Our phones were meant to make our lives easier, faster and more organized but that isn’t happening a lot now, is it? Not normally. Since the last few months I’ve been on a productivity drive where I improved my lifestyle significantly. How did I do that? For starters, I had help from the following apps. This is a collection of apps that give you quantitative results or help you see everything by the numbers. I realised that I function better when I can see clear numbers.
Google Calendar (Goals)
Let’s start with the simplest app. If you’re using an Android phone, chances are you already have Google Calendar on it. It’s a fairly simple app and that is why its so brilliant. You can schedule events, create reminders that sync everywhere. If you’re already on the Android ecosystem and using Google Assistant (or it’s predecessors) the thing works like a beautiful classical orchestra. Set a reminder through Assistant, it appears in Calendar. Create an event in Calendar, it shows on your Google Feed. Book tickets for a movie or journey and they’re all there on your calendar and your feed.
A cool feature that you might not be aware of is Goals. Google Calendar Goals help you create custom goals or choose some from the default ones and track your progress on them. It’s great for building habits.
You can use the Goals section by pressing the red coloured FAB (floating action button) with a Plus (+) on it. Once you’re in you’ll see that it is divided into five main categories:
- Build a skill
- Family & friends
- Me time
- Organise my life
Tap on any of them to get sub-categories or actions. For example, let’s take Exercise. We have Work out, Run, Walk, Do yoga or Custom under it. The interface is pretty simple. Goals lets you choose the repetition for an activity on a per week basis, the duration and the best part is that it learns your behaviour and so, slowly it’ll start showing notifications exactly when you are ready to read that next book or go out for a run.
Tracking finances is a pain especially if you’re a student and while there are simpler apps out there, I love Financius for how feature-rich it is for free. Financius let’s you create an infinite number of accounts say you can have a Wallet account, Bank a/c, Reserve and even Starbucks Card. I have it on mine. Seriously. You can also have categories and tags.
The main screen shows you how much you’ve spent, with a brief overview of your accounts and a Trends graph on it. It has a FAB to quickly create a transaction. Transactions can be Expenses, Incomes or Transfers. Yes, you can transfer money from your bank to your wallet and record it properly without any workarounds. It lets you add a note with every transaction and you can mark transactions as pending too. This works great if your friends owe you money. In that way, it is also a debt manager.
There’s nothing unique about Financius. The only thing is that it does everything and does it well. All in all, it’s been a couple of years and I’ve not had to leave Financius even though I have tried looking. I keep coming back to this app every single time.
Mood Cast is an app by Two App Studio, one of my favourite developers on Android, as I’ve already mentioned on the blog once. Mood Cast lets you track your mood and keep up a journal without the typing aspect of it. You can create a few categories or actions such as watching the movies or studying and then go about your business by selecting it and tapping a mood icon. There are five mood icons varying from Very Negative to Very Positive. The app also gives you a text field if you wanted to make a note. You can then later view a summary of your month and day and some cool stats like which is usually your happiest days and so on so forth.
The takeaway feature though is how it can read your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Journey (another app by Two App Studio) and figure out how you were feeling through algorithms. It then automatically records your mood. It’s a hit and miss honestly but it is uber cool.
Mood Cast isn’t for everyone as some people might be against recording their mood on their phone. It does seem ridiculous when you put it like that but it does work, despite my earlier criticisms.
This app is probably more relevant to Indian readers but I think it might work equally well for anyone not from here. HealthifyMe is a health tracker. It has the usual add a food, drink water reminders, add exercise with device sync with Fitbit and smart watches.
The best feature is their growing database of Indian food. They’ve quite smartly and (hopefully) accurately prepared a database of Indian food. Yes, a health tracking app finally knows not only what Gobhi Aloo ki Sabzi means but also what it has in terms of nutrients and calories.
HealthifyMe also has a community of people and it scores you on your daily actions. +5 points for a run, +10 for taking enough water and so on so forth. The statistics make it all the more fun to stay healthy. You may or may not get abs but you won’t start wheezing after climbing three flights of stairs.
Sleep Better + Doze
Sleep Better by Runtastic is a sleep tracker. You have to calibrate it by placing your phone on a flat surface. It then records how well you slept based on algorithms related to your movement. It’s one of the most beautiful looking apps on my phone and it works as flawlessly. You can choose out of six categories before letting it do the magic. These are:
- Worked Out
- Stressful Day
- Not My Bed
- Ate Late
Sleep Better thinks that these influence the way you sleep and since it’s Runtastic, I probably won’t question that. Besides this there are insights related to faces of the moon and a dream journal where you can write whether you had a bad, neutral or good dream once you wake up. I’ve used Sleep Better since I was in 12th grade. That makes my association with it roughly 3 years long.
It has something called Smart Alarm. You can set a wake-up window for the time frame within which you want to wake up. For example, say I set a wake up window for 15 minutes and set an alarm for 9AM. Sleep Better will ring the alarm any time in between 8:45AM and 9:00AM based on how well I’ve slept throughout the night.
Doze is a new app I found. It’s another very beautiful app that does little but does it brilliantly. Doze plays ambient music and white noise (rains, nature etc.) automatically and lets you set a sleep timer on it. After a couple of months of using a sleep playlist on Apple Music, I found Doze and I haven’t used the playlist ever since. Doze is amazing and trust me, the white noise helps in sleeping especially if you’re living with a roommate who snores at night.
What’s On My Phone?
I use a lot of apps, if that is not clear enough from the kind of content I post here. I flood my phone with apps. My browser’s no different. Same goes for my laptops. I augment everything I use on the screen to suit and function better and I’m always in search for newer and better software. I like finding obscure or lesser known applications and then sharing them all around.
I’m no expert though. I am like you, just a little more vigilant for new apps. I don’t go on a quest to find new ones from the newest XDA threads or GitHub, I just experiment and install every cool piece of code I see. This has been an idea-point in my head for a while now – a blog about apps. I wanted to do it on a different website altogether and keep The Polymath separated but that idea was struck down multiple times. Mainly because I have trouble keeping up with multiple blogs. I started an Instagram micro-blog called The Context-less Story back in 2015. I stopped writing there after a while. Same goes for Monologues in a Metro, a sister blog to The Polymath. I started Monologues this week, last year and I deleted it a couple of months later. So, starting a new blog wasn’t worth it.
To cut the long story short, here we are with yet another new category on the Polymath. What’s On My Phone will be an episodic blog post series where I’ll share a cool new app, collections of apps grouped by themes or maybe some personal take on the app-culture like I’ve done before.