But if your goals are too general, you can’t go wrong by strategically focusing on them. For example, I’ve started to adopt the habit of manually logging my exercise sessions on my Fitbit. It can be a pain, especially if there’s a significant backlog of runs and power walks to get through, but it’s good for me to keep track of my progress. I don’t want to end up in the doctor’s office with a broken ankle or daydreaming about the last mile of a 5K. Getting organized and staying sharp is great for my health, my mental health, and my productivity.
Another strategy is to match your goals with an external reward system. Of course, I sometimes take a bite out of a craving my husband hasn’t had for a while (I will admit that a week ago, I ate an entire plate of chocolate chip cookies with her to fulfill a weekend craving), but I haven’t lost focus—I just found a new tool to help.
The AI-powered escapist game-based app Spark Map got a major update in January and recently began publishing its recipes for iPhones and iPads. Spark Map combines a visual map with a rules-based math game to tell you what kinds of food your going to have to work with. The game spreads weekly meals over three or four days, and you have to “scramble” to make sure each night’s meal meets its requirement for the allotted week. At the end of each day, you can look over the map and decide what your food goals are for the next day. Spark Map also gives you access to a small library of colorful recipes to use in the game.
Rates, organic, and deli meats may cost a few extra dollars, but I’m finding that having this little meal reminder keeps me more focused on getting exercise and eating healthier. The programming I learned on Spark Map really helped me focus when I was stressing out about whether to make French fries or grilled cheese.
With the online and mobile games that are a growing part of our everyday lives, we are leveraging technology to motivate us, to erase any discomfort associated with going through chores or uncomfortable tasks, and to help us get the results we want out of our lives. And this doesn’t have to be reserved for gamification, either. For example, Best Buy launched an app last summer that gives users points to gain access to its Best Buy exclusive discounts. Now they can use the app to track their spending at the store as well.
“We’re real people, with real life goals,” said Leslie Fitton, vice president of customer engagement, marketing, and customer analytics. “Using technology to encourage our customers, especially those of us who spend a lot of time in the store, to adopt smarter shopping habits and save money, makes sense.”
A woman plays an animated computer game about balance in Wishingonia, Texas, on June 30, 2010.
To learn more about customizable apps that make shopping easier, check out my series on the Power of Apps. And if you have questions about using tech to deal with everyday life issues, send me an email or follow me on Twitter to ask them.