January, you guys.
Even though there’s a winter weather advisory blaring across my Weather app, I’m doing a jig anyway. January is over. It was too long, too cold, too bleak this year—and that’s even though Charlie and I popped over to the local indoor park several times.
Speaking of apps, I thought I’d share a few of my top iPhone apps with you. After all, January and February (for me, anyway) are only good for trying to get organized and stay productive (and stay warm).
Type-A list-makers, rejoice! This app is the Promised Land, milk, honey, checkmarks and all. This app is my life. I once had a conversation with a fellow productivity-lover who introduced me to the concept of a “trusted system.” Everyone has a trusted system for capturing and organizing information and lists—some are more effective than others, though. If your trusted system is sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, as long as it works for you, it’s perfect. Wunderlist is my trusted system.
Here's how it works: you create (practically limitless) lists, which include tasks that can include subtasks (oh, the rapture!). I have a list for every day of the week, an ongoing booklist (yeah, don't laugh at my pathetic 2015 book list), a list for weekly dinner menus, grocery lists, and more. I've used this app to backgrounds plan my thesis and keep monthly checklists to prepare for baby while I was pregnant. Big plus: you can share lists with other app users, so hubby and I always have the same grocery list available to add to or buy from no matter where we are. It also has a web interface that's just as user-friendly, which I love. Sometimes I need to see things in a bigger screen.
One of the best parts? It's free. And it makes a satisfying "ding" sound when you complete a task, as though you need more of an endorphin rush for being productive.
My second-favorite app is basically a timer with a neat interface. Again, we're talking productivity here. When I was a kid, my mom would set a timer and say, "Alright, clean as much as you can for 10 minutes, and then we can eat lunch." That concept still works on me. Research shows that working in a timed environment works for beating procrastination and that we need frequent breaks to stay productive. I use this app to remind myself that my time is ticking by (which is easy to forget when you're home with a toddler), and also rewards me: I'll be done working in 15 minutes, even if I'm not finished with a task. It also beats my otherwise incurable "time optimism"—I always think I have more time than I actually do and that my tasks won't take as long as they actually will. Anyone relate?
This app is lovely and true to its name, it helps me balance my life. I only have the free version, but for reasons I'll explain, I prefer it. Like I've talked about here before, a technology's interface invites you to use it in a certain way. The interface of Balanced invites you to use it as a gentle reminder to take care of yourself.
Case in point: while I was frantically adding a subtask in Wunderlist, Balanced sent me a notification: "Have you rewarded yourself today?" This app reminds me that the things I often let fall to the side—going for a run, reading a book, pausing to be thankful—are radically important. The free version only allows you to add five tasks, but I prefer this: I think I'd be overwhelmed if I was able to add limitless other things I should be doing regularly.
This app is an adorable way to send digital greeting cards. I used it to thank people for baby gifts after Charlotte was born and to send little notes to friends who need a pick-me-up. It's a godsend for busy moms who don't want to be rude but good Lord, who has time to send cards .
And finally, an app I should use more. Colorfy has added some brightness to my January. Following in the footsteps of the grown-up coloring book craze, this app lets you digitally "color" gorgeous pages. It's a better way to pass the time in line than scrolling through social media (which pairs well with my resolution to scroll less this year).