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Apps to boost motivation and productivity

There are plenty of bothersome tasks that technology has yet to eliminate, but there are apps to make it a little less miserable.
There are plenty of bothersome tasks that technology has yet to eliminate, but there are apps to make it a little less miserable.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Witness UP by Jawbone lets you sign up for organized weight-loss challenges
  • People are more motivated when they can see their goal and progress visually
  • ZocDoc lets you view pictures of physicians and book an appointment online

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." Got a question about etiquette in the digital world? Contact them at netiquette@cnn.com.

(CNN) -- Sad face of the day: Adulthood is just an endless string of irritating to-dos.

They hang over your right shoulder in an angry gray cloud, extending in billowy tendrils into your consciousness whenever you begin to think about sinking into a lawn chair in the backyard or inviting some neighbors over for a themed poker night. "You should be productiiiiiive," they nag you in a sibilant whisper. "You have ressssponsibilitiesss."

To be fair, technology has done a decent job of cutting down on said inconveniences. At one point, you had to use your own two feet or hitch up a carriage to go into town and pick up some edibles.

Then: the car! And now: FreshDirect, which has made us so immobile we actually roll our eyes when we have to get up to let the delivery boy inside. So he can deliver our groceries directly to our kitchens.

Still, there are plenty of bothersome tasks that technology hasn't yet eliminated. It's done its best, though, to at least make the odious tasks less so. With that in mind, we give you: three major drags, and the apps that'll make them ... well ... if not fun, a bit less miserable.

The drag: Losing those last 10 pounds

... Or the first 10 pounds, as the case may be (and probably is).

Lucky for you, some new-ish gadgets and tools stoke your competitive streak to get you out of that permanent, butt-shaped indentation you've left on your Lay-Z-Boy.

Witness UP by Jawbone, a bare-bones bracelet (OK fine, insecure men, "wristband") that tracks your activity levels and sleep by sensing movement and lets you sign up for organized challenges (e.g., "Get 49 hours of sleep per week.") The FitBit, a little chapstick-sized clip, has almost identical claims, plus it awards you Foursquare-like badges for hitting fitness milestones (15,000 steps in a day ... yahoo!).

Both gizmos are $100 and encourage you to compare your totals with other users, though there probably aren't really enough people in the communities yet to compete with anyone you know.

If you're thinking, "One hundred clams for a fancy-pants pedometer?! What am I, a sultan?!" -- you are probably a miser, in which case, have we got the app for you: GymPact asks you to predict how many times you'll make it to the gym in a week.

Check in appropriately, and you'll earn cash. Fail miserably, and you owe the site money. Hey, it's only annoying if you remain glued to that recliner, butterball.

The drag: Saving up for a trip/surgery/down payment on that Uglydoll Swarovski watch

Yes, you could spend your tax return on a wild spree at the mall, spittle collecting in frothy flecks on the corners of your mouth as you breathlessly vault from store to store. But there's that hissing conscience again, urging you to sock away the funds instead.

Look, 9 times out of 10, not spending is way less fun than spending. But free personal finance site Mint.com makes saving -- if not enjoyable -- at least candy-colored and pleasant-looking.

Use the "goals" function to map your progress in a bar graph and you might even be likelier to hit the target, according to research from the McIntire School of Commerce. When people were more than 60% to their goal and could see the progress visually, they were more motivated than those who just saw the growing dollar amount.

The drag: Going to the dentist

The thing you have to bite on to take X-rays will hurt, your gums will bleed when the dental hygienist goes to town with that little metal weapon, and the dentist will absolutely give you a look when you lie through your filmy, yellow teeth about how often you actually floss.

These things we cannot change. But we can encourage you to at least find a hot dentist -- a little eye candy to deliver that message about how you need to cut back on the sweet stuff.

Online directory ZocDoc lets you browse health care practitioners by location and the types of insurance accepted. You can book an appointment online, read reviews, and -- this is critical -- view pictures of the smiling physicians. The service is free for patients; doctors pay a fee to be listed.

Sure, you wouldn't want to select your heart surgeon based on his winning smile, but there's really no harm in choosing a gorgeous dental doc to take care of your pearly whites.

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