The apps I use for habit building and improving health (June 2020)

The apps I use for habit building and improving health (June 2020)

I've been reading a lot of books lately about topics that improve our daily lives as human beings. The books triggered me to start using (or coming back to) a bunch of apps. I know use the following apps on a daily basis to get healthier, be happier, and more focused and productive.

So here they are:

Way of Life, and the habits I'm developing

Way of Life (App Store link) is one of those habit building apps. I've used some in the past. They never stuck. After reading Kevin Rose his profile in Tim Ferris' book Tools of Titans, I gave this one a shot.

The concept of the app is very simple. You enter the daily habits you would like to develop and if you should or should not do them. Then on a daily basis you keep track if you've fulfilled the habit or if you forgot/neglected. (Not) Eating candy is still my nemesis habit.

Here's are habits I'm currently tracking:

  • More than 20 minutes in the sun
  • Work from/organize todo list
  • Brain training
  • Meditate
  • Eat fruit
  • Clear inbox
  • Sleep before midnight
  • Drink water
  • Do not drink soda
  • Read
  • Take a walk
  • To much coffee
  • Clean
Way of Life showing my list of habits

Headspace, and relearning to meditate

Headspace (App Store link) is one of the most popular guided meditation apps there's out there. I recently switched back from Calm to Headspace.

I used Calm for listening to sleep stories (yes, even for adults) to fall asleep easier. But I experienced the quality of sleep actually worsened because of this. So now I revert to reading actual paper books again, before starting Sleep Cycle (see below) to track sleep.

I now use this app to meditate at least once per day (see habits above). In the morning around 8.30, I follow one of the Basics courses. Then if I get the chance, I sometimes also put on a Sleep course meditation before falling asleep.

Meditation makes me more calm, more focused, and helps me overcome small and big adversaries in daily life. The world is not as bad as you might think. Meditation helps you see that.

Headspace on my iPhone

Sleep Cycle, for monitoring sleep quality

Sleep Cycle (App Store link) is one of those sleep monitoring apps. This app uses the microphone to record and analyze the quality of your sleep and visualizes the sleep phases you were in.

Since reading the book Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker I've gotten very serious about sleep. If you want to get healthier and happier: start with sleep. Food, exercise, productivity, meditation. Sleep is the foundation that connects them all. You cannot expect to become a better human being if you're neglecting (your) sleep.

While I don't fully understand how Sleep Cycle tracks my sleep quality correctly. (It tracked 100% sleep quality in nights where both my wife and me had to exit our beds every hour to comfort our kids from bad dreams and craving for food). The habit-building "placebo" effect of trying to start Sleep Cycle every evening at 22:40 sharp has helped me developed a much better circadian rhythm and consistent sleep pattern.

Sleep Cycle showing statistics and quality for a night of sleep

There are a few other apps I'm using that help me stay sane in daily life. Here is a top 3 of them. Links are straight to the App Store.

  • You Need a Budget (YNAB) - The best personal financial budgetting app and method that's out there. Also use it for my private holding company finances. If you want to get more calm about (personal) finances. This is your saviour.
  • Moodnotes - Recommended by Bob Jansen, my co-founder and CEO. Moodnotes can help you regularly check in and if needed change your state of mind from an (emotional) negative to a (rational) postive. It does this by making you aware of any "thinking traps" you might have fallen into.
  • Day One - One of the oldest(?) and most popular journalling apps out there. I've recently started using it to journal every morning and evening according to a Five Minute Journal template. This format is meant to help you focus on important matters at hand, and reflect every day if your day was well spent.

I hope you try out the above apps and that using them causes a significant positive effect in your life. Please reach out if you have any questions or comments.

Michiel

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