Want to be more present? There’s an app for that!
Now as we know I’m a massive advocate for reducing our screen-time, getting off social media and just having big breaks from technology in general (hell, I wrote an entire ebook on the topic!), so it seems rather ridiculous that I would suggest that an app can you more present.
The thing is though, we are susceptible to our devices. We want to be connected all the damn time. Sherry Turkle, In her life-changing (for me anyway) TED talk “Connected, but Alone” said;
And I believe it’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots,we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we’re not so comfortable. We are not so much in control.
If we are vulnerable to these devices then self-discipline is going to take up a lot of our energy and willpower. Instead, why not fight fire with fire?
I’ve put together a list of the best mindfulness apps (for your computer and phone) which have helped me be more present, productive and peaceful.
Since using them I have noticed that I’m more focused with biz and family, I actually have downtime now, I check social media less and I meditate much, much more.
(please note, I am not an affiliate for any of the below products. Just total #fangirl).
Mindful Productivity Apps
This is one my fave apps ever – a complete disrupter of the smartphone industry – it’s a phone app that is designed to make you put down your phone. Not only that, it also does a helluva lot of social good in the process.
You get to set a time, however long you want, to go without touching your phone (I’ve found that a 90 minute work cycle works well for me). When you press start you plant a tree and this tree will grow to maturity by the end of whatever time you’ve set to which you are awarded some virtual coins. Here’s the kicker though – if you touch your phone, you kill the tree. Yikes, that hits me right in my hippie heart.
You can plant as many trees as 24 hours will allow and you get to look at your forest (in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly sections) and ogle all your beautiful trees. if you want a pretty forest, you better not kill too many trees.
That’s not even the best part! With the virtual coins you amass simply by being mindful – you can buy real trees! As a partnership program with WeForest you can choose to donate your trees to India (to empower women entrepreneurs in land restoration) or Zambia (to promote conservation technologies for farmers). GENIUS.
White Noise + Guided Meditation Apps
Another fave, Calm is a guided meditation website and phone app and it is Dreamy (with a capital D). By clicking that URL you go through to a super peaceful natural setting – a looped visual and audio with ambient noise. Think a sunset lit beach where the ocean continually laps onto the shore. If beaches aint your thang, you can choose the setting that appeals to you, from stunning cumulus clouds blowing slowly across the sky or a just-below-the-ocean-surface scene.
You can then choose between 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minute guided meditations or just set the timer so you can just go own your merry way with your own meditation practice.
I use it mostly on my computer when I have been at the desk too long and I’m needing a refresh. My sneaky trick, through my work day I just have the scene up on my second monitor so I can constantly watch and listen to it. Frankly I don’t know how this is free?
When creativity and mindfulness intersect it makes me a happy lady indeed. Again, this is an ambient noise app (available on your computer and phone) and it allows you to create your own ambient tracks.
By layering natural sounds like wind, rain, a running river, a crackling fire or rustling leaves you can tailor your tracks to your own peaceful preferences. You can then save multiple for you specific intention. I have one for productivity, stress busting, relaxation and background noise.
You can set the to a timer as a mindfulness exercise or, if you are a fan of background noise (I am), you can have it playing while you work. I do both depending on my needs.
Mindfulness Audio Tools
There’s some interesting science behind it which you can read here but in a nutshell our brainwaves are what generates our desired consciousness whether that’s a state of relaxation, productivity or calm. We can choose sounds to put our brains into these states, names Alpha, Beta, Delta and Theta (that WOBWOBWOB sound!).
You can buy 30-minute tracks for $5 (USD) curated specifically to put you into your desired state. I’ve been loving the Gamma Flow track (for productivity and flow state) but I look forward to expanding my collection to include In Nirvana (for heart, calm and bliss) and
(Psst… you can preview each track here)
When I was going through a particularly stressful time a month or so ago, a dear friend bought me Spectrum from gifted music composer Tahlee Rouillon. Tahlee specialises in sounds that put you into a meditative state of being or meditones (a much nicer word for binaural beats).
She describes Meditones as “precisely tuned frequencies of sound, that when heard with headphones, guide your brain into effortless relaxation and deep meditation”. She goes on to explain that they help still your mind effortlessly, which is music to my monkey minds ears.
Really though, even without the mindfulness benefits, these are just beautiful tracks that will transport and transform you. I use these just to zone out if I’ve had a rough day, or as amazing for background music whether I’m writing, cooking or entertaining friends. I adore them.
Mindfulness Plugins for Browsers
StayFocusd is a Google Chrome productivity plugin that helps you stay focused (see what they did there) on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
I allow myself 10 minutes of trash trawling (reading crappy gossip sites pretty much) and then I have blocked them all. I have also blocked news sites (which I’m morbidly drawn to even though they create anxiety in me) and I also use them on certain social media sites.
I have also heard that SelfControl is great (for MAC users).
Now I’ll admit that I don’t use this one anymore but for a long time it was very useful. As a copywriter I need multiple tabs open to flick between client questionnaires, their websites and social media profiles. It saves paper from printing so I’m willing to take the hit.
BUT for those that don’t have those sort of requirements this Chrome plug-in is pretty fab. You can set the maximum amount of tabs to have open at one time reducing your multi-tasking and improving your productivity.
When we use technology correctly it can be a powerful tool in our life. I hope these help you as much as they do me in living through your screen less, and in your life more.
Have I missed any?
What would you put on your list of best mindfulness apps?