Technology has long been accused of being the biggest productivity killer. Most people lose countless hours in a day glued to their mobile devices in a constant state of looking down, unless of course they’re taking a selfie. However, the advances in technology and growth of mobile app development has given rise to some incredible apps that can actually help people create balance in their lives by promoting positive physical and mental health, tracking and managing money to avoid financial stress, and protecting the most valuable resource: time.
I’ve highlighted some free and paid apps that can help you achieve work-life balance and a better quality of life.
If you’re looking to regain control of your work-life balance, you have to know where your time is going. ATracker allows you to define your daily tasks, and with a simple tap will track how long you spend on each item. It gives clear data to determine if you’re spending too much or too little time on certain tasks. Using this insight can allow you to recalibrate your schedule to support your ideal work-life balance.
If you’re looking to get a clear picture of how you’re spending time on your phone, BreakFree will give you a deeper understanding of how much time you’re spending engaging with specific apps on your phone. It will even let you know if you’re spending too much time with any of them. It gives you an added tool of reclaiming your time by blocking access to incoming messages or other apps during a certain time frame you’ve defined. This is a fantastic solution if you’re looking to unplug and actually spend time with loved ones on the weekend or after work hours. Available on iOS and Android.
Ever stop to think about all of the mundane tasks you do on a daily basis, and how much of a time suck they can be? That’s where Zapiersteps in to help you save those precious minutes, that quickly become hours of work each week. Zapier connects your favorite apps, like Gmail, Slack, MailChimp, and over 750 other to help automate repetitive tasks in the background. Thereby giving you more time to focus on other projects or passions.
HelloAlfred is “your on demand butler” that will take care of any and all tasks you need done in a given day or week. Balancing work, family, hobbies, a social life, etc., while making sure you take care of your household responsibilities can be daunting, if not darn near impossible. HelloAlfred will make your bed, pick up your dry cleaning, do your laundry. They’ll take care of pretty much anything you need to get done; Saving you your most valuable resource, time. Available for a fee depending on the service on iOS, Android and Web.
InstaCart provides another valuable on demand service for the busy person: grocery shopping. Instacart allows you to order your groceries online and someone from the Instacart team will deliver them to your door. Whether it’s a last minute need or something you’ve planned for in advance, they’ll be there to relieve you of the stress and burden of having to stop at the grocery store, when you just want to get home from work. Available for a fee on iOS, Android and Web.
Pocket and Instapaper are paid apps for iOS and Android and have integrated bookmarkers for every web browser. These apps allow you to save anything you find online, whether it’s an article or video, and access it later for easy reading online or offline. They strip the content to text-only format making it easier to read on smartphones and tablets. However, Pocket is more colorful and probably better suited to multi-media whereas Instapaper feels more like pure text formatting. Now you won’t have to break up your productivity during the day when you come across an interesting article, instead you can save it and read while waiting in line for your morning cup of coffee.
Health and Wellness:
Headspace defines themselves as the “gym membership for your mind.” Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app that reportedly leads to increased happiness, compassion and better health and relationships. Another cool feature Headspace is that you can choose a pack from one of the categories, which include: foundation, health, relationships, performance, and pro. From there you can select how long you’d like each session to last. It’s available on iOS and Android as a free sample program or upgraded subscription plan.
Getting to the gym is a struggle for many, and most boutique gyms are incredibly expensive. Forte Fit brings live classes from boutique gyms around the world to you in the comfort of your home at a fraction of the cost. Available on iOS, Android, and web for a free one month trial, then paid subscription.
If you’re looking to give both your mind and body a workout at the same time, check out The Simply Yoga app. It allows users to take a 20, 40, or 60 minute yoga class anywhere at any time. Give your mind and body a much needed break. Available for free on iOS and Android.
Acorns allows users to automatically invest as little or as much money as they want. You don’t need to spend your time researching market trends, or even remember to transfer money into your acorns account. Simply set up recurring transfers from your bank account, or round up to the nearest dollar on each of your transactions, and have that money automatically transferred into your acorns account. This is not a traditional savings account. “Each dollar you invest automatically is automatically diversified across 7,000 stocks and bonds to help improve your return while reducing risk.” This saves you time and money to help take that much needed vacation. Available on iOS and Android starting at $1 per month.
PennyApp is a chat based personal finance app that shares noteable and fun facts about your finances with you. Unlike many other personal finance apps, Penny doesn’t require the same level of manual customization to make it work for you. When you open the app Penny will begin to chat with you about your finances. Penny has been analyzing your financial activity and gives you a report on how you’re doing this month, a forecast for where you’ll be next month, a heads up about upcoming bills, or even helps you cancel services you don’t use. She gets smarter every day. Penny is integrated with 10,000 banks, and with your permission will access your account transaction tracking history. Available for free on iOS and Android.
General Life Management
Managing a family is chaotic. Between scheduling activities, planning meals, and last minute unexpected changes, it can feel like a lot to keep track of. Cozi cuts out these concerns by putting all of your family’s personal information in one place. It includes a calendar, to-do list, shopping list, journal, and even a recipe manager. And everyone in your family can have access to it so there’s no having to whisper through frantic phone calls at work to coordinate schedules or set up doctor appointments.
It’s a lot easier to find time in your schedule for all the things when you’ve taken the time to pre-plan the non-negotiables. Week Plan for iOS and Weekly Planner for Android ensure you have time for the things that matter to you and provide reminders along the way. Both allow you to simply schedule tasks and check them off as you go. Think of them as a running to do list meets your calendar.
Google Calendar Goals feature was created for the person who doesn’t even have time to reschedule their daily or weekly goal. You just choose a goal that you want to accomplish (i.e. spend more time with family) and then Google Calendar will automatically schedule time for the goals based on when you have open slots in your calendar. You can also select how long you want to spend on that task, how often, your preferred time of day, etc. If you have a schedule conflict come up at the same time, Google Calendar will automatically move your goal to another time that day that works for you. It takes away the excuse of not being able to find time in your day to accomplish things. Available for free on iOS and Android.