This past year has been a turbulent one, with two of the businesses having ups and downs (though thankfully both are now in far better places than they were at the beginning of the year), family on both sides suffering illnesses, transition out of the office buildings which I’m now profitably subletting, moving home, and much more. A lot has happened and while much of it has been trying at times, the amount I’ve learned about myself and the areas I work or will be expanding into (including hiring solicitors and have them work for months preparing a case which will go ahead this year) has been enormous and feels like it’s set me up so well for success emotionally, financially, and almost every other way.
These changes have meant that I’ve pared down my digital life even more, focusing on what’s essential. It’s only been a few short months so far but I’ve come through them realising just how much of a time sink and emotional marshland social apps are — and to be clear, I was never a daily (or weekly) Facebook user in the first place. I still haven’t quite transitioned the amount of ‘dead time‘ into as much ‘alive time‘ as I’d like, but the ratio is improving.
The biggest change to how I work with my phone this year has been paying for more apps. I decided to invest in myself and the processes that govern my life by subscribing to Notion, Evernote, Brain.fm, Pzizz, MyFitnessPal, and more this year.
I’ve been thinking about the engineering principle of Mechanical Advantage a lot over the past few months. In truth, it’s simply a fancy, more mathematical way to talk about leverage, but one that allows easy visualisation of the forces at play. These apps, while often comparably expensive, allow me to amplify the outputs in my life with less momentary effort — just like a lever. A relatively easy example to share is Pzizz: assuming at least a 1% improvement in my sleep would transfer and thus equate to better productivity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and ability to be present in my relationships, it’s almost indefensible to not pay for it. In reality, the additional distance from the fulcrum is far greater than 1%, and Pzizz-enabled naps have already saved several days from complete ruin earning the £60/yearly cost hundreds of times over already.
MyFitness pal is in the same boat here, with the £7/mo fee, the premium version of the app allows me to set custom daily nutrition goals and reminds me to hit them, directly improving both my workout performance and helping me stay focused on January’s goal of reaching 10% body fat. £7 in comparison to what I pay for a gym, box, food, and workout clothing is quite literally a rounding error and makes adherence that much easier.
Starting from the top left:
- Tesla — to pre-heat, control, and update my car
- Oak — a meditation app by Kevin Rose
- Google Calendar — Frustratingly, still the best calendar app
- Strong — workout tracker, having used this for so long I’ve got some great graphs in the app
- Youtube — I have a Youtube premium subscription, and the offline listening feature is amazing, I never have to bother extracting the mp3 and uploading it to my phone again.
- Castro — my new favourite podcast app [to replace Overcast], it has a great ‘inbox’ feature that allows you to subscribe to podcasts you don’t necessarily want to listen to every episode of, and manage your listening queue better than anything else.
- Gyroscope — collects all the health, location, and productivity data I produce and spits amazing graphs, even if it’s not the most actionable information.
- YNAB — still use the web version daily, the iOS app far less so and this will likely be buried on the second page soon.
- Evernote — Back on this old horse, I’ve become a firm believer in Tiago Forte’s Second Brain workflow, so this now acts as long term storage in that setup and does so far better than Bear.
- Bear — My preferred note-taking app, minimalistic and faster to use than Evernote – I’ve been experimenting with Drafts which may replace this in the coming months.
- Notion — this has been the largest change to how I work this year and has become a repository for almost everything in my life, from client scheduling to recipes. I’ll likely write a post about this entirely at some point.
- Streaks — habit tracker, going largely unused since getting the Six Minute Diary finally after a year of Chris Williamson bringing it up at every opportunity.
And in the dock:
- Messages — WhatsApp is just the worst
- Things — replacing Omnifocus temporarily; so many people have recommended this to me and while it’s nice, I’m in such a groove with Omnifocus, that Things feels a little under-powered.
- MyFitnessPal — this has a temporary residence in my dock while I train for several fitness goals.
- Spark — email client, I was using Newton but it had several features I loathed. The latest updates to Spark have been pretty solid, to the point where I have (reluctantly) replaced the Gmail app with it so I can easier use all of my IMAP and Gmail accounts in one place.