5 FREE Apps To Level-Up Your Life

Technology is wonderful and I am so glad to be living in the 21st century where we have the internet and smartphones and measles vaccinations (well, unless you’re Jenny McCarthy)…but at the same time, it’s easy to let technology drag you down the rabbit hole of Instagram/Pinterest/Snapchat/Vine/Angry Birds/insert-other-useless-app-here.  Most of us have phones that are filled with apps we don’t use with any regularity.  And if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself mindlessly wasting time on the apps that you do use (looking at you, Pinterest…) more often than you’d like to admit.

I can’t help you put your phone down and stop scrolling through Twitter – that requires exercising a little muscle called “your self control,” which is much easier said than done.  What I can do is give you 5 new apps to put on your phone.  Only instead of tempting you to waste your time, these apps help you live better, be healthier, and work more productively.  And just think…if you replace one of the aforementioned time-sucking apps with one of these, you’ll probably be able to double your productivity and be significantly happier at the end of the day.

Yes, it's pretty much just a completely unrelated filler photo.  And yes, I wore that in public last night.  #iwokeuplikethis

Yes, it’s pretty much just a completely unrelated filler photo. And yes, I wore that in public last night. #iwokeuplikethis

Plus, they’re all free.  Which is great news if you’re frugal or poor or both (right here).

I’m getting giddy at the very thought of it.

1. Tabata HIIT Timer App

I’ve mentioned this app before, and it bears mentioning again – of all the practical (i.e. not time-waster) apps on my phone, this is probably the one I use most.  If you’re a busy human, you probably want to make the most of your time spent training.  Personally, I find it is sometimes easier to push myself to work harder when I know I’m running against the clock and I can see the seconds counting down. Whether I’m doing a plyometrics circuit or a tabata workout or sprint training, this timer helps me make the most of my work intervals so that I can maximize my training in the time that I have (usually: limited). It’s customizable, easy to use, and the bottom line is: Get it. Use it.

2. Ambio – Sleep Sounds

Normally I love to have a fan on when I go to sleep, for the white noise and the breeze, but it’s way too cold for that (even in CA) lately. Add in the weird sleep schedule I sometimes have due to working part time at a coffeeshop – translation: going to bed when other folks are having dinner, and waking up 4 hours before sunrise – and it makes it hard to get some good shut-eye.  I’d say that I can sleep when I’m dead, but 1) I can’t stand feeling like a zombie, and 2) sleep is vitally important for health.  Ambio is an ambient-noise app that helps me to fall asleep easier no matter what time it is – afternoon naps shamelessly included. In addition to nine options for ambient noise (“Airplane Cabin” is my favorite), you can add your own music, mix and layer different sounds, create playlists, and even set an alarm within the app.  Enter, Ambio, stage left…cue blissful sleep…and curtain.

3. Nike+ Training

This one’s popular.  And it’s popular for a reason.  You can look up tons of free workouts – from 15 to 45+ minutes – sorted by fitness goal, workout type, body part, and other qualifiers.  The workouts include automated timers, audio cues, and video demos. While I wouldn’t recommend depending on Nike+ workouts for the bulk of your training, they’re a great resource for when you’re short on time, creativity, or equipment. (Here are some more great minimalist workouts if you’re interested!)

4. TED

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and TED talks are an exciting way to give your brain a little exercise and learn some cool new info.  If you’re unfamiliar with TED talks, they’re relatively short (5-40+ minutes) talks from experts in their respective fields, covering all manner of subject matter from science to social justice.  Listening to a TED talk while you do tasks that are typically mundane is a great way to multitask in a healthy way and engage your brain in something more challenging than singing along to Katy Perry or watching the Kardashians (guilty on both counts).  Some opportune moments for TED talks: while you’re getting ready for the day, while you food prep, while you walk the dog, while you stretch/foam roll, while you fold laundry, while you paint your toenails and are trapped in your house because you don’t want to put on shoes and smudge your new pedicure.  Here are a few good TED talks you might enjoy:

5.  Google Keep

This one’s simple – it’s a to-do list app.  So, obviously, I am infatuated.  Normally I prefer to keep a physical to-do list because the act of actually crossing off an item gives me the best kind of high, but this is handy for when I want to live in the 21st century and/or not have to carry my notebook around with me.  (The fact that there is a shopping list feature is also near and dear to my heart…)  Whether you use Keep or prefer another list-making app, I would recommend that anyone who wants to make the most of their time keep a prioritized to-do list of monthly, weekly, and daily goals.  After all, better organization allows for better time management which allows for better productivity, which means less stress, less procrastination, and less chaos.  Basically, being organized helps you maximize your productivity and quality of life.  Who doesn’t want that? 

Best to-do list I've found yet.

Best to-do list I’ve found yet.


What apps do you use most?

What are your favorite fitness/productivity apps?

Are you one of the rare few who does not have a smartphone? (In many ways, I envy yall!)

Bonus: The app I would not recommend?  Tinder.

How I feel about Tinder.  Also how I feel about the wifi at Peet's. It blows more than a sperm whale.  (That was a terrible way to phrase it.  But I'm committed. No going back. And now I'm cutting myself off. Ugh. #rainman)

How I feel about Tinder. Also how I feel about the wifi at Peet’s. It blows more than a sperm whale. (That was a terrible way to phrase it. But I’m committed. No going back. And now I’m cutting myself off. Ugh. #rainman)

(Long story short – it’s creepy.  Long story long (and embarrassing/amusing/traumatizing)…well, you can read it here.)


3 thoughts on “5 FREE Apps To Level-Up Your Life

  1. Peter van Uhm – enough said. That TED talk is incredible. So is TED. Here is my app ranking:

    1. Audible (LA traffic, and you never get that time back)

    2. TED

    3. Mint (physical, mental and financial health – by far the easiest and free-est money software ever)

    4. Spotify (even with T-Swift gone -_-)

    5. Unified Remote (for the techies out there – turn your smartphone into Tony Stark’s phone, and control your laptop and TV with your phone)

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