In another blog post, “The iPhone Makeover! How to Have a Healthier Relationship with Your Phone,” I talked about how to give yourself what’s I’m calling an iPhone Makeover. This involves making a few simple changes on your phone and reorganizing the layout so that it becomes less of a distraction throughout the day. One of my tips was to download new apps on your phone that are more in-line with your values and how you would rather be spending your free time. This inspired me to share with you the 9 apps that I’m loving right now. All of these apps have changed the relationship with my phone so going on my phone has become a more mindful experience instead of an epic time-waster.
Strides is an incredibly easy-to-use goal and habit tracker. This app allows you to set a habit that you want to do every day, and then it sends you reminders to keep you accountable. Once you finish a good habit, you swipe right to show it’s completed. This app has become so helpful for me. I can’t count how many times I said, “I want to start meditating.” “I want to start reading before bed.” “I should take my vitamins every day.” “I should be drinking more water.” “I should be reading a new article every day.” But the thing is, as much as we say we want to do something if it’s not a part of our daily habits and daily routine, it’s easy to forget and not do it at all! With Strides, I’ve finally started doing all those little things I’ve been saying I should do or I want to do. Plus, it’s so satisfying at the end of the day to see that all of your good habits are done, like making your bed or drinking enough water. Thanks to this app I’ve changed certain health habits, started writing more for my blog, and have already read a bunch of books.
This is another app I’m probably too obsessed with right now. Goodreads helps you discover new books, allows you to read and write reviews, and allows you to rate the books you’ve finished. My favorite feature about Goodreads is that whenever I discover a new book I want to read, I add it to my “Want To Read” list. Of course, everyone knows about Goodreads, but many people don’t actually utilize this feature. It’s become incredibly helpful to know what book I want to read next instead of trying to remember whenever I’m wandering through a bookstore.
I used to know absolutely nothing about meditation until I downloaded the Headspace app. This app gives you guided meditations each day, provides you with information about meditation before the start of a new session, and has animated videos that explain how it works. Ever since I downloaded this app I’ve slept better, had less anxiety, been more productive, been more focused, and have been overall much happier. If you’re interested in learning about meditation and beginning a practice even if it’s only 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day, I highly suggest Headspace.
4. Google Calendar
This one is super basic, I know. But the reason why I’m suggesting this is because until last year I fought the idea of an online planner. I would get irritated when someone would dare suggest I use Google Calendar and I’d spew of countless reasons why my planner filled with post-it notes, scribbles, and horrific handwriting was someone better and more organized than an online calendar. But it wasn’t. And the most difficult thing about having a paper calendar was that I always had to tell people “Let me get back to you when I check my planner.” So finally, I broke down. I threw away that paper planner and downloaded Google Calendar and my life has gotten 1,000 times easier. Everything I’m doing is on my phone, and it’s color coordinated! Exciting stuff, I know. Plus, Google Calendar allows you to make multiple calendars and then share them with other people. So now I have one for work that I share with my boss and one for my personal life where I can keep track of birthday, doctors appointments, vacation plans, nanny jobs, etc. If you were like me and you haven’t made the switch to Google Calendar yet, it’s time.
Since I’ve downloaded the Ted app I haven’t looked back. This app allows you to explore thousands of videos from the most remarkable people in just one app. Now, when I find myself reaching for my phone I like to watch a Ted Talk and feed my curiosities instead of getting sucked into mindless scrolling whenever I find myself a bit bored. Ted even puts together playlists so if you’re interested in a certain topic like robots, or different cultures, or brain health, or friendship, or music, or science – they have a playlist for that! Thanks to this app, I’ve learned something new every day since I downloaded it.
How did I ever live without Venmo? I used to have to go out of my way to hunt down an ATM and pay someone back or keep track of what I owed someone for lunch or whatever it was we were doing. Venmo allows you to plug in your bank account information and send someone money right from your phone. The only downside is it takes a few days until it’s out of pending, but I’ll take that over going on a scavenger hunt for an ATM or having to wait a day to get to the bank. Or even worse, forgetting to pay someone back forcing them to have an awkward conversation with you to ask for money. Don’t be that friend, download Venmo.
7. Word of the Day
I downloaded this app after I learned that learning one new world in our native language each day helps expand vocabulary, strengthens memory, and improves brain health! Each day a new word is hand picked by English professionals. This app allows you to log on each day read the definition of the word of the day, read a sentence to help you understand it, listen to the pronunciation, and save the words you like. So now, if I’m writing and struggling to come up with a word, I check my list of saved words on Word of the Day. As someone who loves to write and studies communications, I’ve been loving this app.
Stitcher is my favorite way to listen to podcasts right now and is one of the Top 5 Podcasts Apps of 2018. This app allows you to save your favorite podcasts, explore new shows, create playlists, and use Carplay. I also like how it automatically plays the next episode and makes it super easy to rewind and fast forward through an episode in case you missed something or want to avoid hearing an advertisement.
I’ve been a fan of Spotify for a long time now, but lately, I’m loving this app even more than usual. I used to exclusively listen to Spotify in the car, but I’m enjoying this app even more after I started listening to the “Deep Focus” playlists. I play them all the time when I’m writing or working which I’ve found keeps me calm and focused, creates an engaging atmosphere, and helps me concentrate longer than I do without the focus playlists. Five stars to Spotify for making work more pleasant!
That’s it for the apps that I’m loving at the moment. I hope this list will inspire you to try some of these out and see if they’re working for you. Like I always say in my posts, technology should be a tool that we should use to add value to our lives and make us feel fulfilled, grounded, and more productive. These are the apps that allowed me to reconnect with the important things instead of filling my free time with Candy Crush or social media.
What apps have you decided to add after giving yourself an iPhone Makeover? Which ones are your favorite right now? And the real question is, are they making you happier or helping you be more productive? Comment below and let me know!
Photographer: Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.