's all a little too extreme for you, GymShamer connects to your Foursquare account and sends out a tweet every time you skip the gym.
To-Do Apps That Change Behaviours
Motivating yourself to get your to-do list done or change your behaviour is never easy. For those amongst us who like a punch in the gut every morning, here are some of the apps that shame you into getting everything else in your life done.
CARROT (iPhone, $0.99) is pretty much the only sadistic to-do list out there. While it won't shame you publicly for not mowing the lawn, it will sound very disappointed in you. CARROT is a to-do app with the personality of a crazed computer. When you don't do the tasks you're supposed to, CARROT gets upset. When you fail to do anything, CARROT gets even more upset. It's a minimalist experience, but it's the only to-do list out there that's willing to call you out for being the slacker that you are.
If you want to really make your commitments public, and force yourself to actually complete them, Getupp is one way to do it. Make a commitment in the app (or webapp) of a place you need to be at a certain time. Check in there, or else Getupp tells your friends when you didn't make it. This can include anything from the gym to church to the dance club. While it's not openly shaming you, Getupp still broadcasts your failures to the world. It's probably enough to make most people actually show up.
Aherk doesn't offer a mobile app, but it's easily one of the more sadistic ways to reach your goals. Aherk is designed to help you blackmail yourself. You provide Aherk with embarrassing pictures of yourself, and then a goal (such as losing 10kg) you want to achieve. If you don't meet it by the deadline, that embarrassing photo is released onto your social networks. Self-blackmail is a little tough, but once you set Aherk up, you can't back out, so you'd better accomplish those goals.
Know of a helpful app with a sadistic touch that we've missed? Tell us in the comments.