Tracking your habits is a really effective way to stay consistent and make those incremental improvements every single day that compound and add up to completely change your life over time. Whether it's hitting the gym, drinking water, practising mindfulness, studying or reading having a go to habit tracking app will help to make those habits stick. The problem is that habit trackers are really easy to make and if you search on the app store or google for a habit tracker there are thousands out there and it can be really difficult to figure out which are the best.
So to help you out I downloaded as many free habit trackers as I could find, filled my phone with them and then used each of them to track my habits over a week long period to find out which were the easiest and most effective to use. I then compiled a list of what I consider to be the 10 best habit trackers that you can use without paying anything and I've even included a bonus 11th at the end together with my personal take on what THE best habit tracking app is and why.
Like many habit tracking apps Productive goes big on the idea of sustaining a streak to build a habit. One big differentiator for me with Productive is the UI and UX and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into making it obvious how to add habits and how you can see what you need to do together with your streak to inspire action.
Successful days are linked together with a thin green line, giving you a visual indicator of the length of your chain. The days that you don’t follow through and complete all your habits are marked with an empty circle, a visual indication that your chain was broken. The green line connecting the dots will be broken if a habit was missed, but will stay connected if instead a habit was skipped on an incomplete day. It’s fairly simple, but it does the job — it inspires you to keep going and not break the chain.
This principle is reinforced on the Today screen as well. Each habit clearly shows the length of your chain for that specific habit. While the Stats screen may show that your perfect day streak is done if you mess up and miss one thing, it doesn’t break the chain for all your other individual habits.
The other big differentiators here are the weekly challenges which you can join to focus on sticking to those habits with others for added accountability and programs which combine educational articles and reflective statements with building key habits which is a nice psychology-based addition to helping you build habits following CBT principles of education combined with goal setting. The main drawbacks of the app are the adverts on the free version and freemium limits which may be too much for anyone not wanting to upgrade to the full version which also includes unlimited habits, deeper statistics and premium challenges. If you can get past this the customisability of the habits you can set and the social push of showing you trending habits is really nice.
Habit - Daily Tracker is a super simple, light-weight habit tracker that focuses on simplicity and analytics to help you stay consistent. I'm a huge fan of it's simple design where it's obvious you need to set a daily habit and a notification time. You can then jump into each hbit individually to see your progress and track your streak. Gamification elements aren't quite as obvious as in other trackers and there is no web or android version. The free tier limits the number of habits you can track and paying for premium gives you dark mode, cloud storage to save your streaks as well as extended notification options and an iOS widget to ensure your habits are obvious on your mobile home screen.
If you want a very simple, nice-looking and easy to use habit tracker habit is the one for you.
Streaks unsurprisingly focuses on your consistency and building streaks to stick with your daily habits. Streaks is Apple only working across iOS, MacOS and apple watch and has a fairly unique interface that you'll either love or hate.
Streaks connects to Apple Health kit to automatically track certain habits like your number of steps or mindful minutes and this automation for certain tasks really helps to automate the repetitive task of logging any completed habits which people can often find a chore. And this is where Streaks' automation becomes a real killer feature over other trackers. Streaks uniquely works with Apple's Shortcuts app to automate both opening and completing certain digital tasks. You can set it up so that the habit gets marked as complete in Streaks whenever you open a specific app so if you're looking to track your reading and you use the Kindle app the notification will allow you to click straight through to the Kindle app and then mark the habit as completed. For anyone who finds logging their habits more of a pain than actually writing them into a habit tracker this is a great feature.
There are 3 different types of tasks you can track in Streaks:
- Positive Tasks (habits you want to create, i.e. Take vitamins)
- Negative Tasks (habits you want to break, i.e. No junk food)
- Timed tasks (habits you do for a minimum period of time, i.e. 10 minutes of yoga)
Positive tasks are the default, and Streaks uses a small icon next to the task name to denote either a negative or timed task. Timed tasks can also be repeated, so if you wanted to create a habit of completing several 25-minute pomodoro timers per day, you can set that up as a habit in Streaks.
Everyday goes big on visualization to help you stick with your habits. Every time you tick off a habit a coloured blog fills your board and the blocks become darker on consecutive days. This visualization gamifies things as you want to colour the board and stick with your habits. Everyday works across iOS, Mac, apple watch and android and aves to the cloud cross device. In addition Everyday has browser extensions to keep your habits in your mind when working and max out on how notifications can reach you. The free tier allows for 3 habits to be tracked with the premium version opening up unlimited habits and dark mode as well as deeper insights and an offline mode.
My next recommendation is for a habit tracker which combines role playing game mechanics and applies game design to incentivise you to track and complete habits.
Habitica is a habit tracking app in which you can track anything and receive points just like in a role playing game. You start by selecting a character with a health and an experience bar and you can create habits, set up daily tasks and manage your projects. You are rewarded for ticking off good habits and you can also break your bad habits which is nice feature. The more positive things you accomplish in the app the more money and experience you make in the app and you can then buy items and equipment for your character which incentives you to track and complete things. Equally the health bar acts as a deterrent if you don't log things. One of the best things about Habitica is that there are a lot of people using the app so there's a huge community. Habitica has a guild and group feature where friends can create challenges every single week and you can build your own team and create a challenge for each other for a daily task or a daily habit and if one of the team members skips a day then all of the other people in the team are going to get a damage to their characters and lose health points, equally teams can earn more experience together. This drives accountability just like having a study buddy or gym buddy.
Done is another simple, minimalist habit tracker that uses horizontal bar graphs to track progress on your habits. It’s really well-designed with a minimalist interface and bright colours to make your habits stand out. Done features an iOS widget that you can add to your mobile home screen. Done also allows you to set a goal and track it multiple times per day and both build and quit habits.The free version allows for three habits to be tracked with an upgrade required for unlimited. An additional nice feature of Done is that it allows for habit categories to group habits together and add notes to reflect and journal on habits should you wish. Done features some basic automation features through Apple Health Kit to track your data and allows for export via .csv which not all trackers allow.
Done id from the developers behind the Reflectly journal app and is also available in a paid bundle with this and their other productivity apps.
Habit Tracker or Habify is a really simple habit tracker with an intuitive interface and lots of customization options. When setting a habit there a loads of options from setting a custom notification sound to how the progress graph displays to whether the habit has no end date or finishes after a given time. You can also set multiple reminders and quickly select different units to track different goal types. The app features lots of habit templates and allows you to create groups and sync your habits with friends for added accountability. The free tier limits you to 3 habits tracked at once with unlimited and more stats offered on the premium version.
Habitify is a really simple and effective habit tracker that focuses on taking the best bits of things like a Bullet journal or online sheet tracking and digitizing this without any fuss. Unlike the interface of other habit trackers Habitify almost looks more like a note-taking app with its ability to create folders to group habits and display habits by time of day. Habitify goes beyond most simple habit trackers by having templates for common habits like yoga or an end of day review and also has a section featuring challenges. Here you can host your own challenge or explore the challenge of someone else. There are monthly and weekly challenges which you can join each with a leaderboard to hold you accountable. The app also logs your mood by an emoji smiley face scale as default when logging your habits to try to identify if your mood connects to skipped habits. The app syncs with your calendar too and also has an API key if you want to connect other apps to automate logging habits though this needs some tech expertise. The paid upgrade gives you unlimited tracking while free limits you.
Tangerine is interesting because in addition to helping you build new habits it puts a big emphasis on taking care of yourself. Tap the button below the date and you can log how your day went, what contributed, and how you felt about it using a few simple prompts through a reflective journal. It’s really well done, and adds another dimension to habit tracking that fits really well. Tangerine also has great widget support, with a Cards widget that opens straight to the desired habit when you tap on the appropriate card.
Avocation is awesome because it features a nice pastel coloured interface and a friendly Avocado to guide you through tracking your habits. Your progress and streak is represented by a growing plant which can wither if you miss logging a habit and your daily habits fill a water jar that is visually represented in the analytics area.
In addition to being fast, intuitive and looking beautiful Avocation also features mini-lessons to help educate you on the science behind building habits. The paid upgrade includes unlimited habits and more colours and icons and it's available on iOS and Android.
So we've now reached the top 10 habit trackers but I wanted to include 2 extras. One has a very different take and one is another simple tracker with a really nice user interface
Fabulous comes out of the Department of Behavioral Economics at Duke University and goes big on using behavioural science to help you to stick to your habits. The app is a little different from other habit trackers as it focuses you on why you are implementing habits and then provides a growth plan based on your answers to a series of questions when you first login. The onboarding for the app takes what feels like a lifetime with multiple steps and questions but once you get in the interface is really nice and presents your habits as a journey which is rewarded by motivational letters and pop-ups. The app also features a community area called circle which sends daily pledges to help motivate you.
If you're after a quick and simple habit tracker then Fabulous isn't for you but if you want more of a CBT-style path to conistsent change and like lots of pop-ups and personalization it's definitely worth checking out.
Confetti goes big on rewarding you for finishing your habits with a playful confetti animation. Much more than this Confetti uses simple colours to visually track your habits with a focus on simplicity and highlighting your streaks. The free version allows for 3 habits to be tracked and the app is available on iOS, Android, Web and Chrome extension. It looks great and is lightweight with focus on visual reward.
So that really is it. Hopefully that's a pretty comprehensive list of habit tracking apps to narrow down your field of choice from the thousands and thousands out there on the web and app store. I've deliberately made this a top 10 list as I know everyone has their own preference in terms of functionality and design and what you are looking to track. As I mentioned I really tried to field test these apps to save you time and used each for a week to track a different habit under the free tier. So which one was my favourite?
Well for me personally I found that I was most inclined to stick with Habit Tracker or Habify as a very light-weight but customisable habit tracker that allowed me to share my habits and customize reminders. That being said while I didn't really like it's interface the automation options provided by Streaks where really helpful and saved a lot of time when it came to logging my habits that could be automated through my iPhone like Mindfulness or step count. My overall advice is to see which of these suits you the best and then try to focus on a few habits at a time. Building good habits (and breaking bad ones) is hard. It requires you to fundamentally reshape your behavior, to resist your natural patterns and to stay consistent and any digital tools that help with this are really important to helping these habits to compound over time and make a difference in your life.