I’ve got you sorted for a list of handy mobile apps to help your small business thrive, but what about your most priceless business resource – you?
I recommend these wellbeing apps to my Tenfold coaching clients, to help keep their bodies and minds happy and healthy.
Catch more Zzzs
Getting good quality sleep is possibly the biggest factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This is when your body goes into repair mode and your mind processes all the noise of the day. These apps are designed to help you get more of the good stuff:
Offering two modes – ‘sleep’ and ‘power nap’ – this app’s main mission is to help you nod off ASAP. Pzizz uses a combo of calming voice and hypnotic sounds to help you relax and switch off. Randomisation mean that you won’t get used to (or bored of) a track, as you might with a single CD offering a similar sleep solution. Fully customisable, the app tracks your preferences so that over time it offers the sorts of soundscapes that have proven most effective for you. Pzizz has recently made the app even more useful by adding a ‘focus’ option – soundscapes to drown out peripheral noise and help you stay on task.
This app a bit more ‘sciencey’ than Pzizz. Using sleep-cycle theory, it aims to wake you at the right point in your sleep phase (if you are awakened from a deep sleep you will feel more tired). This nerd-friendly app uses the sound or movement tracking technology already present in your smartphone to collect and analyse data on your body movements, thus determining your sleep state. Despite all the graphs and sophisticated technology, this app is very easy to use – simply turn on before you go to bed and place on your nightstand.
Our smartphone is so often blamed for making us sedentary and overweight, it is reassuring to know that there are plenty of great apps out there to do just the opposite.
This calorie counter and diet app takes a holistic approach to your health and fitness, by monitoring both your food intake and calories burned through exercise. The food diary component is second-to-none. There are more than 5 million food items in the database, so it is easy to find and enter every meal and snack. Activity tracking-wise you can enter your exercise manually or even pair with your biometric device (Fitbit, Garmin etc). Messages of encouragement or gentle reproach also feature on the app, making it feel like a virtual personal trainer. For a free app it offers a lot of value.
Whether you have 5 or 55 minutes to exercise, Sworkit has a workout to suit. Just tap in the kind of program you prefer (leaner, fitter or stronger?), the intensity you can handle and the time you have available and pow!… a tailor-made guided workout video appears on your mobile device. With Sworkit it’s harder to make an excuse than it is to just get moving!
Couch to 5k
This app has quite a specific goal: it promises to help you get from your couch to being able to complete a 5km run in just nine weeks. Sound too good to be true? When you break it down into 30-minute workouts, three times a week it sounds very achievable. The app acts as a virtual coach, using GPS to generate a route and track your distance. Of course, the intensity increases over time, but building fitness in a goal-orientated way may appeal to your inner competitor. The road is waiting!
You are what you eat
It seems that the more we know about what we should eat, the less we seem to be able to make the right choices. These apps make it easier by combining up to date info with timely motivation to help us back away from the donuts.
This Australian app was created by BUPA in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health. Making healthy choices is as easy as scanning the barcode of any food item using your phone camera. Foodswitch then provides you with the nutrition information of that product and suggests healthier alternatives based on established criteria (ie gluten free or a lower salt, sugar or fat content). You can also choose to get key nutrition info via a traffic light or health star rating for an immediate assessment of whether to pop an item in your trolley or put it back on the shelf.
Whether you want to slim down, bulk up or simply improve your eating habits, Lifesum has the answer. This award winning, comprehensive nutrition app takes on the thought load of how to reach your dietary goals, offering a food diary, calorie tracker, recipes and meal planner all in one convenient place. Keto, LCHF, sugar free – just take the questionnaire and the app will advise what eating style is best for your requirements. The motivational feedback keeps you focused and you can also set habit goals like “increase veggie intake”.
Apps don’t come more essential than this. Considering that it is the healthiest, most life-giving substance on the planet, most of us could stand to drink more water. If you need reminding, plus a little motivation, this simple app is on the case (and it will get on yours if you don’t drink up!). Intuitive and with a nice visual tracker, there’s something satisfying about taking care of your body and mind in such a basic but crucial way.
Don’t worry, be ‘appy
They say money can’t buy you happiness… luckily these happiness apps are all free!
This cheerful little app uses the power of positive psychology to increase overall wellbeing and better emotional health. Once you establish your baseline happiness score, you can choose from 30+ ‘tracks’, or areas, where you can improve your happiness (negative thoughts, stress, self-confidence, career success etc). You then complete various quizzes, games and activities that help you shift your focus and ‘think yourself happy’.
What’s Up uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to help you process some of life’s more difficult emotions; anxiety, stress, anger and depression. The multiple tools include a catastrophe scale (offering perspective), breathing techniques, games, metaphors and methods for breaking common negative thought patterns.
This happiness and resilience building app is based around the idea that you can ‘game’ your way to a stronger, happier mind in just 10 minutes a day. Bad habits and negativity become the ‘bad guys’ you have to battle in the game. It’s a fun way to reframe your real-life problems by overcoming them in the virtual setting.
Live in the moment
Mindfulness is the ‘wonder cure’ of our time, with mental health experts assuring us that it is the answer to all our wellbeing prayers. The one problem? Sifting through the hundreds (thousands?) of apps promising to help you find Nirvana is enough to send your blood pressure through the roof! No worries – I’ve got you covered with these four beauties:
This is a fantastic (and free!) Australian mindfulness app developed and recommended by psychologists to make “mindfulness meditation accessible to all”. The benefits of mindfulness for helping people to deal with the stress and pressures of daily life in a healthy way are well documented. Many users describe it as a life-changing support tool that has helped them to relax, focus, improve sleep and manage anxiety. Originally designed for young people, it has also found devotees in the workplace; this is an app with wide appeal that is useful for the whole family.
While this app straddles both meditation and sleep assistance, it is the mindfulness tools that most users rave about. Whether you’re a novice stress head or a guru of inner peace, this app has a guided meditation option to suit. Sleep stories, the Daily Calm 10-minute-a-day program, breathing exercises and nature sounds are just some of the tools that help you ‘stop the world for a minute’ so you can reset and recharge. It’s not too ‘mystical’ either, so you are encouraged to focus on your body etc rather than hippy-dippy chit chat that many of us who are new to meditation can find distracting.
This gratitude app claims to rewire your brain in just 5 minutes a day, proving that simple solutions are often the most effective. By journaling your day’s five best moments (ie the things you are grateful for) you can train yourself to look at life in a more positive light. This, in turn, promises to help you de-stress, sleep better, enjoy increased confidence and focus and improve your relationships.
This one is still in development mode but is downloadable now and getting closer to perfection. We all complain from time to time about being woken by push notifications or worry that our phone addiction prevents us from being present with our families and friends. Thrive provides an answer in the form of an app that helps you to set healthy boundaries around your use of tech. You will be able to set up your phone so only emergency calls, notifications and texts from your “VIP list” can get through. You can also set goals and limits to the time you spend on your mobile device. A handy app for those of us who find it hard to just ‘switch off’.
Kick goals (or bad habits)
Setting and achieving goals (or changing habits) can be a daunting prospect unless you have an app to guide you through the process… and keep you accountable.
This habit tracking and goal setting app is flexible enough to keep you treading the right path towards any objective. Simply choose from Project (goals), Number (dollars saved, kilometres run etc) or Habit (assign a timeframe and/or the number of repetitions you will need to perform). Using the SMART goals framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely), Strides helps you break large projects down into daily actionable ‘jobs’. With all the thinking done for you, you almost can’t help but cross that finish line.
Mainly a habit tracker, Loop has a sleek minimalist design, making it easy to use. This app does just what you need it to – allows you to add your habit goals and set the work repetition, then reminds you to carry through. Tracking can be viewed by graph or monthly calendar and (despite being free) it won’t blow up your phone with ads, adding to its pleasing simplicity. Not fancy, but it gets the job done.
Like Strides, this app helps you set SMART goals, using templates to break them down into more short-term tasks. The main difference lies in the addition of motivational tools – you can use images to create a virtual vision board and even add music to get you inspired.
Treat your senses to some inspiring input to improve your mood, lower your stress and remind you of the good things in life.
Spotify continues to reign supreme as the best music streaming service. For those of us who crouched by our ghetto blasters, trying to push the record button in time to tape their favourite tunes in the top 100, it has revolutionised the way we use music. You can create playlists, discover new songs and artists and even download tunes to your device before you leave home to avoid using data on the run. No matter what your mood, you’ll find something in the 30 million-plus available tracks to create the perfect soundtrack to your life.
This has to be the world’s easiest photo book creator and, with books starting from $10, one of the most affordable too. How will this improve wellbeing? There are a lot of benefits associated with revisiting happy memories and the power of visual goal setting is proven (if you can see it, you can be it). For a lot of our coaching clients, it is the goal of trips away and happy times with their families that spurns them on in their business. Having tangible reminders of these goals is easy with this handy app. In just 5 minutes it collects photos from your phone and social media to generate a ready-to-order book. They also reassuringly back their product with a 100% money back guarantee.
When you started your small business, reading is likely to have been one of the first items to drop off your priority list. Audible makes it easy to bring books back into your life. You’ll have access to the largest selection of audio offerings while you exercise, drive or do the dishes. Getting lost in a good story is a great form of mindfulness; it reduces stress, increases your knowledge, sharpens writing and critical thinking skills and just generally nourishes your mind.
The everyday grind can be mind-numbing. Sweep out the cobwebs, feast on great ideas and challenge your brain for a happier, longer life.
Brain training has been credited with improving memory, mental agility and focus, problem solving and even emotional regulation. This fun app, developed with neuroscientists, promises to help you develop these cognitive skills using a game-based training program. Including features like 5-minute training sessions, personalised ‘workouts’ and the ability to track your long-term progress, Peak will have you feeling sharper in no time.
Similar in style and purpose to Peak, Lumosity is still a popular and respectable brain training app. The addition of a mindfulness feature, which focuses on areas such as attention and breathing, has lifted their game in the wellness stakes.
Our love affair with TedTalks continues to flourish and the mobile app just makes it easier to “feed your curiosity and expand your world”. In addition to everything the website offers, you can download talks and podcasts to play back offline, explore videos based on a theme, mood or even just the amount of time you have and TED will even suggest playlists based on your previous use.
Dollars and sense
Finances are a leading cause of stress for most people, but small business owners can be particularly affected by money worries. These apps won’t print free money (more’s the pity), but they do take on the administrivia of managing you moola.
YNAB (You Need A Budget) is like a personal trainer for your wallet. It is based around 4 rules: ‘give every dollar a job’, ‘embrace your true expenses’, ‘roll with the punches’ and ‘age your money’. You can easily connect all your bank accounts in one place, set and track savings goals, get personal support via live chat and generally make sure that your money is working for you (instead of against you).
If you have ever wanted a 360° view of your finances, then this app is for you. Centralise accounts, compare utility providers to get better deals, create a budget, set goals, track deductibles for tax time – all this with the reassurance of “bank level security”.
This app combines financial awareness with habit changing tools to help you create behaviours that support your financial goals. This would be a great app for those of us who tend to be a bit ‘spendy’ or for times when our money-stress is getting the best of us.
Tap into wellness
Living a healthy lifestyle takes constant vigilance. Fitness, diet, stress management, mindfulness, sleep, finances – it’s a lot to juggle on top of the pressures of owning and running a small business. This is where tech really is your best friend. You can offload a chunk of that self-care to-do list onto your mobile device, freeing up your time to enjoy the positive effects. Remember, looking after yourself is an important part of looking after your business.