6 apps that run my life

For me, an app can either frustrate or delight me. Because I spend so much of my time using software, it's important to me that it affects my mood in a positive way. The apps I choose can have a big impact on whether I have a great day or a terrible day.

So with that in mind, here's a selection of the apps I use which I think have a positive impact on my productivity and happiness.

A lot of these choices are, I'm afraid, Apple-only. I fell hard into the Apple ecosystem in 2019 and have accepted my fate as a permanent resident of the walled garden.

✅ Things 3

Until recently I was an avid Todoist user. Then I watched a video by Peter Akkies on Things 3, and realised that it had a killer feature: the "when" date.

This is the feature that initially got me to put my (not insignificant) money on the table, and I haven't looked back. Honestly, Things is an app that I'm excited to open first thing in the morning. I'm a big keyboard shortcut person, and I'm now familiar enough with the shortcuts available in Things that it just feels like a natural extension of my brain.

If you can afford the cost of Things 3, I'd really recommend giving it a try. The macOS app has a free trial which is definitely worth taking advantage of if you're unsure.

🚀 Streaks

After reading James Clear's Atomic Habits, I knew how important it would be to keep track of my most important habits like reading, exercising, and practicing piano. Streaks seemed like a good option when I was browsing, so I tried it.

It's not perfect, but in my opinion it's the best, most simple habit tracker available. I've tried plenty of others and they're all too heavyweight, or too annoying. Streaks somehow manages to achieve a good level of insistence without being irritating. It's well-designed, and has a great set of widgets for your iPhone home screen if you're into that sort of thing.

✉️ Airmail

I have an awful relationship with email - a story for another time. I think we're all still waiting for the perfect email app, but for now Airmail seems like the best option.

There's nothing particularly fancy about it, but I think that's sort of the point. It has enough customisation options available to satisfy the part of me that likes things just right, without being cumbersome. It's pretty enough for an email app too.

🖋 Everlog

Journalling is a habit that I'm still trying to build. Again, I've tried lots of apps to support me in this endeavour, but none have worked as well as Everlog. It's a relative newcomer to the scene, but its sheer simplicity drew me in.

Instead of having to navigate through mood trackers, different log types, and other nonsense, I can just open Everlog and start writing. I love the way it looks too - particularly the iconography. Worth a try if, like me, you have found other journalling apps to be over-complicated and cumbersome.

😰 Notion

Sigh.

I actually don't like using Notion that much. I find it to be pretty slow and difficult to navigate. But for certain things like keeping a database of my choir's repertoire, it's pretty handy. Frankly, the idea of running my whole life in Notion seems a bit like a nightmare.

⌛ Toggl

I'm currently experimenting with a Commitment Inventory. Part of this involves allocating a specific portion of your attention to each area of your life (work, home, relationships, hobbies etc).

I realised that in order to determine whether or not I'm meeting the attention allocations for each area in my life, I should start time-tracking. The app I've been using for this purpose is Toggl.

I've found it works pretty well, especially when paired with Timery on iOS. The macOS app is, frankly, pretty buggy, but it does the job and gives me really valuable insight into how much time I'm spending on each of my commitments. I'm using this data to inform my monthly reviews.

Peter Bryant

Peter Bryant

York, UK