I try (and fail a lot!) to not bury my face in various of screens all day. It’s tough. I write on my laptop. I use my iPad as a supplementary resource while watching television or movies. Yes, two screens at once, but sometimes I have to know what other shows a certain actor has been in! And I’m on my phone constantly with Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram (side note: if you want to keep up with me, those are the three main social media channels I use). Sometimes, having this much screen access is nothing more than a time suck. Do I really need to check everything as much as I do? Probably not. And I have started, at the suggestion of Tim Ferriss, reading fiction before bed. I have committed to only reading actual paper books for this.
This is not to proclaim that all digital tools are frivolous and unnecessary. This era of online connectivity has brought us some powerful resources which have greatly improved my life and productivity. Today I thought it would be fun to look at a few apps that I use at least daily, if not hourly, which have now become necessities in my routine.
This is probably the most important tool in my writing arsenal. I keep track of blog post ideas, write my first drafts, scan resources using the complementary Scannable app, and even incorporate my Getting Things Done system using The Secret Weapon. Having a resource like Evernote that syncs between my phone and computer is magical. I can work at my desk, on the train, in my doctor’s waiting room, basically wherever. If I get an idea, I won’t lose it. I am even in the midst of scanning all of my favorite recipes into a notebook titled “Cookbook”. The only issue i have with Evernote is the newest change limiting the free version to only two devices. But, hey, it’s free, so what can I really complain about?
I’m a firm believer that the healthiest meals are the ones you prepare yourself. I can’t cook every day, but I try to cook for the family as much as possible. When cooking meals at home, the likelihood that I’m going to use more than one burner is high. Like most people, my oven only has one timer. So, one issue I have is keeping track of multiple heated surfaces. Thyme is a simple app that features concurrent timers for one oven and four burners. It helps me keep my dinners organized and served properly. One feature I really like about Thyme is the ability to use the app with one hand. Quite often I’m holding some ingredient or utensil, and being able to quickly set a timer is fantastic.
Meditation is a crucial element to my day. I’ve been so busy in the mornings lately that I have let my practice slip a bit, but I will soon rectify that. I’ve tried a few apps, and Headspace is the one that works best for me. It’s informative, fun, and effective. Over the past two years, I’ve noticed a decrease in emotional reactions paired with a generally more peaceful nature. My brain is also calmer allowing me to be more productive with my day. Do not write off meditation as some froo-froo nonsense. This works, and Headspace has helped me dramatically.
Pocket is sort of like Evernote in reverse. Instead of allowing me to work when time permits, it allows me to consume other people’s work when time permits. I can save links, articles, videos, etc., all synced to my devices for reading, without an Internet connection, whenever I want. One of my favorite features is that I can connect Pocket with Feedly, and save any blog post I want to peruse later.
I mean, who doesn’t want to be woken up by The Rock singing to them every morning? This app is packed with funny, motivational, and energizing alarms. On top of that, each day includes a motivational image or video from The Rock pushing you to get up and get going. This app is solely responsible for making sure I’m up for my 5:30am Crossfit class. It makes early wake ups fun...seriously.
What are some your indispensable apps? What am I missing from my list? Let me know in the comments!