Tuesday, July 10, 2018

UPDATE: The 10 Apps That Keep Me Sane in 2018


Back in 2016 I wrote this post, outlining the ten mobile applications that were pretty much keeping me sane at the time. Several were writing and productivity related, but others were entertainment apps I used either as a coping mechanism or as a way to veg out and escape reality for a while. Several of the apps I chose to list in that post are no longer installed on my devices (or at least, not used as frequently), so I thought now would be a great time to update my list with my more recent loves.

But first, a breakdown of the old list:
  • Jorte: I've deleted this because I switched to Google, which was easier to sync not only with my various devices but also with my colleagues in the writing community when needed.
  • Microsoft OneNote: I still use this but only sporadically.
  • Microsoft Word: I don't use this as much in the mobile form - but Word is still my preferred program for writing.
  • Facebook: I obviously still use this, but not nearly as much.
  • Slacker Radio: This one is definitely still one of my life savers! It has its quirks, but I love it anyway.
  • YouTube: Another app that stands the test of time with me - I'm still watching YouTube almost on the daily, and in fact, it has become basically my only TV source.
  • HULU/WWE: I don't use either of these anymore. With less time available and less motivation to spend time watching TV in general, I no longer needed either application.
  • Clue: I still use this app regularly to track my feminine cycles, not only because it's a healthy habit to have but also because I have PMDD and tracking my cycle accurately helps me more adequately recognize and manage my symptoms.
  • Chrome: I still use this constantly for everything, of course. In fact, I'm using the Chrome browser right now and have multiple tabs up on all of my devices.
  • JetPack JoyRide: Meh. I still have this, and sometimes I play it ... but not usually.
Which brings us the new list of 10 apps I'm using most often lately:


Chrome:
This is the default browser on every device I use - and since I use the internet for planning, blogging, and researching, plus I use it for blog-reading, managing our library account, and general browsing ... well, I'm sure you see why this app is right at the top of my list.


Facebook Messenger:
I use this app daily as well, to keep up with my writing friends, my real-life friends, my family members, etc. Since I spend so much time shuttling from one appointment to another, my social life sometimes feels a little dry - Messenger helps me stay in touch with my people.


Google Calendar:
When I left Jorte behind, it wasn't because I didn't like Jorte. Actually, I loved how cute it was with stickers and stuff like that - it met my "digital planner" needs perfectly in that way. But since I wasn't ready to shell out hard-earned money to get full access to the features I wanted, I left the pretty-ness of Jorte behind in favor of the functionality of Google Calendar. It may not be quite as pretty or as customizable, but I can color-code, I can sync, and I can allow other people to view or even add to my calendars as needed.


Slacker Radio:
This is another app I use daily. My musical interests vary with my mood, my circumstances, who I'm hanging out with, how I'm feeling, and what's playing, so I love that with Slacker, there's a bit of everything I might be in the mood for. Music is a huge deal for me because it helps me block out background noise when I'm trying to write, helps me calm anxiety when I'm struggling, lifts me up when I'm depressed, and gives me an outlet when I'm dealing with anger or frustration. I'm not sure I'd be coping nearly as well if I didn't have music in my ear all the time.


Habits:
Setting up and using this app has been a great way to take my quarterly goals and turn them into daily targets I can shoot for without getting overwhelmed by everything I'm trying to accomplish. It has also been a great way to help me remember to take my medications (or remember if I've already taken them), track my intermittent fasting schedule, keep up with my reading goals, remind myself to spend time in the Bible, and keep up with other recurring daily goals. Without this app, I wouldn't be nearly as functional as I am.


Habitica:
Just like using Habits to track and encourage my own routines, Habitica has been an invaluable resource for tracking Eden's routines and behaviors, as well as inspiring her to try harder and make more of an effort in taking charge of her own issues. Habitica gamifies habit-tracking in a really fun way that makes it easy for her to relate to as a child of the tech generation, but it also uses old-school tracking methods gone digital as a way to keep her motivated.

With Habitica, accomplished tasks and behaviors (which are completely customizable) are awarded with experience points that help you level up, as well as gold, the game's main currency. Negative behaviors and daily tasks not accomplished result in a hit to your avatar's health level - which you don't want, because if you lose all your health, your avatar "dies," which means you lose a level AND all of your current gold stash. Gold can be used to purchase upgrades for your avatar, but is mainly used to purchase real-life rewards (also fully customizable).

What I really love about this app is that it gives Eden more control of her world - she's learning that while some behaviors (such as not obeying, wandering during meals, and not cleaning up after herself)  may not necessarily have immediate consequences, they still impact her life in real ways - costing her time in earning the rewards she wants. She helped choose the rewards we use on her Habitica account, and also has a say in what tasks and habits are listed on the app, which has also helped to keep her motivated to try.

Seriously. If you have kids and you aren't using this app ... you're missing out. (Oh, and adults can use it, too - I've actually been thinking of switching to this myself, just for fun. The only reason I haven't yet is because the app isn't equipped for multiple users yet.)


Google Keep:
Google Keep is one of my favorite apps even though I still haven't really gotten the hang of making it work for me as well as it could. I actually have a couple of different Google accounts signed in on my devices, and I love that this app allows me to keep track of so many different things. It's like having my own personal bulletin board on the go - I keep shopping lists, goal lists, writing and blog ideas, quotes I loved, and sometimes even phone numbers I need to keep track of but don't necessarily want to add to my contacts.

I would like to get it a little better organized, though.


(YouVersion) Bible:
This is my favorite Bible app and has been for years - I love that there are loads of free devotional plans I can get in on, depending on where my life is and what my walk with God is looking like at any given time. I also like that if I sign onto a devotional plan but it isn't working for me, I can totally drop it and choose another at any time. I can speed up the plans by reading extra, back it up if I've missed a day or two - or I can ignore the plans altogether and just use the app for good old-fashioned Bible reading.


OverDrive/Kindle:
These are the apps I use for my non-Bible reading - OverDrive is a great way for me to utilize my local library to access and read the books I want without having the actual clutter of actual books. I also like that I don't need to keep track of due dates and late fees either; when my books are due back, they just disappear from my device. I also use OverDrive to check out audiobooks for when I know I'm going to be doing a lot of driving, or for when I want to read but am simply too lazy to actually do it.

I check out digital library books for my kids all the time too, which is simple because I can check them out, send them to my Amazon account, deliver them to my my kids' Kindles, and then add the titles to their FreeTime settings. This is a great way of making sure they always have something new and interesting to read - without wasting money buying them books they may not actually end up enjoying. Obviously, we also have a good number of purchased books on our Kindles, and we're always excited to add more!


YouTube:
This is my go-to for TV these days - I don't spend a lot of time watching actual TV so we don't have any subscription services anymore. But I follow several channels on YouTube and even Eden has her own YouTube favorite. This is great because we can watch things on demand, we get to choose the content we're taking in, and by watching the creators we love, we're helping to support them too.


So that's it - these are the ten apps I'm currently using the most in order to keep my life organized and put together. If you've used and loved any of the same apps, let me know in the comments - and if you know of an app that might be helpful for my family, be sure to tell me that too!


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