Breaking bad habits, like this person

Technology has become the source of many bad habits. People are texting while driving, checking their email while at dinner, and spending far too much time on Facebook and not enough time actually doing work. Thankfully, technology can also prove to be very useful for breaking a bad habit too.

The various advancements in technology are designed to make our lives easier and more efficient. A long-distance call over Skype sure beats sending a telegram by horseback. If you have a bad habit that you’ve been looking to kick, some of these technologically-geared tips could get you started in the right direction.

Free Online Journals Document Your Thoughts

Write it down. This is advice that many people get when they’re trying to lose weight, quit smoking, or achieve some other kind of goal. Kicking the habit of incessant snacking and eating extra large portions is difficult, to be sure, which is why it’s a good idea to document your thoughts in the form of a journal. This not only helps to track your progress, but the very process of putting your thoughts and feelings into words can be enlightening and cathartic. This doesn’t mean you need a pad of paper though.

Instead, check out the host of different free online journals on the Internet. They work just like a traditional diary, except your entries (you can usually set them to private) are stored on the web. This actually makes it easier for you to flip back to previous entries and gain perspective into your previous self. Penzu.com is one of the better ones. If you’re not into writing, video journals can be very good too.

Smartphone Apps for Counting Calories

Going on a diet? Part of that might have to do with tracking your meals and counting those calories. Just like how an electronic journal can be a much better alternative to a paper journal, the same can be said about a calorie tracking journal too. Better still, you can keep it with you everywhere you go (and eat), thanks to the huge assortment of smartphone apps.

From the iPhone to BlackBerry, most smartphone platforms have more than a few calorie trackers with robust feature sets. Over on Android, My Fitness Pal is one of the most popular options. And it’s free to boot!

Marking Milestones with Google Calendar

Regarding how to break a bad habit, you need to set goals and these goals need to have deadlines. Sure, you could circle the dates on your wall calendar, but why do that when you can use something like Google Calendar. This is easily accessed from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Mark those deadlines and make sure you reach your milestones by those dates.

E-Cigarettes When Willpower Isn’t Enough

Perhaps one of the hardest habits to break is smoking cigarettes. It encompasses so much. There is a physical addiction, an emotional addiction, and a mental addiction all rolled into one. As with counting calories, there are many smartphone applications that can help when you try to quit smoking, but sometimes they’re not enough.

Even if you’ve tried the patch or the gum, turning to an electronic cigarette might be that extra boost that you need. It gives you a close approximation of the tactile sensation you get from puffing on a cigarette, quite unlike the patch and the gum. You’ll still need willpower, but an e-cig could help.

Public Wi-Fi Access Reduces Distractions

When you work from home, there are so many distractions. From the other people in the home to the allure of the television in the living room, there are so many things that divert your attention away from work. Thankfully, technology is on your side.

Take advantage of public Wi-Fi access points in your city. Coupled with cloud computing and the relative affordability of a decent notebook PC, you can work from just about anywhere. This can reduce the number of distractions and get you to focus on the task at hand instead. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in coffee shops, government buildings, public libraries, educational institutes, and more.

Sentry PC Sets Internet Time Limits

Maybe working remotely isn’t an option. Maybe your self-discipline needs a little assistance to break the bad habit of getting distracted on the Internet. If you find yourself surfing YouTube and getting lost on Reddit more often than you’d like to admit, you might be wondering how to quit getting distracted so easily. You might want to consider installing Sentry PC on your computer.

It’s employed by parents and corporations alike, setting time limits for Internet access, among many other functions. This way, you can allow yourself X number of minutes of “free” web access, restricting the rest of the time to focus on work or whatever else it is you need to be doing.

More Manageable Project Management

Do you have the bad habit of always leaving everything to the last minute, despite the fact that you know you have a massive project that can’t possibly be completed in the last minute? You need better project management, in this case, and that largely has to do with breaking down the big project into smaller, more digestible chunks. It has to do with setting up “to-do” lists with specific deadlines and milestones.

Tools like Basecamp and Evernote can be useful in breaking a habit of perpetual procrastination. They keep you on track and well organized.

Improve Fuel Economy with Wireless Vehicle Monitors

If you have a lead foot and waste far too much gas, then you may need a technological reminder of all that waste… not to mention the unnecessarily higher impact you’re having on the environment. Some newer cars, like the Honda CR-Z and Ford Focus, have a feature built into them that tracks how “green” your driving habits are, but you can have the same experience with wireless vehicle monitors too.

A device like the Lemur EconoDriver keeps an eye on your fuel consumption, your fuel efficiency, and how much extra your lead foot is hurting your wallet. You can’t argue with the hard data; that’s how you break a bad habit of being fuel inefficient.

Get Your Bank on Your Side

Need to curb your uncontrolled spending habits and self-control just isn’t cutting the mustard? Setting budgetary constraints with various expense tracking software can be useful, but what if that’s not even enough? One interesting service to consider is MasterCard inControl. It allows you to pre-set strict limits on spending and this goes well beyond the standard credit limit.

Similarly, maybe you don’t save as much money as you should. Your bank can help you with that too. They can set up programs where every debit transaction is rounded to the next dollar, for instance, with the “excess” money being deposited into a savings account.

Prevent Emails You’ll Regret Later

Did you accidentally send an inappropriate e-mail message to your boss after you got liquored up at the bar again? “Mail Goggles” for Gmail might not help you break this bad habit, but it can prevent that from happening ever again. Available as a “Labs” feature in Gmail, Mail Goggles forces you to solve simple math problems before you are able to send a message between the hours that you set. Now if only they could prevent drunk tweeting (“dweeting”) and drunk Facebook updates too.

Image credit: mitarart / iStockphoto

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