App of the Day: Beeminder

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App of the Day: Beeminder

Alyson Burton / Illustrator

Alyson Burton / Illustrator

Alyson Burton / Illustrator

Alyson Burton / Illustrator

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Whether you’re spending too much time on Facebook, want to commit to 10 minutes of exercise every day or are desperately trying to quit smoking, most students can use an extra push in achieving their goals.

Beeminder is the app that can help keep you accountable. The app charts your progress and can motivate you to stay committed by slowly taking away the only thing that can surely keep any student going—money.

After setting up your account with Beeminder, users can set a goal type (weight loss, for example) and a timeframe to reach that goal (such as losing 20 pounds by the end of the year). Beeminder then creates an automatic plan for you to keep you accountable, plotting your progress as you go. If your goal is to lose weight, you would enter your starting weight and a goal, such as losing half a pound per week.

By default, Beeminder checks in with you daily via email or text, or automatically syncs to a service like RescueTime, FitBit or Duolingo to see if you’ve met your daily goal. This can be tweaked to be easier or harder by adjusting the “dial,” a button that sits just under your progress map.

Beeminder is harsh if you drift off track. If you find yourself off target, your data point for the day will show up red, and you’ll have until midnight to get back on track. If you end your day still derailed and you’ve never linked your credit card, Beeminder will freeze, and you’ll need to restart from scratch. The catch? You need to pledge real money to do so. If you go off track again, Beeminder will charge you 5 dollars, or however much you’ve pledged, and the process repeats.

Beeminder anticipates this, however; it that knows most users will go off track at some point. This is remedied by giving users a one week delay for any changes to your goal to take effect, minimizing your chances of quitting the goal entirely if you cheat or skip a day.

If you’re up for this crazy commitment to incentivize yourself, Beeminder can be a tremendously powerful tool; but be careful, because ignoring your goals can get expensive.

The app is free and available on iPhone and Android devices.