I was mid-sentence during a Zoom call when I heard it: A swishing, swirling noise that sounded like waves crashing or buckets of water sloshing inside a bathtub. Or a toilet.
Trying to maintain a calm facade, I quickly looked for the phone, frantically switching off the notifications.
Looking up, my face burned in mortification when I noticed that one of the other call’s participants was smiling widely while another one seemed mystified as to what had just happened.
It was my water-drinking app. Reminding me to drink water, and ALSO indicating to everyone on my zoom meeting that I was flushing the toilet. 🤦🏼♀️
The funny thing is that I only have notifications turned on for a few select apps, and as a result, I had forgotten to silence my phone before the call. Despite my temporary embarrassment, I’ve found that a few select apps (and, sometimes, the sloshing water noises that accompany them) can help foster specific healthy habits.
Here are a few I’ve found to be beneficial rather than distracting:
- Keep track of various habits in one place. The HabitShare app provides the space for you to create custom habits for specific daily or weekly goals. Simply create a habit (“Read 15 minutes,” “Exercise,” “Drink Water”) and schedule reminders, as needed. Habits are private by default, but you can also share them with friends for additional accountability.
- Read the Bible more. The YouVersion app includes tons of translations of the Bible and devotionals on searchable topics. One of my favorite habit-tracking features on the app is the “Streaks” notice on the homepage, which lets you know how many days in a row you’ve been in the app. Once I’m on a streak, I hate to break it! YouVersion has helped me cultivate healthy Bible-reading habits; one of my favorite devotionals has been the Bible in One Year with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. Each morning, I simply turn on the audio version of the devotional and Scripture reading while I’m getting ready for the day. You can also choose to have reminders sent to you each day or do a devotional with a friend (accountability is so helpful in cultivating habits!).
- Stay hydrated. One of the habits I’d like to work on, is drinking enough water throughout the day, and the Waterlogged app is the reason my colleagues heard a slurping, sloshing noise on my call. You can customize the number of ounces you have as your daily water goal and—if you turn on the sounds—will get reminders each hour between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to drink enough water to meet the goal.
- Be present with family and friends. Although my screen time use went down when I removed social media apps from my phone, I’m always looking for ways to increase accountability on my screen time and be more present with those around me. Moment is a great starting point for that goal, in that it keeps track of how much time you’re spending (and what apps you’re looking at) each day. You can also track your family’s screen time—although my kids are fairly young, so we haven’t utilized that yet—as well as specifically list your goals and receive reminders that help you achieve them consistently. They also have coaches, although that section has an additional cost so I haven’t tried it out.
- Connect with the person you love. Several years ago, my husband and I read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It was helpful for us to recognize how each of us prefers to give and receive love (quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, acts of service) and helped strengthen our marriage. I recently downloaded Love Nudge, a goal-setting app that allows you to create goals tied to your partner’s love language—for instance, “Movie Night” or “Time Together Without Phones” for someone whose love language is quality time, or “Empty the Dishwasher” or “Make Coffee” for someone whose love language is acts of service. Along with the goal itself, users are able to customize how many times each week or month they aim to complete the goal and whether or not notifications are turned on. There’s also the option to connect with your partner and “nudge” each other.
While technology can be distracting and exhausting, there are times that it can be helpful—just not in the middle of a Zoom call.
How about you—have you tried any apps that have helped cultivate healthy habits?
A career in journalism set Kristin Demery up to publish her own stories of living this wild, precious life. She now is an author of five truth-telling books, including the latest 100 Days of Kindness, and part of a trio of writers collectively known as The Ruth Experience. Kristin served as a newspaper and magazine editor and her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including USA Today. She still works behind-the-scenes as an editor for others while writing her own series on kindness, friendship, and living with intention. Find more from Kristin at theruthexperience.com.