From time to time, I tend to get in over my head by saying “yes” to too many things. My solution to this has been to limit my consumption. One way in which I do this is by limiting the number of apps I have on my phone. I like knowing my phone is organized and that I can easily find what I am looking for in a few seconds. My home screen is dedicated to the apps I use most. As you can see below I have my most used in the top row – Messages, Bible, Google Maps, Camera. Below that I have other essentials and things I don’t want to have to go looking for like settings, calendar, etc.
My second page is dedicated to folders. I group common apps together to try and save space and reduce clutter. From time to time, I will go through and make sure all the apps in those photos are essential. If I find an app I have not used in a long time, I will make a decision on whether or not to keep it. Usually I do this every few weeks and I end up deleting a couple of apps at a time, which not only reduces my clutter, but frees up precious memory space.
If we go back to my first page, you may have noticed the five apps at the bottom of the page. Those are my top 5 self-improvement apps. With these, I want to learn and master new skills, while enhancing my mental and physical capabilities.
As of this moment, these five apps are best helping me make that happen.
- Duolingo – This app is completely free. Duolingo is dedicated to learning languages. Currently they offer courses in five languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese), but they are working on rolling out more. There are no adds, fees, or gimmicks; all you have to do is create a free account and you are on your way to becoming multilingual. According to the site, an independent study recently found that Duolingo trumps university-level language learning. And the learning is gamified, so it’s fun. I have been using Duolingo for a couple of weeks to learn French and I can already tell you it works. I may not be anywhere near proficient, but I can understand more than ever and hold a basic conversation. I highly recommend this app!
- Lumosity – This app is awesome. My wife first told me about it and I knew I had to check it out. I have lots of memory issues. I don’t remember things well and I am very forgetful. Lumosity is about improving brains and lives. It’s a tool designed to improve cognitive functions via daily training, in the form of games. The program was designed by neuroscientists and is supposed to improve abilities such as working memory, visual attention and executive function in all sorts of people. There is a free version and you can pay to upgrade. For now I am using the free mobile version and have already begun noticing subtle differences in my ability to recall information.
- Fitbit – I have written a bit about my Fitbit Force device in the last few months. It has a companion mobile app that syncs directly to the device via bluetooth. I am a big fan. It is a simple and sleek interface and readily lists all information I want to see, such as steps taken, miles walked, etc. I can also use the app/device to track my sleep patterns and set the silent vibrating alarm feature. This app and device have been the catalyst for me to start taking my physical fitness seriously.
- MyFitnessPal – This app is awesome and free. I know it has a number of capabilities, but I only use it for one thing. Calorie counting. I know there are plenty of different opinions and schools of thought on how to get in shape, but I have found this system to work for me. Based on my weight and height and my target weight, MyFitnessPal calculates how many calories I should eat every day, without doing any exercise, to reach my goal weight in a set amount of time. You can customize the amount of time here and it will calculate appropriately. I can then input everything I eat and it will count my calories against my target for the day. Between that and the fact that it will sync with my Fitbit app to account for calories burned via exercise, I have lost close to ten pounds in under two months. So far, so good.
- Evernote – If you don’t know what Evernote is, you are definitely missing out. It is the greatest note-taking, writing, journaling, research, whatever you use it for app out there. Not only is it conducive to all of those things, but it also syncs across all platforms. You can download the app on your phone, take notes at a meeting and when you get back to your office, just download the desktop version and your notes will immediately be there for you to use. You don’t even have to do anything to sync them together. You can write a grocery list in Evernote on your desktop and then take it to the store with you on your phone. You can collaborate with friends and colleagues on documents, plan trips, and even save webpages inside of Evernote.
I love all of these apps. Each is having a tremendous impact on my life.
I am closing in on completing goals I have had for years because of these apps and the supplemental support they offer. I highly recommend you give at least one of these five apps a shot and see how you like them.
If you have favorite apps that are changing your life and you think others might benefit, leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!