There is an app for just about everything and at some stage or another I've probably downloaded quite a few of them. Apps are supposed to make our lives easier; we can access things quicker and while we are on the go, so it makes sense to download the app version, right? But what happens when indiscriminate app downloading leads to daily 'memory full' messages and more frighteningly sucks us into time warps where hours pass in the blink of an eye. When this happens it's time to draw a line between the apps that are life improving and those that are nothing more than a drain on our time and memories.
I'm a big fan of decluttering my physical space and so it makes sense to apply the same logic to my mobile space. Decluttered phone, decluttered mind, right?! So I decided to purge my apps and keep only those that serve a practical function and those that bring me joy (Marie Kondo style).
I divided my apps into three categories. The first category of apps are those I need for my blog and work, e.g. social media apps (with notifications turned off) and my VSCO photo app. The second category is the purely practical category of apps; my twenty four banking app, Hailo, Parking Tag, etc. These are the types of apps that are strictly functional and don't suck you into time warps. The third category of apps are what I like to call my 'life improving apps'; the apps that aren't there to serve a practical function but those that bring me enjoyment and enrich my life and it's these apps that I'm going to talk about in a moment. Everything else was gets moved to thrash.
I call my third category of apps, life enriching apps. I don't mean that the apps themselves are going to change or enrich my life; rather the apps help me to do things that enrich my life; exercise, relax, meditate, learn a new language and be more mindful of my eating habits. These are the apps that will always win the fight for memory space on my phone. Some of these you might know about and some you might not and if there are you wish to add to the list, I'd love to hear them. Just leave them in the comments below.
First up is Spotify. I'm pretty sure it needs no introduction to most of you, but if you aren't familiar with Spotify, it's a music streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs. It allows you download songs to listen to offline and make playlists. I adore music but don’t really have a particular type I listen to. I go from classical to American folk to RnB to Pop and love it all. I always have Spotify on in the back ground when I’m cooking and having it on my phone just means its always easy to access. Listening to music helps me to relax, to mediate, to practice yoga, to exercise. It may sound totally hippy dippy, but the right song in the right place can be very grounding.
Next is Headspace. Headspace is an app that provides guided meditations and as you can download sessions to use offline, you can access it anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Having an app to help me to meditate daily helped turn meditation from something I had to consciously make an effort to do into an everyday habit. As the goal of meditation is to quieten our minds, it's a little counter intuitive to rely on our phones to do this; but I'm all about making things easy and achievable and if you can grab a free five minutes in your car or on your lunch break to meditate, having a guided meditation on your phone is really helpful.
3. Michel Thomas French (or whatever language you want to brush up on)
I'd love to be able to speak a foreign language fluently or at least hold a conversation. With the exception of actually moving to a foreign country, the Michel Thomas method of learning a language is by far the most effective method I have ever come across. It is AMAZING. Just download the lessons one at a time and after nine hours you will be more than able to hold your own in a conversation in whatever language you chose. Trust me. I did French a few years back in the weeks running up to a trip to Paris and I was totally able to get by without resorting to English, even once. I had studied French to leaving cert, so I had a base, but it's still amazing either for brushing up and giving you confidence or getting you started on a new language.
4. My Fitness Pal
Ok, this one technically doesn’t give me enjoyment; but it's amazing for keeping track of the food I'm eating. It's so easy to use, just input what you are eating throughout the day and it tells you the nutritional value of each food along with keeping track of your calorie intake. For anyone watching their calories or their macro nutrient intake, this is the app for you. Rather than religiously inputting every single thing I eat every day, I prefer to dip in and out of it and spend a couple of days every so often tracking what I'm eating. This way, it helps me be more mindful of what I eat and consider my choices with a little more care.
This app is new to me. I already walk every day with Teddy and Coco but I'm trying to extend my walks and thought an app that helps me to keep track of how much I'm walking might encourage me to do so. There are so many health benefits to exercise and walking really is my favourite exercise, thanks to Teddy and Coco. For years I heard people say that exercise improves mood, but it's really only in the last year or two that I have noticed this for myself. My favourite time of the day is when I'm walking the dogs and it's pretty much always guaranteed to improve my mood. This app is always on, so you just need to have your phone with you, it records your activity.