When I tried to use habit trackers, they actually worked for the first couple weeks. However, I soon noticed a few shortcomings with some habit trackers:

  1. Gamifying habit tracking doesn’t seem to work for me, as it abstracts away the actual habit a bit too far away. If my goal is to play a game, doing the habit itself feels like a chore. I want my habit tracker to be very in-touch with reality.
  2. Habit trackers with friend features don’t work very well for me because my competitive spirit ends up getting in the way. If I feel like I’m falling behind, I’d want to quit, and if I’m too far ahead, it’d get boring and I’d also quit. Or I might be tempted to skip the habit altogether to get easy points and win against others. I feel like habits should be an individual thing. Some habits are easier to others, and some are harder for others. It’s fundamentally unfair for a habit to lead to a standardized score which can be compared with others.
  3. Some habit trackers lack good visual representation for off-days. For example, strength training is something that should not be done on a daily basis as that may put too much strain on the body. However, with some habit trackers, it feels like I’m breaking a streak when I’m taking a rest day. I feel it’s important to recognize when I’m supposed to not do the habit, but still have it count somehow.
  4. Since habit trackers are basically a phone-only thing, with the only method of recognizing a habit as complete being me manually tapping a button, there is a lot of friction when it comes to habit tracking. What I mean by friction is that I need to go out of my way to mark a habit as complete, even though the act of completing the habit isn’t actually part of performing the habit. For example, tapping the checkmark on my phone to signify that I have done the laundry doesn’t actually contribute to doing the laundry.

An attempt to fix the habit tracker

The main purpose of the Habit Management System (HMS) is to create a new type of habit tracker that reduces the amount of friction when it comes to marking habits as complete, while having a clean user interface that addresses the remaining non-friction-related points mentioned above. My idea to achieve this involves a habit tracking app, similar to the ones that already exist, but with an IoT interface on the cloud side that allows sensor modules to automatically check off something as done.

For example, a weight sensor attached to my laundry basket could be programmed to automatically mark the laundry as done when it notices a significant weight reduction for a reasonably long period of time (to avoid false positives). As taking the laundry out of the laundry basket is part of doing the laundry, there is essentially no friction when it comes to marking the laundry as done.

With the habit completion marking completely automated, the app would be used for either other habits that are harder to automate or for viewing statistics, which I feel are very in touch with reality and give me a little motivational boost.

1st Iteration

Unfortunately, for the 1st iteration of project HMS, I won’t be implementing the hardware side. This is because I want the 1st iteration to act as a mini-project. I want to solely implement the application side for now to let me get up to speed with working with Flutter and Pocketbase (my backend), which will be paving the way for project TTMS, which involves far more complicated data management.

So yes, I am creating just another habit tracking app for now. As I am fully in control of the codebase, configuring APIs to allow microcontrollers with sensors can be done in the future without too much extra hassle, which will lead to the final completed version of HMS.