The Apps You Need to Download, Based on Your New Year’s Goals
[This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.]
The other day on What Now, Nat? we talked about new year’s goals — how to set them, how to reach them, and if they are even worth it at all. With the new year in full swing, you’re probably already working hard at some of your goals. You might even have already reached one or two!
Whatever mindset you’re at about your goals for the year, there’s always room to improve and streamline your efforts. And what better way to streamline your workflow than to find apps and tech solutions that do the job for you? Today, I’ve got a list of the best apps you need to make your 2020 goals a reality.
So what are you waiting for? Scroll down to the goal you’re chasing and find your new fave app!
If you want to up your fitness…
Disclaimer: I am not a qualified dietician or personal trainer. I’m not even in shape really! The following are just the best apps I’ve found over the years that helped me with maintaining a healthy diet and getting my workouts in. Always consult a dietician or medical professional before making drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine.
My favourite fitness app of all time is a pretty new kid on the block. Shreddy was launched a few months ago by Grace Beverley, entrepreneur and real life superwoman. It’s a really cool all-in-one solution to reaching your fitness goals, including meal and workout plans. It also features a very active and supportive community where you can ask questions, share progress and exchange recipes with fellow users.
What makes it special is that the programs are geared at weight training for women. This is surprisingly hard to find among fitness apps! Also, all the meals are plant-based and delicious. So, if you’re thinking of reducing your meat and dairy consumption in the new year, you can do it by following the Shreddy meal plan.
While a Shreddy subscription is not free, it’s the next best thing: a really good deal. At a fraction of the price of a personal trainer, it delivers a plan that is truly custom to your needs and goals. Recently they’ve also launched full at-home plans that allow you to get gym results from the comforts of home. Using Shreddy over the past 3 months has changed my gym approach completely. I used to go in nervous and not knowing what to do. This way, I know exactly what moves are in store for the day. It means I’m motivated to work out more often!
If you want to really track the macros of the foods you eat every day, MyFitnessPal is a tried and true calorie tracker app. It’ll help you track your meals and find areas of improvement. You can also track your exercise, and this includes weight training too! A word of note though: I wouldn’t recommend doing this for an extended period of time. Also, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food or a history of disordered eating, this might be one to avoid. I’d recommend it more as a check-in every once in a while.
Noom is a great tool to use if you want to lose weight. It actually helped me lose about 10kg a few years back. It’s basically a food and workout tracker combined with a personal coach. It gives you a daily task list to check off in order to reach your goals more quickly. Also, it charts the general health levels of the food you’re eating so you can see if you’re on track. The premium version of the app offers a personal training programme that is tailored to your goals. That being said, I’ve used the free version on and off for years with very positive results. And remember: the goal should never be weight loss for weigh loss’ sake. You’re beautiful in the skin you’re in.
✨ Couch to 5k
This is a popular favourite among budding runners out there. Over 12 million people have reportedly completed the challenge, going from couch potato to 5k runner within weeks. I’m considering doing the challenge myself, which is saying something because I’ve always hated running. It’s the best thing for cardiovascular health though, and I’ve started caring about that sort of thing lately.
✨ Pedometer Step Counter (or any pedometer app)
If you, like me, want to get as close as possible to a healthy 10,000 steps every day, you need to get yourself a pedometer. Most health apps have one, so you should be covered within your Apple, Samsung or Google version. But if you don’t want to go with a full health app, Pedometer Step Counter is the best standalone app I’ve found. It doesn’t drain my battery, it’s easy to check on the go, and you can see a barchart of your steps over time. Perfect for those of us who love to see our stats!
If you want to be more mindful…
The mindfulness trend of the 2010s seems to be cooling down gradually, but that hardly means mindfulness isn’t a good practice going into this decade. Whether you want to start meditating, recording a daily list of gratitudes, or simply pausing to reflect on your day for 5 minutes, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you to better understand your mind and turn down the background noise.
I’ve dabbled in meditation in the past, and the practice really helped me. After just a week, my mind felt clearer, sharper, more focused. I was more in control of my thoughts and could spot patterns emerging more easily. I was generally calmer and less cranky. Also, it helped me take charge of any anxiety through breathing exercises and trigger spotting. This year, I want to revive this practice in my own life. I don’t know why I ever stopped in the first place!
The obvious contender on this list is Headspace. It’s probably the first point of interest for anyone wishing to try meditation. And it’s certainly a good starting point. The Basics package has 30 days of guided meditations to introduce you to the practice and daily habit of meditation. In just 10 minutes a day, you can effectively train your mind to filter out the background noise.
I’ve had the premium version for a year, and it really does offer a wide range of guided and self-guided meditations for every occasion. There are so many themes to choose from, so whether you opt for personal growth, increasing productivity or reducing anxiety, there’s something out there for you.
Calm is similar to Headspace, as it also offers guided meditations. The difference is that the focus of the app is, as the name suggests, fostering calm. This can be done through sleeping aids, soothing music and bedtime stories. You can even doze off to Matthew McConaughey’s voice. In fact, Michael Bublé does it all the time! So, if you’re looking for a solution to your sleepless nights, this might be the way to go.
If Headspace and Calm are out of your budget, don’t worry. I have a budget-friendly alternative for you.
✨ Insight Timer
I first discovered this app when I was looking for cost-effective alternatives to Headspace. Insight Timer offers a wide range of free guided meditations from teachers all around the world. A lot of the content is a little more spiritual than you’d find on Headspace or Calm, so bear that in mind when you’re browsing through it. It might be a little more time consuming to find a gem, but there’s definitely plenty of them out there. And when you find them, you can bookmark them for later use.
My favourite is a 10 minute morning meditation by Jonathan Lehmann. It features positive affirmations to start your day off feeling happier and healthier. There’s also a timer you can use for your self-guided meditations. You could train yourself for 30 days using the free version of Headspace and gradually transition to using this free timer.
If you want to be more productive and organised…
If your goal is to make the most of the time you have and banish procrastination, I’ve got a couple of tools that might make things easier for you.
Forest is a productivity app that helps you limit your phone use while you get stuff done. The basic premise? You choose the amount of time you want to focus, and in that time you plant a tree. If you use your phone before the timer runs out, the tree dies. It’s brutal, but effective. I’ve been using the app for years, especially during my college years. Every time I really had to focus on an essay or an exam, I’d plant a whole forest of trees to make sure the job was getting done. And you haven’t even heard the best part yet! Forest will plant up to 5 real trees when you reach your productivity goals. All the more reason to log off and focus!
If you have multiple projects going on, whether they be personal or work related, you’re probably going to need some sort of project management app to keep them all in check no matter where you are. I know I’ve been struggling lately trying to stay up to speed with blog content, Instagram posts, multiple work projects and any personal things I have going on.
To be honest, I do most of my planning on paper: that’s just the way I function. But when it comes to mapping out the details of a social campaign or tracking my progress on an article, I need something heavy duty. Instead of using the notes apps on my phone and laptop for my project notes, I’ve decided to set up an Asana account. I’m still getting to grips with how it all works, but I’ve no doubt it’ll help me organise my work streams this year. It comes highly recommended by freelancers and creatives, but it would also work great for busy students or multitasking parents on the go. And the best part? It’s free for personal use!
Not everyone needs an Instagram planning app, but those of us who care a little too much about the look of our feeds (hi, that’s me!) definitely do. I’ve tried a fair few of them over the days. While my most used one is Unum, it’s Planoly that stole my heart. With the premium version of the app, you can schedule and plan an unlimited amount of Instagram posts per month. In contrast, the free version offers 30 free uploads per month. This is enough for most people, however, it leaves very little room for error and spontaneity.
The app allows you to plan out your captions and stories in advance, making it super easy to schedule your feed and not worry about having to post at a specific time. They also give you analytics and stats to help you review your strategy. If this sounds a little too high maintenance for your personal Insta use, don’t worry! But if you’re curious, at least sign up to their mailing list to get helpful Instagram tips in your inbox. It’s one of the only mailing lists ever from which I haven’t unsubscribed! Just that good.
If you want to save money…
We all make money goals around this time of year. Whether you want to do more ‘no spend’ days or take charge of your savings this year, here are a few apps to help you reach your money goals.
I’ve mentioned Revolut on my website before when I talked about the way my boyfriend and I manage our finances while we travel. What I didn’t say is that I use Revolut pretty much on a daily basis to better understand my personal finances and save some money.
For those of you not in the loop yet: Revolut is a prepaid debit card that you top up when you want to, by how much you want to. The card can be used for all sorts of daily transactions, online shopping, splitting bills with your friends. It also shows you all the stats you could possibly need about the money you’re spending. Seeing it all laid out month by month really gives you a sense of where your paycheck goes each month. That way, it motivates you to analyse and make changes to your daily spending habits and budget for the future. Plus, you can limit your topups to a certain amount per week or month! So basically like a cash diet, but without the hassle of change in a world that favours cards.
It also has a ton of cool features. For instance, you can save spare change on your transactions in dedicated Vaults. Before you even notice it, you’ll have saved enough to go on your next city break. With a Metal membership, you can also get phone insurance and travel insurance for cheap directly through the app. Also, you can protect your details from theft by using a disposable card number that changes with every transaction.
Honestly, Revolut is the tool that completely transformed my personal finances in the last year, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
✨ Unidays and Student Beans
If you’re a student, I’m honestly a little jealous! Student discounts have come such a long way in recent years, and there are now more ways than ever to save money as a student. Unidays and Student Beans are my all time favourite discount sites for students, and they’re honoured by major brands like Asos and Apple. With the apps, you’ll also be notified of any special sale periods for students — usually around the beginning of the semester!
If you want to read more books…
Most avid readers I know set book related goals at the beginning of the year. And for the most part, that goal is expressed in a single number. For instance, I’ve pledged to read 40 books this year — a modest but achievable goal, and I’m 10% through it already! But there’s more to it than just your Goodreads reading goal. You might be wondering how best to incorporate a reading habit into your daily life, or how to afford all those books you’re planning to read! If so, these apps might be of use!
When I started reading for pleasure again after a post-grad hiatus, I realised that I couldn’t afford to spend a small fortune buying new books to read. Especially with how quickly I tend to go through them, and how little shelf space I have! So, when I found out my local library was part of the BorrowBox app, it was a game changer for me. BorrowBox is a library app with digital content — audiobooks and ebooks. If your local library is part of it, you can just log on with your usual account details. Dublin City Libraries allow me to borrow 5 audiobooks and 5 ebooks at any time, and I can hold onto them for 3 weeks with a possibility to renew! So basically, you get all that great digital content completely for free!
Not everyone’s library is going to have a membership, so check with your local one to see if they have something similar going on. The reading world has changed so much in recent years, it’s great to see libraries moving with the times and shaking things up. So handy for those of us who don’t mind the occasional ebook.
✨ Moon+ Reader
This has been my favourite reading app for years now. If you have a Kindle, this is redundant — but if you want to read ebooks on your phone or tablet, I’d highly recommend giving this app a try. It works with all the most common ebook formats, including pdfs — perfect if you have lots of academic reading on your plate. You can bookmark sections, highlight text and make notes. You can then export all your notes from a book into a note or document. Plus, it has all the usual e-reader features: font size adjustments, different theme and background choices, autoscrolling and more. The free version has a few ads, which can get annoying. Still, it’s really functional and reliable.
If you want to learn something new…
We’ve all seen and skipped through ads for Skillshare. Honestly, I’ve been there. But one day, I decided to give the free 2 week trial a go, and it instantly impressed me. Skillshare offers thousands of classes across so many categories. Whether you want to develop your DSLR photography skills, master Adobe Photoshop, perfect your calligraphy or write a novel this year, there’s a class you can take on Skillshare by an expert in the field.
In the last few months, I’ve learned how to build my own website, write nonfiction stories, edit videos in Premiere Pro and theme my Instagram feed using colour theory. And all that for free with a Skillshare trial, and so-cheap-it’s-basically-free in the months thereafter. In days when a Photoshop basics course will cost you upwards of €500, this is absolutely invaluable. If you value lifelong learning, definitely give it a go.
Want a free two week trial? Click here — you can cancel at any time, so what are you waiting for?
If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language or brush up on your high school French, look no further. Duolingo is the best free app I’ve found for language learning. I used it for 10 minutes a day for a few months to try to teach myself Italian. I was so shocked when I arrived in Italy and was actually able to order food in a restaurant and understand most written content! Duolingo alone might not get you all the way to where you want to be, but it will give you the foundations you need to get a grasp on a language. And there are so many to choose from: whether your goal is to learn Mandarin or Swahili, you can get started on it here.
If you want to be more sustainable…
In the last year or two, I’ve become increasingly conscious of my personal impact on the environment. We all have a carbon footprint, some of us bigger than others. Another thing we all have in common? We can all make a difference, no matter how small. Last autumn I talked about participating in Second Hand September — an initiative to help combat buying fast fashion and encourage buying clothes second hand. If you’d like to be more sustainable this year, here are a few tools to make it easier.
✨ Good on You
Good on You is an ethical fashion app helping users make informed purchasing choices. Before deciding to purchase something, you can check the brand out in their directory. They provide thorough reports on brands and give them ratings based on sustainability efforts and transparency about working conditions in production centres. You can also brush up on your knowledge of sustainable materials by reading their carefully researched articles. So useful for those of us who are trying to make the right choices when it comes to buying new clothes. But if you want to stop buying new altogether…
I’ve written a whole article on how I use Depop to find the best second-hand gems, so I won’t repeat myself here. All I’ll say is, if you enjoy online shopping and thrifting, you’ll love combining the two on Depop. With a bit of scrolling and sifting, I guarantee you’ll find some quality pieces for a fraction of the price. So many items are brand new or barely used anyway — so might as well make the ethical choice here.
If you want to travel more…
This one will come as no surprise to avid travellers out there. I’m always surprised when someone I know hasn’t heard of Skyscanner though, so I thought I might as well include it here. It’s basically an app (and website) that lets you check and compare flight prices. This can save you major cash when it comes to booking flights, especially when you’re looking for connecting flights. And don’t even get me started on how many tabs you avoid opening by using one source! You can search by flexible dates or even with no destination in mind — helping you find the cheapest flight out of here and away from daily life, right when you need it.
This one isn’t strictly travel related, but it’s saved me so many times while abroad. I’m vegetarian, and I’ve had my fair share of travel mishaps when it comes to finding veggie options in local restaurants. It can be surprisingly difficult! HappyCow makes it so much easier to find restaurants near you that offer vegan and vegetarian options, along with reviews. Definitely saves us veggies time and worry in the trip planning process!
If you want to journal or write more…
I’m sneaking this app in the tail end of the list, simply because when I shared it on Instagram stories, so many of you were disappointed because it’s only available on Android. But honestly? It deserves to be here. Writeaday is a daily journalling app that takes the hassle out of logging your thoughts and activities. It’s also hands-down the most visually pleasing app on my phone.
On Writeaday, every day of the week is a different colour. You log short entries throughout the day, and each entry is a different shade of the daily colour. The more you add, the smoother the gradient, so by spilling all the details you see a gorgeous rainbow gradient. There are also some adorable features, like mood logging, daily focus points, and a different quote every day to get you thinking. If you have an Android and need an easy way to keep a journal, do give it a shot!
Squid isn’t technically a journalling app, but it could be super handy for any of my fellow bullet journallers out there. I recently watched Amanda Rach Lee’s video on digital bullet journalling — a solution for anyone who loves the customisable nature of a journal but can’t haul one around everywhere. I haven’t used this method myself, but it looked like a great solution for drawing your own monthly and weekly journal spreads — especially if you have a tablet to draw on! While I’m not actually bullet journalling myself this year, I can definitely see myself using this kind of system for all my daily logging needs. Stay tuned for a full post next week on my current weekly planning routine!
That’s a long list of apps! Hopefully you’ve found one or two apps to keep you on track with your 2020 goals. And if you still haven’t set your goals for the year, don’t worry, there’s still time! I have a free worksheet and goal setting guide available right here on my website.
Do you already use some of these on a daily basis? Or maybe you have some other apps that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments or over on Instagram — I always have enough space on my phone for a few more.
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