“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
― Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is famous for many things, but I think I appreciate him most for making “Simple” sexy. His influence has scattered off in so many directions, that even my house thermostat has become simple to reprogram.
I would argue with Mr. Jobs, that simplicity is in the eye of the beholder.
My father who is approaching his 91st birthday called me on the phone the other day asking for help to install an app on his iPad. At that age, the mundane task of downloading an app quickly snowballs into a very complex series of sub-tasks, and sub-tasks of sub-tasks. My plan was a simple one, but the conversation quickly bogged down with the intricacies of a press to “tap” verses a press to “hold,” in an attempt to use the copy and paste functions of the iPad. Then apps started switching and neither of us knew which way was up. An hour later I had to end the call, we were both frustrated and had achieved nothing!
The Simplicity of Nudge App
The Nudge app for iOS and Android, developed by Nudge, LLC., is very succinctly described as, “… a healthy lifestyle hub bringing together the data from your favorite apps and gizmos in one place, with one score.” I have been using Nudge App for several months and I would agree with that description. At first I was turned off by the sheer simplicity of the Nudge App user interface. I like complexity and I enjoy seeing all my statistics in their raw, ugly state. The simplicity of Nudge App is that it actually seamlessly ingests data from more detailed and complex apps like; Fitbit, Up, Moves, RunKeeper, Strava and MapMyFitness. Then it boils them down to their core meaning and displays that data in a very simple graphic, which conveys a surprising amount of information.
Once I recovered from my "lack of data" shock, I started to see the beauty and simplicity of the Nudge App’s data info-graphic. There are five important data points that are conveyed on the Nudge App main screen; my food, sleep, exercise and water consumption and the Nudge factor number, with the highest achievable score being 110. As I improve my 4 variables, the the circle segments change color, thicken and the Nudge Factor number increases.
In the above screen, my Nudge Factor is at 40, which is a long way from 110 and I really need to sleep more, eat better and get more exercise. Now in a glance, I know what I have to work on to get my Nudge Factor number up. Maybe today I will walk a couple of subway stops, choose a better lunch and try my best to get to sleep earlier.
When I check the Nudge App in the morning, the score is updated so I know whether I’ve progressed towards my goals or not, and it sets me up for having a better day, today.
The second component of the Nudge App, which by it’s nature would most typically be filled out in the evening, is the logging screen. I simply tap on the circles that I want to add or subtract from. The color of the circles change from red, to yellow, to green as I approach the ideal of that metric.
Mindful Reflection on Your Day
There is evidence that being mindful and writing a journal before going to sleep has a very positive effect on one’s stress levels and outlook on life. I don’t write in a journal but I do fill out my Nudge App log, which in it’s own way is a type of journaling. It makes me think about all the healthy and unhealthy choices I did or didn’t make that day, and as a natural extension what I want to achieve tomorrow.
Taking these two components together; I start my day with an updated Nudge Factor (positive or negative) and I am reminded of the things I need to work on. I end my day with a reflection of what I did today and I am either thankful for progress or able to plan how I can do better tomorrow. For many of us, getting into a healthy groove feels like “moving mountains” at first, and then over time, it gets easier. The Nudge App can be a large part of that progress.
I have described how the Nudge App for iOS and Android takes the complexity out of quantified data and gives the user simple information for how they can achieve their health goals. Now Nudge, LLC. is taking another important step towards simplifying, personal positive change. They are introducing Nudge Coach which allows a health/lifestyle coach to engage with a client’s data (with the client's express permission, of course) as it is seen on the Nudge App running on the client's smartphone.
Let’s return to the story of my father and me trying to install an app on his iPad. We wasted our time dealing with details and not implementing the solution he wanted. Nudge App and Nudge Coach simplify, by cutting through all the noise of collecting client information, allowing a coach and client to interact on verifiable, real-world data and get to solutions much faster.
With a client's data displayed over time, trends are revealed and coaches can devise solutions that will be put to the test, and proven out with future data. The Nudge Factor, the one number that Nudge App displays as a cumulative status, can act like a warning light on the Nudge Coach dashboard. A low number can signal to a coach that a client might need extra attention to help them find their way.
There is also a HIPAA-compliant chat feature built right into both the Nudge App and Nudge Coach. A coach can quickly reach out and start a discussion with any one of their clients and the communications will show up through the Nudge App as a notification. The reverse is true, a client who has a question or needs some quick advice can simply chat with their coach through the Nudge App as if they were texting with a friend.
The Nudge Way
A Nudge App User
I have a simple app on my smartphone that enables me to understand, act-on and review what I do on a daily basis, as I work towards my health goals. If I am working with a health/lifestyle coach, I know they can see what I see, so I don’t waste time with minutia but instead spend quality time solving my problems quickly and allowing me to reach my goals.
All the noise, all the inaccurate information is gone and it is replaced with real-world data and communications. As a health/lifestyle coach, instead of spending my time and energy mining a patient for data, it’s in front of me whenever I need it. My client's Nudge Factor is a simple number that condenses information and insight, which allows me to reach out and solve issues before they fester into problems.
Personally, I am very excited about what Nudge, LLC is doing and I look forward to utilizing their technology towards the betterment of my client's lives, one small change at a time.
Paul Michaels is an entrepreneur and founder of a health startup, LifehackrDiet.com. Paul lost 30lbs in 6 months by simply making small changes to his lifestyle, and they added up to huge results. LifeHackrDiet teaches others how they can reinvent their lives and bodies using technique and technology.
Paul is now offering a free LifehackrDiet Lifestyle Assessment and is using Nudge Coach to work with his clients. If you are interested in having your free assessment please go to coach.lifehackrdiet.com and for lots of free actionable content check outblog.lifehackrdiet.com.
Paul’s weekly podcast can be found at podcast.lifehackrdiet.com and Phil Beene, Co-founder of Nudge, LLC. is interviewed by Paul here.