One of my favorite topics. I like using technology to improve my life. Here are a few apps that are free that I believe have improved my quality of life from day one of usage. Have I also mentioned that they’re free? You’re not entitled to use them, but allow me to indulge in an explanation of why I like them.
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.Jim Rohn
- News Feed Eradicator for Facebook. It’s a Google Chrome extension that replaces your news feed with an inspiring quote, and it’s free. I spend way less time browsing mindlessly on my news feed and hurting my general mentality as a result of this. It’s not that I don’t care about other people. It’s just that my own peace of mind and emotional capital are far too fragile and limited to waste by tuning into the agendas of others. Because frankly, they don’t have much in plan for me. That’s not their responsibility, but it’s mine to protect my resources.
- DF Tube (Distraction Free for YouTube). Another Google Chrome extension that’s free. It wipes out the ‘Recommended’ page as well as the ‘Recommended’ sidebar, so I’m not inadvertently stuck in a rabbit hole of YouTube videos when I was originally doing something far more Important.
- DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. It’s a free Google Chrome extension and mobile browser that doesn’t track or sell your data. I used to not mind the tracking until I started seeing ads that were getting progressively more invasive and unusually specific when browsing on Google or Facebook. I’m sorry, but… usually these ads are no longer relevant to me, or I just don’t want to see them anymore. Please stop? Please? DDG feels trustworthy to me because they’re transparent, and they’re not trying to sell me something. So they’re cool.
- Toobee. A cute android app that I downloaded to periodically ding and send me a positive affirmation throughout my day. Kinda woo-woo, but it’s free and has no ads. As someone who has a tendency to be very critical and is interested in counteracting that, toobee has been really helpful to me in this front!
- Forest. I lied earlier. This is not a free android app, but it’s only a small one-time fee of like $3. I should say here that I don’t use this app as much as I should. But I like that it’s a beautiful pomodoro app that discourages phone usage when you should be working or spending time fully in the present moment. As someone who used to suffer from phone addiction, this is nice. To get the most use from this app, buy the premium version to remove the ads and have the ability to set up your own annotations on the pomodoro (Forest will flip through them as you’re working). I put a lot of time and effort into the annotations, writing my own positive affirmations and encouragements. And I believe that all this work upfront generate enough positive energy to produce better work whenever I use it! Flora is the apple counterpart to this app (although not officially the counterpart, but it’s the same concept).
- Moodflow. An Android app that you can track your mood on. You can customize the color palette, moods, backgrounds, and more. Clean, simple, does the job. Also, it’s completely free, unlike its more popular counterpart Daylio (which I’m currently trying, but it costs about $2 a month if you’re gonna subscribe to it). I find that this really illuminates my mood patterns in a more immediate and visually pleasing way. As someone who usually tends not to track her moods, doing any sort of mood tracking has been really illuminating! And Moodflow makes this as easy as posible.
- Google calendar. I like having a digital calendar to organize my life since it can send me reminders, however, I have to consciously make an effort to review and schedule my plans each day. Any calendar app would do, even your stock calendar app on your phone device. However, I want this calendar to sync across multiple devices, so I prefer Google calendar for that.
- Google Keep. Why pay a subscription for Todoist when you have Google Keep? In my opinion, you shouldn’t need to pay for a digital to-do list or quick note-taking/reminders app. Plus, this syncs across multiple devices. Google may track and sell your data, but at least it does some things right…
Other things I’ve tried before: Headspace (a meditation app that has the best basics series: said basics course is free to use and is arguably the best introduction to meditation out there), Sleep Cycle (uses your phone to track your sleeping stages and has sleep music/stories; however, it’s quite pricey and is subscription based. interestingly, it can give you amusing statistics by country regarding the average quality of sleep there. spoiler alert: the happiest countries are the ones that reported having the best sleep quality), YouTube Premium (obviously not free, but being ad-free just increases my sense of enjoyment and focus. In fact, I paid to make sure that this blog didn’t give ads, that’s how much I hate them), DuckDuckGo mobile browser (just do it, also big thanks to @sachistar for showing me them), Spotify (Premium is not free, but its extensive and ever-growing music and podcast library is something to appreciate. Plus, its music-finding algorithm is probably the best out of all the music streaming apps out there, sans Apple Music perhaps. I tried using Google Play and simply couldn’t be bothered with its interface and algorithm), and Notion (all the medical YouTubers love this app. It can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices. It’s kind of like making your own Wikipedia, but you can also write checklists, notes, budgets, lists, etc. Combines the function of multiple apps into one, and it has the feel of WordPress. Sort of like… if you were to build a private website containing all the ways you organized your thoughts/ideas/data, Notion would be that software. It is for free for those with a valid .edu e-mail address.)
There are also nifty apps like Supercook that can think of recipes you can use simply with what’s in your fridge! I haven’t used it myself, but I welcome any opportunity to declutter my fridge while making a meal.
What are your favorite apps? Do you recognize any of these and would like to disagree? I would love to hear your thoughts!
EDIT: I downloaded Daylio and am in love with its interface. I’m addicted to using it. Is that possible? Is this good? idk, but if I’m motivated to buy it already…. oh, no. But it sure is a delight to use!