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Bloom: A Different Kind of Productivity App for the iPhone

Bloom: A Different Kind of Productivity App for the iPhone
    Photo courtesy of Mindbloom

    Seattle-based Mindbloom has made waves with its digital inspiration and productivity web app, adding a gamification element to the niche that was both unique in approach and in accessibility. Now they’ve added a standalone app to its arsenal with Bloom, a free app that gives users a real kickstart in doing what really matters in everyday life. It offers a fun and simple way to transform photos and music into a private or shared digital inspiration. Bloom brings what’s really important in life to the forefront, enabling users to connect better with their lives as a whole as opposed to just their to-do lists. I’ve had a chance to play with the app while it was in testing, and the Mindbloom team definitely are onto something with Bloom.

    The digital inspirations that are the foundation of the app are called (fittingly) Blooms, and the app comes pre-loaded with several of them. You can set reminders that will notify you when it’s time to “Bloom” them – and those reminders can be randomized or set for particular dates and times. You can associate different images from your iPhone with each Bloom, and do the same with music from your iTunes library. Each Bloom comes with imagery attached already, so you can choose to go with those defaults or pick photos from your own library that fit the Bloom best. As for musical selections for Blooms, each one comes with a preview of a suggested iTunes song (and offers a download link so you can grab it straight away), or you can go with your own song if you want.

      The "Edit Bloom" Screen

      Blooms can also be shared socially via your Facebook and Twitter accounts, or can be sent to friends and family via email. Once shared, Blooms can be saved in the Bloom app, played, or be used as the starting point for a new, personalized Bloom. Here’s an example of how I’ve used varying privacy settings with Blooms:

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      1. I sent a private Bloom to my wife to be sure that we share a hug every day.
      2. I have prepared a share group-only Bloom with fellow NaNoWriMo writers on “staying the course”.
      3. I’ve got a public Bloom that ready to be “socially shared” (Facebook and Twitter followers) that suggest they give Bloom a look as soon as they can download it.

      Bloom notifications are one of the things I really took advantage of during my testing of the app. It reminded me to reflect, take a break, or trigger an action that kept me focused on what mattered to me most. I’ve never been really good at keeping up with water intake, but Bloom has allowed me to do this.

      I’d never enter something like “Drink water” into my task management app of choice, but since I don’t look at Bloom in that manner, I’m able to do it here. What I consider Bloom to be is a life enhancement app, a companion piece that I can use (along with Mindbloom) to keep augment mindfulness while I let my task manager handle all of the other stuff. It’s part of my combined system, and it works well for me because each component does what it does better than the others.

      But why should you grab Bloom? And more importantly, why should you use it – or Mindbloom, for that matter?

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      Unlike any productivity-type application I’ve seen, Mindbloom basically makes achieving what might be usually considered an ordinary thing quite an extraordinary digital experience.

      Parks Associates, an industry research firm, is studying a growing demand for health entertainment and lead analyst, Harry Wang believes Mindbloom can be just as entertaining as it is beneficial.

      “Many health and wellness applications often take a prescriptive approach when designing the user experience. But we’ve seen that people tend to become less engaged with these types of applications over time,” said Mr. Wang.  “Mindbloom takes a more personal approach, entertaining even, which makes the overall experience more inviting, relevant and rewarding.”

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      I had the opportunity to speak with Mindbloom founder Chris Hewett when Mindbloom first launched and just days before Bloom was scheduled to go public. What I discovered is that he is among those who are developing a new generation of productivity/task management apps that “gets it”.

      It brings to mind this quote, which, much like Steve Jobs, I’ve been a fan of:

      “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky

      Hewett and his team are doing just that with the Mindbloom web app – and now, with Bloom on the iPhone.

        The "Reminder Prompt" Screen

        “Everyday, more than 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, Instagram recently celebrated 150 million photos being shared and iTunes recently surpassed 16 billion song downloads,” said Hewett, a former executive producer for Monolith Productions who developed blockbuster hits such as No One Lives Forever, Tron 2.0, and F.E.A.R. ”Photos and music are a powerful way to express ourselves and to share experiences, but we believe there’s an untapped opportunity to use photos, music and inspiring words to remind ourselves and express to others what matters most to us and what we’re doing about it.”

        As mentioned, Bloom can act as a standalone app, or can work in conjunction with the Mindbloom web app through the recently launched free-to-play “life game”, which serves to inspire people to define what’s important, discover what motivates them, and take meaningful daily actions in all areas of their life. Users can connect Bloom with their Mindbloom life game, where it builds on these goals by focusing on the science behind behavioral change – integrating technology, art, and human psychology to make personal growth more effective on-the-go.

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        Bloom is now available as a free download in the iTunes App Store .  I recommend you give it a look – it’s not your ordinary productivity and lifestyle app.

        In fact, it’s quite extraordinary.

        More by this author

        Mike Vardy

        A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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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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