Most of life is routine — dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you’ll be standing on the corner
after the parade is a mile down the street.
A lot of people seem to be totally dead-set against routine. I do get their
thinking, but I disagree completely. Because if you aren’t consciously
creating routines and rituals in your life, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have
It just means you have a bad ones.
I use quite a few apps on my phone to keep track of, and help with my daily
routines and habits. And whenever I share my progress on these apps on social
media, a question I always get is, “What is this app?”. This post is for those
that ask, and anyone else looking to make their day just a bit better.
The apps are not in any specific order, just writing them down as I think of
Ugh yet another productivity app, I know! But I’m not about to preach how
to be productive and be the “I-need-to-optimize-every-second-of-my-day douche”
here. Because that honestly doesn’t work for me.
I’ve tried using many tools like this one to keep my daily tasks on track, but
so far, this is the only one that’s really worked well enough for me to use
daily. And I can confidently say that it’s made me more consistent and
It’s basically a To-do list on steroids. You can divvy up your tasks by project,
set deadlines, reminders, priority, sub-tasks etc etc..the usual works! But what
really pulls it all together is the very minimal UI. And my favourite thing
about this app is probably the ability to create recurring tasks. This has
helped me be consistent with a lot of tasks, and create new habits.
The best way to understand it would be to try it out. It’s free and
available for almost every platform.
There are however some premium features for just $28.99 a year ($2.5/month),
which aren’t really necessary. But if you’d like to use them, leave a
comment and I’ll give you a code for free premium Todoist for 3 months(and a
free 6 months code for one lucky person!).
| Android |
Speaking of being consistent, Streaks is an app I got quite recently
that’s all about consistency.
What you’ll notice is that most, if not all of the apps on this list have some
mechanism of a “streak” — which is basically fake internet points, achievements,
stickers and other game elements designed to hook your brain’s reward mechanism
to an outcome in-app. But boy does it work! This is what makes apps like Candy
Crush so addictive, and why gamification is such a hot topic right now.
Streaks takes that concept and applies it beautifully to pretty much
anything you’d want to do consistently. Practice Spanish everyday? Quit smoking?
Eat healthy? Run a 5k every 2 days? Streaks can do. It’s very well designed
too-from the sounds it makes when you hit your streaks, to the visual cues.
Which is what makes or breaks an app like this (They’ve even won one of Apple’s
A cool thing about Streaks is that if your goals are health related, something
like “Meditate for 30 mins” or “Walk 2KM”, Streaks will automatically pull data
from Apple Health and mark those as completed as you achieve them. Neat!
Streaks is a bit on the pricey side in AppStore
prices at $4.99 (which makes it the most
expensive app I’ve bought from the iOS AppStore only second to GTA San Andreas
which cost $6.99 for me to play it once and never touch again)
But having had it for a couple of weeks and knowing what I know now, I’d easily
pay twice that for this app. It’s really good!
Show interest for
Streaks is not available for Android as of now, but you can sign up to show
interest. If you know a similar good Android app, leave a comment below and I’ll
add it to the list!
Running has many benefits, both physical & psychological (It makes your brain
If you’re not a runner already, there’s no reason to not get started. And if
you’re already a runner, you can always become faster & run further.
Nike+RunClub is good for both those things.
According to the App, I’ve been using this one since July 2013! It was a great
app back then, and it’s only gotten better.
What started off as just a way to keep track of your runs, is now a great way to
get into running if you’re beginner, and to get much better and more consistent
if you’re already into running.
With features like Coach which helps you build a personal schedule for your
running based on your requirements & skill level. And audio guided runs by
athletes and celebrities like Mo Farah and Kevin Hart, Nike+RunClub is
undoubtedly the best app for runners on any platform.
The icing on the cake? It’s completely free! No in-app purchases. No Nike
Fun fact: A human being at peak condition can outrun almost any animal on earth
Sure, maybe it doesn’t grow brain cells or anything, but I place lifting quite
high up when it comes to my list of priorities. It’s just good for
But what made lifting and “hitting the gym” really click for me was this app.
Lifting went from a 2 hour chore where I saw very little progress, to a simple
45 minute session where I could see progress every week!
StrongLifts is two workouts, 3 times a week and the app does all of the tracking
and time keeping for you.
But if you’re just looking to get “jacked”, this probably isn’t the workout for
you. The low rep with high set structure of StrongLifts is made to make you
stronger, and not to optimize muscle size. But it’s still a great starting point
if big muscles are your goal, and you’re a beginner.
StrongLifts is also free, with some paid features. Although from my close to
2 years of using it, I’ve never used any of the paid stuff.
Another essential for a healthy body and mind is a daily dose of meditation.
It’s also one of those things that a lot us want to do daily. But just don’t.
Insight Timer can help there.
First things — meditation has nothing to do with any religion at all.
Everyone should meditate. The benefits of meditation are far and
wide. Whether you’re looking for
peace, happiness, stress relief, an escape from anxiety or depression, or maybe
even nothing at
Meditation can help you find it, if done consistently.
If you’re a complete beginner, it’d help to start with an App like
SmilingMind which have a few great guided
introductory sessions to meditation. But if you’re already meditating or have a
general idea, Insight Timer is the way to go!
As the name suggests, Insight Timer does have a timer function which you can
customize with bells and whistles (literally) to your heart’s content. But it
also offers some great guided meditations from many teachers, suitable for just
about any situation you can think of!
It’s also got some social features, streaks and is completely free, which makes
it the perfect app for anyone to elevate their meditations from guided to
Much like meditation, learning a language has many benefits to the
shapes how you see the world. Not only that, knowing another language can give
you access to a world of new people, literature, music & movies that you didn’t
have access to before.
Duolingo not only takes the time & cost factor out of learning a new
language, but it also makes learning a new language quite a fun process, with a
lot of gamification. It’s one of the best examples of a well gamified app. All
you need to do is spend close to 5–10 minutes a day with the app.
I had problems being consistent with Duolingo in it’s early days, but they’ve
now made it even better with groups and a new UI for streaks which makes being
consistent with it quite addictive.
It sounds too easy, but it absolutely does work if you’re consistent. They’ve
even done the research.
Duolingo is free, but you can pay to remove ads. Which don’t really bother me.
They’ve also got a killer web app for when you don’t have access to your apps.
| Web App
If you did everything else on this list, but still had poor sleeping habits, all
of that effort would’ve been fruitless. Because lack of proper sleep absolutely
wrecks your brain and body. Sleep is important, very very important (Always
funny when people brag about how little sleep they got).
Sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday in line with your circadian
rhythm is a great way to consistently get good sleep. A lot of us know this, but
it isn’t always easy to build a consistent sleeping schedule.
I’ve tried everything from sleep tracking apps, to Apple’s Bedtime feature,
but always veered off schedule and turned those off before I could make it a
That was until I discovered SleepTown. It’s a lot like Apple’s Bedtime
feature in that it’s about making you sleep and wake up at the same time
everyday. But it gamifies your sleep!
For every day you sleep and wake up at the time you’ve set, the app builds a
building in your town. Each building you build brings revenue for your town,
and the more consistent you are in your habit, the higher the revenue you get
from the buildings you build.
I know it sounds quite juvenile. Because apparently fake in-app money is
more important to our brains than being healthy and happy. But like I said
before, gamification absolutely works.
SleepTown is $0.99 on iOS and free with ads on Android (You can remove ads
with an in-app purchase).
There you have it. 7 apps! A lot of this stuff is quite simple, but powerful.
And one more thing: You don’t need an app to do any of the things listed
here. But having them certainly helps and makes life easier. It’s one less thing
to keep in mind.
That’s what smartphones should be all about.
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“Is it hard?
Not if you have the right attitude. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”