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10 Ways To Improve The World With Your Smartphone

10 Ways To Improve The World With Your Smartphone

Volunteering with and helping charities has been proven to provide people with a mental health boost. However, some of us are either too busy or lack the necessary inspiration to make a commitment to regular volunteering. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can make a difference in the world by doing something you probably already do countless times per day — using your smartphone.

1. Walk for Animal Shelters

Regardless of whether or not you are actually taking a dog for a walk, you can turn on the Walk for a Dog app to contribute to your favorite local animal shelter or rescue group. One of the best things about this particular app is that it has a long list of smaller animal organizations that may otherwise fail to receive a large influx of donations. You can also let your preferred local group know about this program so that they can get added to the list.

2. Run for Charity Miles

Charity Miles is an app that allows you to rack up donations for your chosen charity by walking, running, or cycling. Each mile is worth .10 to .25, depending on the type of activity you choose, and you can change charities each time if you want to help several organizations. This is a great incentive for people to exercise, but make sure that you take the necessary precautions. For example, wear bright, reflective colors if you will be walking at night, and consider investing in a high-quality massager for runners to release knots and tightness and correct muscle imbalances. After all, you won’t be able to keep exercising if you end up getting injured.

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3. Donate a Photo to Support Your Favorite Charity

Most people take photos with their smartphones on a daily basis. Although you may not want others to see some of these images, it is highly likely that you also have innocent pictures of animals, sunsets, the beach, and more sitting in your photo gallery. Donate a Photo, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, accepts one photo per phone per day, and they turn these photos into donations for a variety of campaigns. One of the most interesting aspects of this particular charity app is that you can choose from very specific campaigns such as helping people who have psoriasis.

4. Feed Children with Feedie

Do you enjoy eating out? Studies have shown that 58 percent of Americans go to a restaurant at least once a week. The good news is that you can turn your craving for your favorite diner into a meal for hungry children in South Africa with Feedie.

Simply open the app, check for a local restaurant that is participating in the program and be sure to take a photo of your food. To date, more than 12 million meals have been donated to the Lunchbox Fund. This level of charitable giving is easy enough for every smartphone owner to get involved in, especially because it essentially rewards you with feel-good hormones for doing something you were planning to do anyway.

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5. Donate 20 Seconds to Your Favorite Charity

If you’re like most people, your day is packed with activities, and this doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to focus on charities and philanthropy. This doesn’t mean that you don’t care about making the world a better place. Instead, it is often the natural byproduct of having the typical middle-class lifestyle, which is filled with work and other pressing commitments.

Fortunately, it now only takes 20 seconds per day to help your favorite charity. Tinbox donates $1 on behalf of each user who allows an advertisement to display on top of their smartphone for a mere 20 seconds. This innovative app is currently only operational in the San Francisco Bay area, but look for it to be nationwide in the near future.

6. Give2Charity by Visiting Your Favorite Locations

Some people purposefully keep their location data turned off, but if you are not among them, you can begin earning money for charity by simply going about your daily routine. The trips that you take and places you visit are tracked via your phone’s GPS, and this is converted into points for the Give2Charity app. It only take 1,500 points to donate $2 to your chosen charity, and this will be easy to accumulate many times over if you simply allow the app to do its thing in the background.

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7. Recycle Your Way to Local Discounts

Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce unnecessary waste and help conserve the environment for future generations. In other words, the very act of recycling is rewarding, but you can now take this to another level by earning discounts at local stores. Each time you recycle with the Recyclebank app, you will accrue points that can be turned in for a wide variety of discounts. For example, many local restaurants participate in this program, which means that you can make a difference twice if you combine this with the Feedie app.

8. Find Volunteer Opportunities on the Go

If you do want to volunteer but need to find opportunities that don’t require a long commitment or a training program, you can use the Reward Volunteers app to look for local organizations that need assistance. As an added bonus, every hour that you log helping a charity can be turned into prizes from sponsors such as Seventh Generation and DakinFarm. You can also partner this with the Volunteer Match website, which makes it extremely easy to look for the right volunteer opportunities to fit your lifestyle, interests, and available timeframe.

9. Help Food Banks by Dining Out

The previously mentioned Feedie assists children in need from South Africa, and you can also combine this with TangoTab to provide food to needy and homeless individuals in Texas, New York, California, and Oklahoma. All you have to do is go to a restaurant that is registered with both apps in order to make an even bigger difference with each meal. This will definitely make your weekly splurge feel better as you will have the personal satisfaction of a good meal and the knowledge that you have helped people eat in two countries.

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10. Help Others While Playing Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is currently one of the most popular apps and smartphone games in the world, and it requires people to explore their local area in order to level up, find new Pokemon, acquire special objects, and fight with other trainers. The game itself does not feature any charitable giving options, but you can easily run at least one charity app in the background to improve the world while having fun. This may require a battery pack to keep your phone charged, but this is a small price to pay for providing cash and food donations to others at the same time as catching Pokemon and getting some exercise.

If you want to help but need advice about which charities to walk, run, or take photos for, be sure to take some time to research your options to ensure you select a charity that aligns with your goals. Charity Navigator can also give you some much-needed transparency about all of the major charities you will see listed in apps such as Charity Miles.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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