Way of Life

So it’s January 4th. You’ve (mostly) recovered from all the festivities Tuesday night, you’ve probably already written the wrong year on at least one important document, and if someone tells you, “Happy new year!” one more time, you’re most likely going to respond by punching them in the face. Am I right? Good. We’re all pretty much on the same page now.

We may not all be on the same page when it comes to our New Year’s resolutions, though. Sure, you had good intentions on New Year’s Eve when you declared that you were going to cut sweets out of your diet, but now that chocolate cake in the fridge is looking pretty tempting, and it’s taking everything you have not to grab a fork and consume the whole thing in one sitting. It’s OK if your resolutions are already getting tough. Or maybe you’ve already slipped up and broken a New Year’s resolution. That’s OK, too. The important thing is that you recognize where you are and start taking steps toward where you want to be.

Having said that, I would like to introduce the topic of my first Stuff Devon Likes post for 2013: Way of Life. Way of Life is a productivity app for iOS devices that helps you form good habits and break bad ones. The app is simultaneously simple and powerful, and combined with a great interface, this makes for fantastic user experience that can truly improve one’s life.

The basic function of Way of Life is simple. To start off, you add an item (such as “exercise” or “eat junk food”) to your journal. You then tell the app whether the item is something that is good for you or bad for you. Once you’ve made your list of items, you log each day whether you did each item or not. If an item is a good habit, you get a green mark for doing it and a red mark for not doing it. The opposite is true for bad habits. And that’s it. Do that every day for each habit, and you’ll start to fill out your journal. You can view your journal in week or month view, and you can view each item as a pie chart to see how your green and red marks match up against each other. You can also set a reminder at a certain time of day to remind you to fill out your journal in case you forget. But that is just the beginning of what Way of Life can do.

Some habits may be more complicated than just marking yes or no every day. For example, what if the habit you’re trying to form is to exercise five days a week? It hardly seems fair that you should have two big red marks on the days you don’t exercise. You are keeping to your goal, after all. But you also don’t want to lie and say you exercised when you didn’t. And that’s where Way of Life’s skip option comes in. You can give a day a blue mark by telling the app that you’re skipping that item for that particular day. This mark will not count for or against you. I use this feature on Sundays when my devotional book gives me a day of rest, as you can see in the image of my journal above.

Another handy feature in Way of Life is notes. Let’s return to the exercise example. Let’s say you don’t just want to exercise every day, but you want to keep a log of your daily workouts. When you go into Way of Life to give yourself a green mark for the day, you can also swipe left to add a note containing your workout details. The notes feature has unlimited potential in Way of Life (such as remembering why you skipped a certain day or why you gave yourself a red mark) and adds to the app’s overall usefulness.

Way of Life also comes with powerful statistical tools. On the Trend tab, you can see graphs for each of your items, and as you fill out your journal over time, you will start to see patterns in your data. Hopefully you’ll start to see your number of green bars for each item go up over time!

After all, that is the point of the app. It’s called Way of Life for a reason. It exists to help you improve your life by creating good habits and removing bad ones. Of course, the app can’t do that for you. The decisions you make are completely your own. But what the app does is make you more aware of the choices that you make and how those choices line up with your goals. Should you eat that piece of chocolate cake? If you do, you’ll have to mark it in your journal. And after all, your goal is to cut sweets out of your diet, and eating chocolate cake isn’t exactly in line with that goal.

I am of the firm belief that if we were more intentional about the decisions we make and the way we spend our time, our lives would be greatly improved. My experience with Way of Life has been fantastic. I use the app to keep myself accountable for my daily Bible readings, my self-imposed coding lessons, my New Year’s resolution to write daily, my sleep schedule, and more. I look forward to marking my journal each day, and it really has helped me think more about the decisions I make. If you made a New Year’s resolution, try using Way of Life as a tool to help you get on the right track. And even if you don’t have a New Year’s resolution, I’m sure there’s something you’d like to start do (or stop doing). Give Way of Life a try and see if you can start forming some good habits today.

Way of Life is available for free on the App Store. The free version lets you add three items to your journal, which is plenty to get started with. If you like the free version, you can unlock unlimited items for just $4.99.