By Joycelyn Moody - JMoody's Musings
My WellAcademic co-founder Roxanne has encouraged me for months to write a blog post on the apps I use to manage my daily life. She and I are thinking women in the academy, and corporate worlds make apps that are beneficial to us and other academics.
When I’ve advised some of the apps described below to my coaching clients, they’ve generally appreciated them as professionalizing tools. They’ve assured me not everybody online, using Facebook and other social media, already know these apps. Their enthusiasm, and Roxanne’s pushing, has led me to this post.
First off, let me note that I (do my damndest to) protect the passwords to all my apps by one I hold sacred: 1Password.
After dressing in the morning, I write in my Five-Minute Journal App--literally only five minutes. Its best parts are that it induces gratitude and generosity and solicits “Today’s picture.” When I was moving house last spring, each day I photographed the rising stack of packed book boxes, then once moved, the steady dwindling of boxes as my partner and I unpacked. (A process still underway.)
Some mornings, I choose to meditate rather than write. I have tried a variety of free guided meditations available on the Internet. Among the most interesting and helpful: Headspace and Calm. Meditation Studio is my favorite, well worth the subscription fee. There’s no MacBook version yet, only phone and notebook for android and Apple products. It has soothed me for over a year now. I appreciate 10-minute directive to “Honor Your Strengths.” Or one of its other mini-meditations in collections that break into topics like “Stress,” “Anxiety,” “Pain,” “Performance,” and “Relationships.” There are also specialized collections for “Moms,” “Kids,” “Teens,” “Veterans,” “Quarterlife,” and “First Responders.”
Meditation Studio's pauses run anywhere from 2 minutes to 60-plus. I’m just trying the “Zen” collection—who knew?! And every night I drift off to a meditation of the “Sleep” collection options to fall and stay asleep.
Obviously, and happily, meditation is a big part of my life even though I confess I mostly sit for only several minutes at a time. My iPhone Health app tracks how long I meditate each day, which I mention less to acknowledge my OCD than to affirm that meditation is least of all a race or something to race through.
Speaking of my OCD, I relentlessly check my computer usage with RescueTime (that’s replaced Toggl). I need RescueTime’s numerical assurance I’m kicking butt in the academic sphere. Just as nerdily, I consult ToDoist, then join my Writing Sisters in Google Hangouts.
My Mac devices provide me access to Time Out, a gem that reminds me to take a 15-second restorative eye break, then later a 10-minute stretch break. Remember: hitting the skip bar defeats the purpose! (Thanks, David Cook Martín, for this tip years ago.)
Also during my writing session (with all other apps turned off—ahem), I track distracting thoughts like what to add to my grocery shopping list in Google Keep. It’s a very versatile app, so I use it now and again to take a gratitude break (e.g., to pause when I want to go off on a colleague). My partner and I share our Google Keep account, too: easy peasy when she does the grocery shopping –yay! Notes in this free Google app can be transferred later to Google docs or kept in Keep for months. Conveniently, my students generally complete assignments in Google docs, or we swap documents in Dropbox.
For longer notes with links and photos, Evernote has an extraordinary range of tools. It even has a scanning feature that saved me on a recent trip when I needed to send a signed document. If you’re willing to try only one app from this list, choose Evernote. Like virtually all of these apps, trust me when I say this one is not difficult for Luddites and novices to learn.
I still feel like there are suspicious geeks building software to make the computer user miserable, and I’m still put off by too many tabs in any one app and yet, after Keep, Evernote is my go-to. For a monthly fee, you can run it on all your tech devices and share it with family members. And also, as with most apps cited here, you can grab a really decent free version.
Hmmm, what more? Quite a few actually; I’ll post others on WellAcademic in the coming months. I’ll close by naming helpful traveling apps, because we academics are traveling bunch, whether to give talks or attend workshops. Akin to the safety SurfEasy provides, What’s App keeps my phone charges down while I’m out of the county.
By the time I reach my destination, I’ve reviewed my Tripcase itinerary and upgraded my Lyft link. No Uber link, of course, due to its abhorrent treatment of people of color, immigrants, and women.
During flights, I dive into the saved articles in my Pocket, my absolutely favorite app, and how I learned about most of the resources in this blog post. (All the others were Tips from My Sweetness, an entrepreneur and rabid user of technology). Pocket stores endless current short pieces about productivity tools, health, news, politics, happiness studies and positive psychology, and of course meditation. Or I listen to a book downloaded into Audible.
Once on land, I immediately open mapquest since I have a terrible sense of direction and get lost in a closet (said the lesbian blogger: haha). In my hotel room, I make a concerted effort to do a little yoga before I order room service or step out for fresh air and a stroll to a nearby wine shop.
Well, that’s it: apps from a quick sweep of my iPhone and a peek into the nerdy life of JMoody. If these apps interest you, happy downloading!
Final note: I did not receive any compensation from the apps I share above.
Until next time,