As much as I think I want to live the simple life and adore the Little House series, I’m a millennial. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a computer in my home (Duke Nukum and DOS and a computer that weighed more than I did? Man, those were awesome!). I’ve had a cell phone since I was barely 14 and I spent my teens years on napster downloading music. I’m not sure how being a millennial became such an insult but with news articles running around daily about millennials being lazy, entitled, etc – I am careful to barely out myself as just-barely-30-millennial-ish. Instead of focusing on that negativity, let’s bring some real talk into life and be grateful for all the wonderful aspects of technology! But first, a confession…
I am horrible with technology. It makes me uncomfortable and it must be EASY for me to use it. I’m no stranger to giving up on an app that promises to organize my life (Thanks Evernote, that was fun) but in the same breathe, I can admit my reliance on Google Calendar like it’s a pace-maker for the household reminding us all when to beat! With this little confession of mine, everything on this list has dramatically increased my quality of life AND was simple enough for me to pick it up and learn instantly. If you’re looking to improve your life, chances are some of these apps are needed!
#1 – QUALITY TIME
Since I outted myself as a barely-30-millenial, I will say that growing up with technology has an ugly side to it. Yes, I’m blessed as heck to have so many resources to aid in my daily life but I believe that addiction to technology is real. It’s hurting authentic connections to other people in communities and decreasing our face-to-face interaction time with each other. I became aware of how much I was using my phone when I realized I needed to charge my phone mid-day often last year. I had faced some intense struggles with my final pregnancy that limited my physical capabilities drastically. I coped by checking out more often than I think was healthy. With so much to do on my phone (pocket computer, who are we kidding?!), I knew I needed a better understanding of my own habits to analyze what was really going on.
Quality Time is an amazing app! It’s free and incredibly insightful. I highly recommend it to anyone who is invested in limiting their unconscious habit of picking up their phone too much. It gives you real data like what apps are you using the most, what time of day is your peak-use, how many times did you unlock your phone and the best information for me – how many hours are you losing of your life to your phone! I am not giving up my smart phone but in pursuit of the best version of myself I can be, I know this app has helped me create awareness of my own habits and I’ve cut my ‘mindless’ phone time in half! If you have ever considered that you might be using your phone a little too much, I strongly encourage you to download Quality Time and learn more about what you are doing with your time.
Clearly, I set my alarm at 12:36 am for my desired wake up time of 5:45 am but I smashed my phone for 21 seconds and decided to sleep until 7:47 am instead. Ooops.
#2 – CALM
I brought up mindfulness in my first recommendation, but this app took mindfulness to a whole new level for me. Calm is a daily use item in my life now and I am incredibly thankful for all it offers to my life. Calm is a tool used for guided or non-guided meditation. It has many sections to appeal to the diverse needs of the community it serves -Some examples of the content include: 7 days dedicated to Managing Stress, guided Calming Anxiety tracks and wonderful Guided Forgiveness for both self and others (and one of my favorites is for Calm-Kids!). Calm can be a free app or for more content, you can pay a monthly or annual fee. I personally recommend everyone start with the free version and see where it takes you. I look forward to my daily meditative time every afternoon and have found this app to be an incredible tool for greater self-assessment and awareness.
#3 – YNAB Classic – YOU NEED A BUDGET
This app lives up to it’s name – YOU NEED A BUDGET is an absolute truth as far as I am concerned. You likely make some income, yes? With that income, you get to choose what is the best use of that resource to trade it for goods and services. Simple concept but too often I hear of friends and family members that make a significant more in income struggle to budget. YNAB helps you account for every dollar incoming to your household resource pool. Two incredible features of YNAB are the ‘reporting’ feature and the ‘budget’ manage portion. First, having a reporting option is incredible for looking at what you are really using your money for. If you spit out that report and then stare at it with a wild look of ‘what the hell did I spend all my money on at Costco’ you might be like me and a mama of many! Or have a really awesome moment of pride when you realize your savings accounts have grown exactly like you wanted them to because you finally committed to yourself to save! The budgeting tool is helpful in mapping out what you plan to use your money for so that you can meet those personal goals like savings and freedom at Costco within your designated budget choices. YNAB rocks.
#4 – My Fitness Pal
This is my go-to app for seeing trends in our families meal choices. I love that it gives me the macro and micro nutrients and I can make meal lists that we commonly eat so I don’t have to search them out each time. If you are watching your weight or facing health concerns like avoiding diabetes, this is a powerful tool to help track what you’ve eaten. I have been using this for several years now and it’s funny to see my weight chart yo-yo because my information has logged my last 3 pregnancies too! It’s a stellar app for many reasons. I recommend it because that data is so helpful! I don’t use all of the many features that My Fitness Pal offers you but I know if I needed them, they would be there. Check out this stellar menu list!
#5 – Fabulous : Motivate Me!
Another app on my favorites list that lives up to it’s name. I find this app to be such a great tool in creating new habits and keeping my personal goals on track. You can choose from pre-set goals like weight loss or create your very own one (real talk – I set one for doing dishes!). I’m someone who is extremely busy at all times and I appreciate reminders of my own goals along the way. I don’t lose commitment to them, I’m just so busy that I can add too much on my plate and forget things on my ‘must do’ list on occasion. I love this app for reminding me that I can and will be motivated long after willpower has burnt itself out.