Is There an App for Balancing Life?

by Cheryl Kohen, '06LS

Since we wear many hats in our daily routine, our time is often limited and over-scheduled. Just like anything in life, it is critical to have balance. It's also important to feel satisfaction in professional and personal pursuits; otherwise, both suffer. As an information professional and techie, I have discovered useful technology to organize my time. Below are a few apps that may create balance and decrease stress.

Usable on multiple devices, Evernote is an easy-to-use notetaking app that allows multiple screens to be synced with ease. I am able to access, share, and take notes anywhere. It works well for private as well as collaborative note-taking.
Get: Free with a more robust version for a fee;

Google Apps
While we all know about Google, I would be remiss if I didn't bring up Google's apps as wonderful organization, management, and collaborative tools. What would my life be without Gmail (for email), (to shorten long emails), Google+ Hangouts (for video chatting), Google Calendar (access your calendar anywhere you have a web connection), Drive (store your files and access them anywhere), and Reader (to keep up with reading my favorite websites)? I don't know, and I don't want to know.
Get: Free, all of it;

Gone are the days of having to worry about whether I grabbed the correct thumb drive. With a storage capability similar to Google Drive, Dropbox is an easy-to-use hard drive in the cloud.
Get: Free with more robust options for a fee;

Starbucks App
Am I too addicted to lattes? You bet! Using the Starbucks app on your smart phone is convenient and means not having to pull out your wallet. Plus, you get free stuff. Buying a coffee for classmates or co-workers is smart networking.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

Mint allows me to sync all of my financial accounts in one location and closely watch my spending habits. I have specific budgets where I can track various spending activities. For example, I can see how much I'm spending at coffee shops every month. Mint will also provide monthly advice and bill-payment reminders.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google Play

This is a great app for people who want to enjoy food, but remain conscientious about the calories they are consuming and burning. Users can also connect this app with other fitness applications, like Runtastic, to track workouts.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

Tango Card
Tired of carrying around all the gift cards you received during the holidays? I recently discovered this app, which allows users to upload their gift certificates and create scannable barcodes. Forgot to send a birthday card? No worries. Users can also create Tango gift cards and send digital gifts via email.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

Similar to Tango Card, KeyRing digitizes all of those reward and loyalty cards that clutter up your wallet. Never worry about missing the discounted price at CVS again. Just scan your cards into KeyRing, then store everything digitally. KeyRing also unlocks coupons and future discounts at your favorite retailers.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

I read constantly. When I'm not reading, I'm listening to podcasts. Since we have many technology, news, science, pop culture, comedy, and learn-how podcasts to choose from, Sticher enables streaming directly to my smart phone. This allows me to multitask, so while I'm doing other activities like running, cooking, folding laundry, etc., I am listening to smart conversations.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

Public Radio App
I am also a self-professed NPR junkie, and this is my go-to app while I get ready in the morning. Users can stream local and national public radio stations right on their smart phones.
Get: Free;

Voxer is a walkie-talkie app, which allows users to send voice text to other phones -- quick messages via hands-free texting. You
can take the voice off speaker so that not everyone around you is listening to your conversation.
Get: Free download on iTunes; Google play

When It's Time to Put the iPhone Down
Of course, it's also important to know when it's time to put the technology away. True balance comes from everything in moderation. In my house, the rule is, once a family member comes home, the media gets turned off. At that point, it's time to talk to each other and share stories about our busy days.

Cheryl Kohen is currently an emerging technology librarian at Daytona State College in Florida. Earlier, Kohen was the career resource librarian at Simmons College.

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