This App Is Like The Duolingo Of Productivity Lessons

I’d like to report that I finally watered my plants.

Review of the Ahead app that uses Duolingo-style learning to help build emotional intelligence.
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Have you ever had a chore on your to-do list that would take three seconds to complete, but you keep putting it off anyway? Same. Instead of scheduling a doctor’s appointment, answering an email, or watering a wilted plant, I’ll simply put off the task to another day and promptly ignore it again. This is the perfect example of procrastination, of course, and it’s just one of the many bad habits you can tackle using the Ahead app, which has over 6,000 positive reviews on the App Store.

Ahead calls itself the “Duolingo of emotional intelligence” because it allows you to pick something to work on — like keeping your cool when you’re mad, being more confident, coping with anxiety, or getting stuff done — and then it presents you with a personalized plan full of skills to practice until you improve.

Think about how you might do a quick Spanish or French lesson on Duolingo to keep a streak going, and that’s a lot like how Ahead works, too. You’re meant to open the app daily to work through a five-minute session. Each one helps you learn more about yourself and, as you pick up new techniques and life hacks, you also earn little awards in the form of motivating animations that will get you pumped about your progress.

Having Ahead downloaded is like having a “pocket coach” that helps you break bad habits. As a notorious procrastinator, I knew I had to give it a try.

Fast Facts

  • Price: Free to download, $19.99/month for a personalized plan
  • Best for: Learning emotional intelligence, coping with anxiety, building confidence
  • My rating: 3.5/5
  • What I like: Easy to use, functions as a mini life coach
  • What I don't like: Need to make in-app purchases for all perks

What To Know About The Ahead App

If you have bad habits, unhelpful thought patterns, or knee-jerk reactions that you’d like to change, then downloading Ahead might be worth your time. It’s a good tool if you tend to hold grudges, people-please, lose your temper, procrastinate, or get nervous in social settings. It’s also ideal if you consider yourself lazy, disorganized, or easily stressed.

According to Ahead, these characteristics and habits all fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence and impact your life more than you might realize. The app addresses gives users a lesson plan with ways to cope developed by behavioral scientists.

To make a change, all you have to do is invest five minutes a day to a lesson, and in a few weeks you should be able to build more confidence, resilience, and other helpful skills. As you move through your Ahead Journey, you’ll add new life hacks and habits to a Toolkit, which you can refer to within the app. There’s also a Community tab so see what other users are talking about and learning.

The app is free to download, but it does require you to buy a personalized plan, which you can only see once you pay $19.99 for a month or $39.99 for three months. If you’re really working on yourself, you might want to splurge and snag a Lifetime membership for $149. There are quite a few plans, and according to the app store reviews, some people say the cost is 100% worth it.

My Experience


As a long-time Duolingo user (who practices Spanish, German, and occasionally Welsh — just because) I could instantly see why people say Ahead reminds them of the popular language-learning app.

It’s set up in much the same way. You work through lessons and unlock treasures as you go, and it also encourages you to come back every day to keep a streak going. The animations are cute, just like the Duolingo owl, and it also uses multiple tactics to help the lessons stick.

Ahead might ask you to fill in the blanks in a sentence or pick the right answer to a series of questions to help you remember what you learned.

Also like Duolingo, you can toggle between multiple lessons at once. I clicked on Procrastination, Anxiety, and Confidence — three areas of my life I wouldn’t mind working on.


To get started, I decided to focus only on the Procrastination series, since I’ve been feeling particularly disorganized lately. I went through and answered questions about my daily habits, and it was honestly kind of fun. Who doesn’t love a personality quiz?

Questions included how likely I am to put off a task, and if it’s because I stare at my phone or feel overwhelmed or bored. According to the app, everyone procrastinates differently — not just because you’re lazy. Ahead categorized the three different types of procrastination and named them, too. There’s the Juggler, the Artist, and the Thrill-seeker.

Jugglers tend to procrastinate because they try to do too much at once; Artists put things off because they want things to be perfect, and are often afraid of failing; and Thrill-seekers are only motivated by stress and chaos, so they’ll wait until the last second to get something done.

Turns out, I’m a mix of all three but I’m most often a Juggler, which felt pretty spot-on. With this info, the app customized my “Journey” or lesson plan. It also noted that not understanding my own tendencies would be a lot like trying to mop up a spill with an umbrella: If you use the wrong tools to help yourself, you won’t get very far, which was a helpful reminder.


Usually, when I realize I’m procrastinating, I’ll get up with a surge of energy and write a lengthy to-do list. I’ll jot things in my planner, my Notes app, on little sticky notes, or even on the back of my hand, and these lists include actual chores and things I need to complete, as well as vague ideas, hopes, and dreams.

Even though I feel organized in the moment as I sit amongst my notes, Ahead pointed out that this habit is what’s adding to my lack of desire to do anything. Because my list gets so long, it actually makes me feel more frazzled and then I never take the first step to complete anything.

To get organized, the app suggested I start by simplifying my to-do list. Instead of writing down every little thing I’ve ever needed to do, it said I should write down my biggest, most important tasks and focus on those first. Oh, and it also said I should have just one list.


This was the first “technique” I learned on my anti-procrastination journey. From there, I scanned through a slideshow and answered more questions to learn about this tendency of mine.

Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind when breaking bad habits and starting new ones is that you actually have to put your new skills into practice. So the next day, instead of writing on my hand or on the back of crumpled receipts in my purse, I sat down in the morning and wrote down the most important things I had to do that day — this became my master to-do list.

The other nebulous things, which I still desperately wanted to get out of my head, went into my Notes app or a journal, but they weren’t part of my list of chores. “By limiting our to-do list to tasks we can realistically mark ‘done,’ we protect our focus,” the app said, “and save room for all the little joys in life that aren’t on the list.”


When you aren’t getting schooled by your daily lesson, you can use the Community tab to check out what other people are discussing on the app. There’s an Advice section, as well as Encouragement and Solidarity sections.

One person shared that they finally texted their therapist to make an appointment, while another said, “I did the dishes!” I thought it was super cute that everyone was sharing their daily wins and cheering one another on. It was also nice to see that I’m not the only one who puts off the tiniest tasks.

The Takeaway


I’ve been moving through all my daily lessons for the past week, which have also touched on things like how to catch the early signs of procrastination, the idea of “eating my frog” which refers to doing the thing I hate most first thing in the morning to get it out of the way, and how I can stay “in the zone” once I finally get a task started.

Each skill builds on itself and, just like Duolingo, you move from level to level until you reach the end of your journey. While I’ll often bounce back and forth between Spanish and German, I’ve been sticking to the Procrastination lessons in Ahead, just to make sure they really sink in. Once I finish with this skill in a few weeks, I plan to work on boosting my confidence so I can be cool as a cucumber in social settings.

While I don't think this app is budget-friendly, it seems to offer enough information to make the cost worthwhile, and the info does resonate. I’ve been having mini epiphanies — and I’ve also been getting a lot more done.

The shortened to-do list idea has made the biggest difference, and I’m happy to report that I’ve actually watered my plants, made a doctor's appointment, and put away my ever-growing pile of laundry. Next up on my to-do list? Posting about my shiny new skills in the Community tab.

Studies referenced:

Bru-Luna, LM. (2021). Emotional Intelligence Measures: A Systematic Review. Healthcare (Basel). doi: 10.3390/healthcare9121696.