The Best Apps to Keep You on Track
Illustration by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Best Apps to Keep You on Track

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Remember that blissful place called “the office”? That sanctuary we commuted to for the job we got paid for and then left? Ha. Remote work brings with it new obligations and temptations: cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, home schooling, washing more dishes, pets, wine, Netflix, more wine, Instagram, beds. Which is to say that we need to be more focused and organized than we were in Before Times. Here are the best apps for staying on task:

Your project manager

Notion calls itself the “all-in-one workspace.” It lets you manage projects, build databases, take notes, set up mood boards, track goals and tasks, etc. (The app uses a proprietary “blocks” system, but it also integrates with Slack and Google and Microsoft programs.) It’s got a host of remote and team collaboration features and is also great for organizing recipes, reward club IDs, or travel plans for whenever we can go places again. The system requires a bit of a learning curve, so now’s a great time to experiment.

Pro tip: Use Notion’s templates, which offer more helpful ways to organize than you’d think of on your own. Some even cater to specific job titles.

Price: Free for personal use; $8-$10 per team member per month.

Your life coach and trainer

If your sleep, exercise, and eating habits are sliding south—and whose aren’t?—check out Noom, a habit-building app. Noom serves up a daily diet of research-based psychology and health education alongside cheerleading from your professional coach and fellow users. Its mix of goal setting and food, exercise, and weight tracking can help with course correcting (for example, my pound-a-week weight gain in lockdown with children).

Pro tip: Noom is for people who want to put in the work to change. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Price: Two weeks free, then approximately $1 a day, depending on the plan.

Your work bud

Focusmate is a portal to one-on-one, 50-minute video work sessions, booked on demand. This unique form of virtual co-working is shockingly effective (take it from me) and provides enough social stimulation to keep your brain happy. You can partner with randomly assigned users or stick to a group of co-workers and friends. After signing in to your session, you state your goals, work for 50 minutes, and then report your progress.

Pro tip: Works best for morning sessions (to get you out of bed), late-night sessions (to keep you out of bed), and projects that tempt procrastination.

Price: Three free sessions per week, or $5 per month unlimited.

Your work buds who dig CrossFit

The Work Gym is coworking for the athletic-minded; it stresses “peak performance” in getting you to condense your workday into a few efficient hours. You sign in at any even hour (8 a.m., 10 a.m., etc.), 24-7, and crank through a handful of moderated “cycles” (30 minutes of work, 10 minutes off), tracking your work in a spreadsheet. There are periodic pentathlons—16 days of peak effort—as well as shorter marathons.

Pro tip: If the 30-minute cycles and chatter don’t work for you, just mute and use it as a virtual coworking space for a few hours.

Price: Free memberships are currently available; typically, it’s $49 a month.

Your pandemic therapist

Youper. Billed as an “emotional health assistant,” Youper uses a clever AI-powered chat (there’s no human) to get you conversing, often prompting you to try therapist-approved techniques such as meditation and journaling. A mood tracker and mindfulness sessions help you understand how anxious you are and give you insight into other lockdown symptoms that you might not otherwise address.

Pro tip: Be chatty. In conversation you reveal your emotional state, and the more you talk, the more information the AI can glean from your language.

Price: Free, with paid premium features.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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