Whether you’re still trying to hold down those New Year’s resolutions or you’re just generally trying to stay on top of your productivity, we could always benefit from some accountability checks. You can do these yourself, sure, but having a little outside help from a well-made app can make a big difference.
For one-on-one accountability: FocusMate and Supporti
A major component of productivity is planning your day, so if you’re planning on doing a certain task, like clearing your inbox or consolidating notes, try using FocusMate to get paired with an accountability partner who’s working at the same time. You get put into a video chat with the person, both share what you’re working on, and then get cracking. This relies on the principle of “body doubling,” or the idea that people work harder when someone else is around. If you’ve ever pushed yourself at the gym because you’re surrounded by other people or invited a friend over to sit on your couch while you clean, you get it. FocusMate lets you set up three sessions a week for free, but if you want unlimited sessions it’ll be US$9.99 per month or about US$84 per year.
Supporti is similar, but instead of matching you up for quick focus sessions, the app matches you with a longer-term partner. You goals will be similar and you’ll commit to supporting each other through the work. You communicate with each other through the app daily, checking in on your goals and sharing your progress, plus honest feedback on theirs, and vice versa. At the end of seven days, you can pick a new buddy if you want to. It’s US$15.99 per month or US$129.99 per year.
If you want an accountability group: Flown
Flown hosts group sessions that function like virtual study groups, allowing you to work “alongside” others who are also trying to get things done. From the comfort of your home, you can surround yourself with people who are working on their tasks at the same time, giving you the same feeling you’d get if you were at a coffee shop, in a library, or working in a large group of people. There are virtual quiet rooms to join in the day and coworking sessions you can join with smaller groups of people for an hour or two, led by facilitators. There’s a 30-day free trial, but even after that expires, you can join free sessions on Fridays. If you’re really feeling it after the trial (which doesn’t require you to put down your card info), it’s US$25 per month, US$228 per year, or US$900 for a lifetime membership.
If you just need a personal push: Loop Habit Tracker
Maybe you don’t need a virtual coworking space, but just need a way to track your own progress and push yourself. Loop might be your answer, as it provides a platform for tracking progress, scheduling work, and getting helpful reminders via notification. You enter your progress into the app and get a Habit Score, which is based on how often you do what you set out to do. Gamification is a major motivator for some people, so if all you need is to see a number go up, up, up, try Loop, which is free for up to seven habits and US$9.99 per month if you want to track more than that.
If you work best under someone else: Boss as a Service
The idea behind Boss as a Service may be funny to those who work for demanding bosses already, but could be a godsend for someone who has their own business, works for a non-communicative manager, or takes online classes. Essentially, you pay the app to act like your boss, expecting your work on a deadline and following up with you to make sure it’s getting done. This will heighten the urgency behind your work, especially since you need to provide your “boss” proof that you’ve gotten your work done. In real life, a boss can discipline or fire you for not getting work done, but since the app can’t do that, it vows to “not stop bugging you” about a deadline if you miss it. It’s US$25 per month, US$60 per quarter, or US$200 per year.
If you’re working with a team: Tability
Virtual groups of strangers are one thing, but what about when you have a task that requires contributions from everyone on your established team, whether at work or in a group project at school? Enter Tability, which breaks down tasks at different tiers, from company-wide goals to specific team-related tasks, then tracks the progress on each one. Everyone on the team checks in, which will update the progress that each user can see. The pricing is per-person and per-month and comes at basic, plus, and premium tiers. Basic functionalities include a strategy map, initiative planning, reporting, and sharing and will cost US$4 per person per month; US$5 per person per month gets you that plus check-ins, data sources, and more; US$8 per person per month adds on a cascading map, advanced access controls, an audit trail, and 24/7 support.
If you want real stakes: Forfeit
Forfeit has an interesting premise that isn’t for the faint of heart: You put down money (between US$1 and US$50) and if you fail to accomplish the goal you tie to it, you lose that money. Succeed and you keep it. A member of the app’s team will review evidence—like gym selfies, recordings of yourself working, or whatever else—to make sure you met the goal you set. You pre-determine what you’ll do, like, “I’ll send a time lapse of myself reading before 11 a.m. tomorrow or forfeit US$10.” According to the company, there’s been $901,000 staked across 74,000 sessions with a 94% success rate—meaning most people are motivated to keep their money and don’t lose it. You don’t have to pay for the app in the traditional sense, but you do pay if you fail to accomplish your goal. Forfeit can keep that money or you can opt to have it given to a charity or even a group of friends using the app.
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