My life in apps. A love story. Sort of.

Posted on January 3, 2013

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I’m not sure if it’s necessarily a good thing, but my life is run by apps lately.

My phone battery certainly doesn’t think it is a good thing.

However, if I could conduct a study on myself, I could hypothesize that my productivity has increased exponentially since I started integrating those little pieces of software into my life. Here’s how, from some of my favorites:

1. Astrid Tasks

There are plenty of list-making, day organizing apps out there, some even more critically acclaimed like Evernote, but Astrid has me adding even the most mundane things to my to-do list widget that sits on the front of my screen, because it forces you to add a time that you are going to complete these items, and starts to yell at you if you keep hitting snooze and not “complete.” Plus the little squid guy is pretty adorable.

Shared Tasks, To-do List & Reminders on iPhone, Android, & Web - Astrid

However, like most things in life, it’s all about who is using these apps and how he or she is using them. It’s just as easy to check it off the list so it stops buzzing at you, than it is to check it off because you actually did it. My technique? When I write my list items down, I write them in a stern tone. For instance “Clean your room, it’s gross,” instead of “Clean room.” Or “Go get a New Years outfit or you’ll run out of time!” instead of “Go to mall.”

2. MyFitnessPal

Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal - MyFitnessPal.com

I’ve been using this app for a couple of years now, and the only complaint that I have about it, is it doesn’t count strength training as a calorie burner. Besides that, it acts as a great food journal, because its database is pretty huge. And even if you’re not 100 percent accurate on your selections and your calorie counts, it’s fine because at least you’re still paying attention to your daily exercise and food intake. It also breaks down how much sugar, protein, carbs, sodium, etc. you’ve had during the day, versus the recommended daily intake, and alerts you in red numbers if you’re getting too much of that.

Another key element that I like about it is it gives you lower numbers of calories burned than the treadmill does if you input your speed and your time spent running. I’ve always thought the treadmill numbers are a bit inflated and using the app numbers instead of the machine numbers makes me feel more accurate.

3. Buffer/Pulse

This combination keeps me up to date on the news, as well as gives me a constant Twitter presence. For those of you who are not familiar with either app, Pulse is an aggregate app that compiles all of the latest headlines from many different news and magazine categories (news, technology, business, women’s health, etc.) onto your screen in front of you in a sharp, clean display. Once you click on a story, too, you are not immediately redirected to the original source, instead a Kindle-like screen comes up that makes the article easier to read, and at the end you can always follow the link to the original if you want to.

Pulse

I flip through my Pulse stories every morning while I’m eating breakfast, and since they’re web articles, they are not long, so I can usually read about five at a time. That’s where Buffer, the tweet scheduler comes in. Buffer has the greatest extensions with Google. A Buffer button can be added to your Chrome browser and you can either “Buffer” (schedule for later) pages that you’re reading or “post now.” And with my Android phone, I have the same liberties with the click of a button.

Buffer even let’s you create your own schedule for specific days right off the bat, so you don’t have to worry about times every day, it just does it automatically from the moment you hit save. AND it comes with analytics. Boom.

4. Mint

My accounting class has got me all up in personal finance now. Which is definitely a good thing, I do have bills to pay after all. Mint isn’t as efficient in updating my bank account balances as the individual bank apps are, but Mint does allow you to set budgets for certain areas of your life like gas stations, groceries, restaurants, etc. and it knows where to file each of your transactions when the come through, so you can monitor your spending in each area and make adjustments. There’s no better way to stop exorbitant eating out spending than have the total amount you’ve spent that week or month right in front of you, and then compared to how much you’re spending elsewhere.

Do I seem obsessive? Maybe. But no one has ever accused me of NOT being Type A.

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Posted in: My thoughts