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14 Smart Apps To Improve Your Work/Life Balance

14 Smart Apps To Improve Your Work/Life Balance

Some days we just have too many demands competing for our precious time – between work, family time, hobbies and personal goals, managing our time in a way that leaves us content rather than frazzled, could be a particular challenge for a lot of us. Luckily, we have technology to help us cope.

If you have the feeling you have been constantly busy, juggling too much things at a time and in the end of the day still feeling you haven’t accomplish everything you’ve planned, here are 14 smart apps to help you achieve the right balance between work and play time!

1.Timeneye (For smart time management)

Timeneye

    Timeneye is a free visually appealing, non-distracting time tracking app for personal use to monitor how you spend your time on basically anything – from work projects to hobbies. You can easily sync it with other software like Basecamp, Google Calendar, Asana, Trello and track your time without switching between them. In time the app will learn about your habits and automatically create suggested time entries for you! That means you spend less time on dull work and have more room for creativity and innovation.

    Timeneye is available as a web service, Android and iOS app for free for personal use and costs from $9/month for teams up to 5 people. You can check all available plans here.

    2. Tribesports (For regular workouts)

    Tribe Sports

      With Tribesports you will have more motivation to stick to your workout schedule. This cool app allows sporty users to connect with each other, find inspiration for training and complete various fitness challenges. With an inbuilt GPS tracker you can monitor and analyze all your activity, keep all vitals in one place, make photos and record your routine to share it with the rest of community. The app tracks your fitness goals and gives you a detailed visual overview of your progress each week/month/all time to keep you inspired to find more time and energy for sports!

      Available for free for iOS and Android devices.

      3. Focus Booster (For staying on task)

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      focus booster

        Focus Booster encourages you to stop wasting time on unneeded tasks and get straight to business. Based on the Pomodoro technique, the app allows you to set ‘focus’ time windows and breaks and switch on the timer to start work. During your work time you can’t stop the timer as your session won’t be recorded and added to your time sheet. This app is essential for freelancers to bill their clients correctly by setting up hourly rates for each client and then just auto-tracking the time you’ve spent on the project. And pretty much everyone else planning to use their time wise.

        Available as a desktop app for free with premium features starting from $2.99 per month.

        4. Slice (for smarter online shopping)

        Slice app

          Slice is a handy email add-on that will search your email inbox to find and collect all online order receipt information and store it in a neat list.  In fact you can create different handy lists, e.g. to track package delivery dates or a smart wish list that will automatically send you notification if a product’s price drop.  With Slice, you can spend less time on browsing through numerous shopping sites and have your inbox flooded with different alerts and notifications at once!

          Available for free as an iOS and Android app.

          5. SavedPlus (For saving money the smart way)

          SavedPlus

            SavedPlus encourages you to save money without even realizing it (or doing some crazy math). To start saving all you need to do is connect your credit cards and bank accounts and set a percentage that will be auto transferred to you savings account. For instance, if you spend $50 on eating out, and you’ve said you want to save 10 per cent of your total spending, then $5 will immediately go straight from you current account to your savings account. Try it and by the end of the month you’ll be surprised how easy saving money could be!

            Available for free as a desktop, iOS and Android app.

            6. Simply Yoga (For timely breaks)

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            Simply Yoga

              Simply Yoga app will help you squeeze in a 10, 20, 40 or 60-minute yoga workout wherever you are. The app walks you through more than 60 poses step-by-step and allows to built custom workouts. Remember, physical exercises help you stay productive and instantly reduce stress!

              Available for $3.99 for iOS devices.

              7. Splashtop Remote Desktop (For spending less time at the desk)

              Splashtop

                To get things done on the go no matter where on Earth you are, install Splashtop Remote Desktop. The app allows you to access all your PC or Mac files and programs from smartphone or tablet. It also streams video and audio from users’ PCs or Macs, and interact with PowerPoint, Keynote, Word, Excel and other application. Don’t feel glued to your desk and laptop longer than it is needed!

                Available for all operational systems and numerous types of devices starting from $4.99.

                8. Way of Life (For breaking bad habits)

                Way of Life

                  One of the reasons why you are struggling to achieve proper life balance, might be your habits – e.g. lack of proper sleep, pour diet etc. Way of life helps you get rid of the bad ones and develop good ones instead. You can plot daily/weekly goals and track whether or not you are meeting them. Your progress is visually displayed in form of bar charts with trend lines, scoreboards for instant feedback and multiple daily reminders.

                  Available for iOS devices for free.

                  9. Cozi Family Organizer (For more family time)

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                  Cozy

                    Make sure you always have time for the family with the help of Cozi Family Organizer. The app allows you to manage family members’ schedules, appointments and activities, so you never miss your kid’s football match once again. Sync it with Google calendar, share to-do/shopping lists and keep a family collection of recipes to shop by dish. The app is essential to organize your family life efficiently and always make sure you have time for everyone!

                    Available for free for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

                    10. Stress Tracker (For eliminating stress)

                    Stress Tracker

                      Capture and reduce stress levels thought the day with Stress Tracker. You can record your stress levels during the day. Add different info such as the source of stress, symptoms of stress, and overall mood. Afterwards use the app’s “insights” tools to identify your biggest triggers and learn to avoid them. After all, a balanced life is a less stressed life!

                      Available for iOS devices only.

                      11. Daily Routine (For managing your daily chores)

                      Daily Routine

                        The name says for itself in this case. Daily Routine app helps you keep track of all your daily tasks and sends notifications on what you should be doing and when. You can schedule routines for specific days of the week/month and add special reminders for those tasks you typically forget. Now, you won’t spend your precious time on running to the nearby corner store late at night when you forgot to buy cat food again. Besides, you can easily print out your daily chores created with the app and stick them to the fridge or cubicle-wall.

                        Available for $4.99 for iOS devices only.

                        12. SortMyBox (For online de-cluttering)

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                        Sort My Inbox

                          While de-cluttering your house seems like a daunting task, de-cluttering online files can get even more frustrating. Yet, SortMyBox can easily help you with that! The app helps you clean up and organize all your Dropbox files, so you could spend less time on digging for what you need! You can set special filters for different type of files (just like in your email) to avoid the mess later on.

                          Available as desktop app for free.

                          13. IFTTT (For eliminating routine)

                          ifttt

                            IFTTT stands for If This Then That and allows you to easily program repetitive actions and avoid spending time on them in the first place! For example, if the weather changes to rain, the app will send a text to warn me; if I post photo on Instagram it’s adapted and auto-shared on Twitter. This app saves you some valuable minutes each day that turn into hours by the end of the week.

                            Available as a web-based service for free.

                            14. Zirtual (For virtual assistance)

                            Zirtual

                              If you are still struggling with finding more time for play, get help from Zirtual. The service assigns you a dedicated virtual PA to take some of the administrative and organizational tasks off of your plate. Zirtual assistants can respond to emails, coordinate and schedule travel plans, manage your calendar, create itineraries and pretty much anything else you assign them to do.

                              Plans start from $399 per month and you can check all options available here.

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                              Elena Prokopets

                              Freelance Writer

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                              Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                              What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                              Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                              Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                              According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                              Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                              Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                              Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                              The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                              Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                              So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                              Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                              One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                              Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                              Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                              The Neurology of Ownership

                              Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                              In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                              But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                              This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                              Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                              The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                              So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                              On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                              It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                              On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                              But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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                              Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                              Reference

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