Use your PC to help keep New Year resolutions

Use your PC to help keep New Year resolutions

Fortify your willpower and track your progress with these useful tools

So many New Year resolutions are abandoned by the end of January. If you’re already struggling to stick to yours, it might be time to press your PC into service this year to make sure you keep the momentum going for the next 12 months. Read on to discover how.

Lose weight

After a seasonal splurge, many of us need to shed unwanted pounds. There are loads of fad diets around – many of which want to relieve you of your hard-earned cash – but your PC can help without hitting your wallet. The NHS has a handy online body mass index (BMI) calculator that will help you learn your healthy weight, and give advice on how to reach it. You’ll also find lots of advice on safe dieting, healthy food swaps and how to keep the weight off, in the Lose Weight home page.

Find out your current BMI and your safe, healthy, target weight with this free tool from the NHS.

Quit smoking

As with losing weight, giving up smoking isn't something you can achieve overnight and it’s best to get as much help as possible. Many GP surgeries offer clinics, and your computer can also help by telling you how much money you’re saving by quitting, with another NHS tool. To help you when cravings hit, there's also a desktop widget that keeps track of what you've saved, and deals up a daily dose of tips to help you keep away from the cigarettes.

Exercise more

We all know that regular exercise helps maintain good health, but it also helps manage stress and ward off problems like depression. So why is it so difficult to do? Forming a new, positive habit takes repetition and, until the habit sticks, you'll need reminders and gentle persuasion. This is where Exercise Reminders comes in. It's free to sign up and you receive a simple daily email that gently motivates and reminds you to exercise, whatever your level of fitness. Each email is different and includes useful information and a little inspiration.

Sign up for a daily reminder and some gentle encouragement to get active from Exercise Reminders.

Managing money better

It's easy to say that you want to handle your finances better, but without some expert help you'll soon run into difficulties. Successful budgeting is key to financial success, and this boils down to remembering all your outgoings. If you find it hard to keep track of your spending, BudgetBrain – from the Money Saving Expert – will come to the rescue. It’s an online budgeting tool that helps you keep track of every area of expenditure, and helps you make sensible decisions about future plans. And when you’ve resolved to manage your finances better, check out our Explained Guide to see how your PC can help you take full control of them.

Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert Budget Brain helps you track incoming and outgoing funds.

Build new relationships 

If you’re finding it tricky to meet the love of your life, it might be that you’re looking in the wrong places. If you put some effort into your search and nurture other interests, your chances of success are much greater. Use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to explore interests where you may meet someone who has a similar outlook to you. Dating sites like Plenty of Fish can help, but remember that you're more attractive to a potential partner if you have well developed interests. Finding lasting love is about more than simply comparing CVs.

Keeping in touch 

It's all too easy to drift apart from family and friends, especially if you live long distances apart. Social networks can help you stay in the loop, allowing you to swap regular updates with a bunch of friends at once. Skype is very handy, especially for overseas contacts. PC-to-PC connections are free, as long as you're both online, and you can talk via instant messages, audio calls or face-to-face. Get started with the help of our step-by-step guide.

Learn something new 

It helps to put some structure into any learning you take on. Evening classes are ideal but if money is tight, your humble PC can come to the rescue. The BBC provides a range of online courses for adults to help you do anything – from brush up on English and Maths skills, to learning a range of modern languages. There are also practical courses in subjects such as gardening, and food and catering. For workplace skills, try the Alison website, which has a range of free tester courses.

Learn a new skill with a structured course, like those provided by the BBC.

Get organised 

Lists can work wonders with organisation but they can't remind you of things that need doing – and that can result in the list growing ever longer. This is where a good task manager can help, by keeping track of your jobs and ‘to dos’, and sending timely reminders by email or as pop-ups. Outlook has a task list, or the Calendar in Windows 8 can help – see our step-by-step guide to using it.

Alternatively, there's GTD-Free, a program that helps organise lists according to context, as well as due date. This means you can select a list – depending on where you are or where you're going – so you have the right resources available.