Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep your resolutions -- Use these tech applications to help you

By Tim Jarvis for our content Partner: Style + Tech For Men -- Handpicked for you by our team

Tech Solutions to Track Your Resolutions
It used to be that new year’s resolutions were as easy to stick to as Bayou beach rocks after the BP oil spill. But technology has finally caught up with your absolute lack of resolve.

Every year, losing weight and saving money top the new year’s resolution hit -- and miss -- list. The great news is that you can stick to these resolutions with an array of gadgets that amounts to a pile of high-tech superglue. The better news? Most of them are cheap -- or free -- thanks to your phone.

“We’re moving into an app-dominated world,” says Eric Schlissel, the owner and CEO of the IT tech support company, based in Los Angeles. “Gadgets are integrated into what you already carry around, so why spend a lot of money on something your phone can do for the price of a $5 app?”

Here are five resolutions with apps to track ’em:

1. Bring Balance to Your Life

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You can balance your checkbook in a way that won’t result in prosecution and make sure to keep that appointment with your defense attorney by adding a task- and time-management app to your smartphone. Schlissel recommends Remember the Milk, a free, feature-packed app that efficiently sorts, prioritizes and color-codes your to-do lists -- and keeps you focused on your goals via IM, email or SMS reminders. Upgrade to a Pro account for $25, and you’ll get priority support and more features.
Platforms: iPhone, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Android
2. Get a Little Help From Your Friends

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Now that you’ve got your scheduling sorted, it wouldn’t hurt to have a supportive community to help you keep your resolution. “43Things is a great online goal-setting and networking app (accessible through Facebook) with millions of users,” says Schlissel. You can itemize your goals, browse through other people’s to get ideas, post questions and even track your progress as others cheer you on to the finish line … or root for you to trip over your beer muscle.

Platforms: iPhone

3. Move More

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It’s a novel concept if you want to lose weight: Eat less … and move more! According to Schlissel, one of the most robust and accurate GPS tracking apps for athletes is RunKeeper. Ironically, the app works just as well for cyclists, hikers, skiers, etc. It analyzes your workout and tracks your distance, time and pace. One of its strengths is its interactive website on which you can sign up for the Street Team feature and connect with other users to trade progress reports, motivate each other and even participate in online fitness classes.

Platforms: iPhone and Android

4. Burn-notice Machine

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CardioTrainer gets equally high marks from Schlissel. It also utilizes your phone’s GPS to track your workouts and automatically uploads the results to its website. The app is easy to set up and boasts an array of features that includes an integrated calorie-calculator, auto-pause and real-time feedback. Basic CardioTrainer (free) can be upgraded with two premium features: Weight Loss Trainer ($2.99), which lets you set up and track a weight-loss plan, and Race Against Yourself ($2.99), which records your results and sets up competition against your best times.

Platforms: Android

5. Stay Above the Bottom Line

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If you’re looking to avoid writing checks from the prison library this year, it’s time to look into a good financial app. “I think is the best financial application out there,” concludes Schlissel. “It tracks your accounts, automatically updates transactions and is easy to use. It’s incredibly useful.” Mint pulls all your financial information into one place, allowing you to see all your balances and transactions together, on the Web or your phone. Even better? Neither the app nor access to their website will cost you a dime.

Platforms: iPhone and Android platforms

Tim Jarvis Tim Jarvis is a freelance health, technology and entertainment writer who contributes to O, The Oprah Magazine and the men’s grooming and lifestyle site Men’s Life Today. He is also currently working on a book about the mysteries of quantum mechanics.