7 of My Favourite Apps for Self-Care & Staying Productive

1. Headspace

With National Mental Health Day being not too long ago, I’ve realized how important it is to check in on your mind every now and then and see how things are going. Every person deals with hectic days and even on a slow day, the state of your mind can be neglected as we’re told to carry on with our day without taking the time to focus on our thoughts. And one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mind is learning to meditate.

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I’m definitely not by any means any meditation pro and I’m not the best at doing it consistently, but when I find that my mind is racing with a million and one thoughts and can’t seem to catch a break, I sit down for a moment, open this app, and allow my mind to slow down, and I’m always grateful that I took the time to do this after.

It’s kind of like anticipating a workout..there’s lots of dread and resistance prior to, but afterwards, you’re always glad that you did it.

2. Veryfi Receipts OCR & Expenses

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Veryfi is one of my favourite phone apps in general, yet is one of my least used (oops). It’s essentially an app that lets you take photos of all your receipts and stores any electronic/online receipts into a database that tracks and analyzes your daily finances including spending, expenses, and savings. What’s really handy about this is that it compiles all the data into month-by-month reports (such as the one found below), and you can even see what your spending is like each month by general categories such as paying for meals vs. building utilities, or by different stores and vendors.

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I say that this app is one of my least used mainly because like other people, I absolutely detest tracking my savings and spending, which often leads to me avoiding this ever important task. But, I have found that when you have easy access to your daily and monthly expenses and savings right on your phone, it helps deter excessive spending habits and keeps you on track on your monthly budget, which is an all-around plus for anyone. So sigh, I will try to make more of an effort in using this app again.

3. Calm

An app that provides noise seems counter-intuitive to staying relaxed and productive. However, many people find that specific white noise sounds help to increase focus. Calm, which won Apple’s Best App of the Year 2017, boasts a massive library of sounds that work to reduce stress and promote focus and mindfulness for any mood or circumstance you may be in.

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4. Apple Podcasts

While I use the Apple Podcasts app on my iPhone, any Podcasts app really is great for learning about a topic while on-the-go or completing mundane tasks and needing something to listen to.

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5. Blinkist

On par with general podcasts is Blinkist, a unique app that takes reading books efficiently to another level. I don’t know about you, but reading non-fiction books are not usually my first choice and sometimes take considerable will-power and effort to bring myself to open one up and start reading.

However, Blinkist helps solve this problem by providing a wide range of non-fiction options that summarizes each book into a 15 minute audio summary that you can listen to anywhere. If you’re looking to be briefly educated on a specific book and learn its main important points but don’t have the time to read through it all, take a look into Blinkist.

There is an option for a paid subscription ($10/month), but I believe there is also a free book they feature each day that you can listen to if you browse through the app.

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6. Forest

I know a thing or two about working at home and the sure disadvantages that come with it, including being on your phone a lot more than I would like. In fact, while writing this blog post, I’ve probably checked my phone at least 10 times (raise your hand if you can relate).

This is the only app I’ve included in this list where you have to pay right off the bat, but it has good reason. Not only has it been effective in helping me and many of my friends stay more productive, but the more productivity you rack up on the app, real trees are planted in the world.  How it works is you set a timer in which you don’t use your phone at all, and if you are able to complete your task without being distracted by your phone, you grow a tree on your app. If you fail, the tree dies. The point of the app is to build a virtual forest of trees and look back later to see how productive you’ve been over the weeks. And it doesn’t hurt that in the process, you’re helping to plant real trees into the world too.

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7. Focus Keeper

Similar in function to Forest, this app helps you to stay on task and away from unnecessary distractions like being glued to your phone. This one is a free alternative if you don’t feel like shelling out a couple extra bucks on the Forest phone app, and it works slightly different. Instead of a game-like visual in planting trees, Focus Keeper is simply a timer, helping you set designated time periods that you will complete productive work, and then time for breaks and such.

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