6 *Actually* Life-Changing Apps I'm Loving This Year
Being a millennial in the Bay Area means that I’ve tried (and sometimes abandoned) many tech tools intended to make life easier: I’ve ordered from every delivery service imaginable, gone “digital” in most areas of my life, and outsourced every possible task to Alexa. I’ve also made many attempts to optimize my life from a non-electronics standpoint; I recently Konmari-ed my wardrobe, I’m a huge believer in “Friday Night Cleaning” to end my week, and I try to practice 30 minutes of screen-free time before sleeping. Many of these efforts have seriously improved my life by helping me cut out time-wasters, needless stress, and general annoyance.
I would hesitate to call myself an “app person” — forcing me to download an app is a quick way to lose my business — but I am always on the hunt for tools to help optimize my productivity. My work days are long: I leave the house a bit past 7:00am, and even when I head straight home from the office, most days I still don’t arrive until around 7:00pm. Since this means I only get an hour or so each evening to spend with Christopher before he leaves for work and I dive into homework (I’m taking a couple of online courses this semester), my time is exceptionally precious.
There are a handful of apps which have helped me boost my productivity over the past few months, and I’m sharing them in hopes that they might help you, too! If you’re like me and want to simplify your daily life while learning as much as you can in the process, then consider checking out these six apps and services.
And please — let me know about any life-changing apps that you love! I’d be stoked to give them a try.
How do I love Pocket? Let me count the ways. This free app and Chrome extension has helped me take my browser from 20+ tabs at any given time to under 10… which, for me, is a major accomplishment!
With one click, Pocket lets you save articles you want to read later. It archives them onto an app where you can read them anytime, anywhere — no WiFi or cell service required.
The amount of long-form articles I’ve finally been able to enjoy on planes, BART, and ferries, not to mention in long lines and waiting rooms, has been truly game-changing!
Pocket fuels my weekly “Sunday Reads” Instagram Stories series by allowing me to look back on all of the fun things I’ve read.
Plus, don’t tell anybody that I told you, but the app is an easy way around the paywall for most subscription publication websites. “You’ve reached your limit of 10 free monthly articles” now translates to “Save to Pocket and read it later, baby.” (Unethical life pro-tip? Perhaps.)
A few weeks before our honeymoon trip to France, I did the math and realized that I would run out of my monthly birth control prescription after the first week of our vacation. Considering that we are decidedly not trying to have kids anytime in the near future, that was a problem I needed to solve before we left the country. However, after several frustrating phone calls, waiting in an impossibly long line at Walgreens, and me promising my nurse practitioner that no, I wasn’t planning to sell a single pack of birth control pills in some shady back alley, I was informed that I wasn’t able to get more than one month of the pill at a time — even if I showed my already-paid-for tickets to prove my international travel plans.
… really? In 2019?
That’s when I decided to find a better way. Enter Nurx, an easy, accessible, online birth control delivery service. It also offers at-home screening tests, emergency contraception, and HIV prevention, which is freakin’ dope, just not what I’m currently in the market for. Nurx is a company that believes every woman has the right to safe, affordable birth control, and they practice what they preach by making the process incredibly simple.
After a quick chat with one of the staff medical professionals (all women!) about my birth control needs, medical history, and additional concerns, she prescribed the same oral contraceptive I’ve been using for years. Within a day, a three-month pack was in the mail and set to auto-renew. With my insurance, I ended up paying less than $15 total.
My Nurx app keeps me in the loop about when to expect new birth control shipments, and lets me know about any available alternatives that might be cheaper or better for my needs. The medical staff is a tap away on the app, which is incredibly comforting, and I’m generally stoked to support a women-first business founded here in the Bay.
(P.S. If you’re interested in Nurx, here’s an invite code for $20 off: CORALSHORE-16CML. It’s seriously life-changing! Sourcing birth control shouldn’t be such a pain in the ass.)
When I first discovered Ebates, I truly felt like I was getting away with some sort of crime. Honestly, I still do. I downloaded this app and Google Chrome extension in November 2018, and in the three months since, I’ve earned almost $150 for doing literally nothing but the online shopping I’d do anyway. Certain retailers offer a percentage cash back — for example, right now Sephora has an Ebates cash back bonus of 4% — if you shop through the Ebates app or utilize the web browser plugin. It’s seriously that easy.
Holiday shopping felt like I was getting away with robbery, but sure enough, I got a physical check for $60+ in the mail at the end of the year. Just this week, I chose to get my Ebates cash back balance in the form of a Sephora gift card. The app helps my online shopping feel productive, because even when I’m ordering cat food, I’m earning a portion back. I’M OBSESSED! (If you want to try, feel free to use this link for $10.)
One of my main goals these days is to read more… and I’ve been killing it! The only problem is that I consistently have a pile of about 10 books that I’m halfway finished with. In an effort to actually complete books, I downloaded Bookly: a “reading assistant” app that tracks progress, gives you stats about your reading habits, and turns the data into pretty graphs.
You can also unlock reading achievements and badges, which makes it feel like a video game for reading. (It’s the next best thing to those “Advanced Reader” pizza parties in elementary school.)
I’m a relatively light sleeper, and feel like my nights suffer because of it. Seeking a way to change my approach to sleep, I downloaded the Pillow app based on my husband’s recommendation.
Pillow not only tracks my time asleep based on sound and movement, but it also tracks my levels of sleep: light, deep, REM, or awake. The app charts out my night and sends me a sleep report in the morning, allowing me to reflect on why I might’ve had a good or bad night’s sleep and make changes accordingly.
Pillow also functions as a customizable alarm clock, gives suggestions for my ideal bedtime, offers a variety of ambient noise options to help me sleep better, and more.
It’s been a great addition to my life as a motivator to help me get a decent amount of sleep, because now I can’t lie to myself and say: “It’ll be fine, I will totally get enough sleep if I stay up until midnight tonight!” The proof is in the sleep stats.
I used to spend a decent amount of time and money on impulse shopping. I’d go out to run errands and somehow end up in the aisles of TJ Maxx, sniffing candles and trying on shoes… then walk about $150 later and completely forget which tasks I had left to accomplish. Le Tote has helped to curb my shopping impulses while keeping my wardrobe fresh and fun, and has even cut down on my laundry!
This subscription service lets me wear clothes I might never have tried in a traditional retail environment. How it works: I get a box in the mail with three clothing items, two accessories, and a prepaid return envelope. I wear the items as much as I want, then I rate them on the app, pop them back in the envelope, drop it off, and choose my next tote! If I ever get an item in my tote that I absolutely love, I can keep it and I’ll be charged way less than it would cost at retail.
What I love about Le Tote is that I am able to customize the pieces in each box if I want to. While they offer great suggestions based on my sizes and what I’ve liked in the past, I nearly always “tote swap” for pieces that catch my eye from brands like Free People, Levi’s, or Calvin Klein.
Knowing that I’ll have cute clothes arriving in the mail completely curbs my desire to go shopping, and I’ve saved a ton of money by using Le Tote. If you want to try Le Tote, use this link and get your first one free! Plus, another bonus: if you use Ebates, you can get $6.50 cash back. Can you see why I’m obsessed?