New Year's resolutions are easy to make, but harder to keep – especially as the days and then weeks march on and you're once again swept up in the busy-ness of life.
That's when your smartphone can help make a difference, especially when it comes to setting aside the small slices of time to achieve your goals. This could be during your commute, on your daily walk or even over a morning cup of coffee.
And remember: you don't have to wait until January 1st to kick things off. In fact, why should you? If it's important enough to do in 2020 it's important enough to start today.
Executive Traveller has no affiliation with and receives no commission from any of the apps listed in this article.
Learn a language
Picking up another tongue is great for leisure and business travel alike – even if it's just a rudimentary grasp, enough for getting directions or ordering at a restaurant.
Our pick for business travellers is Duolingo, which offers 35 languages and is fully usable without any sort of subscription. It's good for learning vocabulary, grammar and common phrases using a variety of lesson techniques, including the ability to grade your speaking.
Courses are divided into various topics, each focusing on a particular theme. Before jumping into a lesson, guides can help you understand the various quirks in grammar and sentence structure that many languages have. Each lesson only takes around 10 minutes, meaning you can easily fit them in during a commute or before bed.
If you want to eliminate all the ads and take your lessons offline, then Duolingo Plus is a recurring subscription that could help you be even more productive.
(Just don't plan to become fluent in a new language solely through any app: take advantage of foreign-language TV shows and movies, online radio stations, newspapers and magazines, as well as real-life conversations with fluent speakers.)
Duolingo Plus: A$20.99 a month or A$119.88 a year, 7-day free trial, sign-up through the app or online.
In a society that gets increasingly loud and frenetic, finding moments of quietness becomes even more elusive. Mindfulness not only reduces life’s turbulence but super-charges your business edge.
Calm, and the slightly less-feature packed Headspace, are subscription-based mindfulness apps (for those interested in a free meditation app that doesn't require a subscription, try InsightTimer).
Calm's free offerings are limited to a handful of timed meditation options, the first day of multi-day meditation programs, a breathing exercise and a sleep story. A premium account is required to unlock the full library of Calm, including an original Daily Calm session and various masterclasses. Most content can be downloaded offline for listening on-the-go.
The tracks on Calm cover a wide range of issues that you might be facing, such as anxiety or the loss of a loved one. The idea behind Calm and other mindfulness apps is to give yourself at least 10 minutes a day to relax and listen to guided or unguided meditation sessions. Collect your thoughts, relax and just breathe.
Learn new skills
Wanting to sharpen your skills, either to progress in your current field, switch careers or just as a hobby? Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers a vast collection of video courses taught by industry professionals, covering a range of topics primarily in the business, tech and creative industries.
Videos range from bite-size snippets suitable for the airport lounge to longer sessions that you could save offline and focus on while you're cruising at 30,000 feet.
Courses cover topics such as leadership management, online marketing, photography and IT – all interesting and potentially important skills that could benefit you in the future. Membership also includes LinkedIn Premium networking tools that can help boost your online profile.
Apart from a free trial, this is one app that you'll require an ongoing subscription to use.
Stay healthy and eat well
Busy business travellers spending lots of time in the air or on the road could easily give in to the temptation of tucking into a late-night business class meal or room service at the hotel. Irregular travel and eating patterns can contribute to lethargy and weight gain, amongst many other problems.
MyFitnessPal helps you stay on track with your weight loss (or gain) goals. By logging what you eat and what exercise you do, along with some other personal metrics such as height and daily activity levels, the app will help you achieve your target.
The free version does basic kilojoule counting to guide you towards your desired weight (e.g. losing 0.5kg a week), depending on your set goal. The premium version gets rid of all the ads and unlocks a raft of extra benefits such as food and nutrient analysis, and more flexibility over setting calorie goals.
Ultimately, this app is suited for those who are determined to achieve their resolutions and can faithfully record everything they eat and do for exercise. Data entry can be tedious, but MyFitnessPal lets you scan food product barcodes to quickly add nutritional info, and keep a list of your favourite meals handy.
MyFitnessPal Premium: A$12.99 a month or A$64.99 a year, 30-day free trial, sign-up through the app or online.
Get fitter and run more
If you're set on improving your diet and overall health in 2020, then perhaps boosting your fitness and strength is another resolution that goes hand-in-hand.
C25K by Zen Labs Fitness is all the rage right now, partnering with the likes of MyFitnessPal, Fitbit and Samsung to offer an integrated fitness experience.
Short for "couch to 5km", this app aims to get couch potatoes off their backsides and help inexperienced runners gradually complete a 5km run with ease. It's not too time-consuming either, taking 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, for a total of 8 weeks.
The basic free app will have everything you need to complete your goals, but the subscription upgrade offers tailored music for your workouts and the ability to track distance and calories.
C25K Subscription: A$4.99 a month or A$49.99 a year, 7-day free trial, sign-up through the app.
Lose weight and build strength
Of course, this goal is inter-connected with getting fitter and eating well. But if your primary aim is to have a leaner physique and build core muscle strength, then the 'Lose Weight' family of apps by various publishers is also one to consider, each targetting different needs (i.e. for men, for women). Most of these apps can sync with Google Fit or Apple Health.
Specifically trialling the 'Lose Weight App for Men' by Leap Fitness on Android, it has a well-defined 30-day step plan, each with a selection of exercises you can do at home (or in the hotel room) without any equipment.
All you need is some space, and of course, the willpower to not skip days between sessions where possible. The Apple App store has a similar collection of 30-day weight loss apps by a different publisher.
Track your habits
Finally, even if you have a 2020 resolution that doesn't require a phone (such as reading more books or cooking at home more often), there is a simple app you can use to make sure you still stay on track regardless.
For Android users, that's the completely ad-free and open-source app Loop - Habit Tracker. This is a deceptively nifty program that lets you input your desired habits and goals, and then reminds you to do them as often as you need. Loop shows all sorts of different stats so you can see how often you're meeting your goals, and you can create widgets that show your progress automatically on your phone's home screen.
Loop - Habit Tracker: Completely free, no subscriptions or ads. Available for Android.
iPhone and iPad users can find a similar Habit Tracker - Your Goals app (by a different developer), which is also free and shares the same functionality as its Android sibling. For every habit, you can see the evolution of your goals over time including daily results, best-uninterrupted streak and your best days of the month.
Habit Tracker - Your Goals: Completely free, no subscriptions. Available for Apple.