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'Productivity' Apps Motivate With A Dose Of Punishment


And we end today's tech segment with a round up of some special productivity apps for your smartphone. They help you get things done with a little dose of punishment.

Thorin Klosowski wrote about this recently for the blog, Lifehacker.

THORIN KLOSOWSKI: If you're the kind of person that would rather have something forceful to make you get out of bed or go to the gym, that's the kind of person these are targeted at. If you prefer positive reinforcement, this is not where you want to look.

CORNISH: That's right. Think negative. Think evil.


CORNISH: That's the Alarm Clock app, Wake N Shake. The name explains it. You have to shake your phone to shut off the alarm. And the amount of shaking needed is adjustable, so you can make it easy or hard on those arms.

KLOSOWSKI: Yeah, you can really force yourself into getting out of bed at that point. If you set it up as maniacal as it can go, it's not fun.


CORNISH: Well, if shaking is not your thing, how about an alarm app that publicly shames you into getting out of bed?

KLOSOWSKI: There's one called BetterMe, that when you hit snooze on it, it automatically posts to your Facebook that you did not get up in time. If you don't want your friends knowing that you get up late every single day, that would be the way to go.

CORNISH: I predict a lot of unfriending with that one.

Now, waking up on time might be hard, but exercising even harder for lots of us. So apps like GymPact motivate by working out your wallet.

KLOSOWSKI: Everyone that goes to the gym gets money from everyone that doesn't.

CORNISH: Once you sign up, you commit to a set number of workout days per week and how much it'll cost you if you miss one. Your smartphone's GPS even verifies when you're actually at the gym. But if you skip a day so you can, say, eat potato chips, your cash goes to the people who stuck to their pact.

KLOSOWSKI: You have to really value money for this to be a motivator for you. Otherwise, you're going to be fine throwing your money away.


CORNISH: OK, money might not get you up and running. But maybe the Zombie Apocalypse will.


CORNISH: That's from the app, Zombies, Run. As you jog, it plays an audio adventure in your headphones. Zombies have taken over, so you're sent on running missions to pick up vital supplies. But watch out.

KLOSOWSKI: Suddenly, it just tells you to run because zombies are near you. And it just scares the crud out of you and you have to run.


CORNISH: And run, Klosowski does. Our Lifehacker editor says he never really cared for running. But that changed once he had fake zombies growling at his heels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.