Whenever I think of apps I use on a regular basis, I also think of problems they allow me to solve. With that idea in mind, I wanted to share five apps that have added value to my life and the best part is that they are completely free. Most of these apps are for consuming entertainment, but what’s great about them is that not only do they make me happier, they also teach me new things and help me get organized. I’m also taking a new approach when using the apps below since some of them “talk to each other” in some way and I can export information from one app and import it into another one to have everything in a centralized hub.
Whenever I come across an article or blog post I want to save for later, I hit a button at the top of my browser and save it to Instapaper. Once the article has been saved, I can read it later on my computer, tablet, or phone and the best part is that Instapaper works offline, so even if I don’t have an internet connection, I can read the articles I’ve saved. The best part about Instapaper is that if I encounter an article that sounds interesting, I don’t have to stop doing what I’m doing at that very moment to read it. I simply save it for later and go back to it whenever I have the time. As you read articles, you can highlight text and add your own notes which helps me export them to Readwise.
I started using Notion recently after hearing about it on YouTube for months. People who use Notion love it because the app allows them to organize their lives in a sort of central hub where you can keep all kinds of information. It sounds hyperbolic, but Notion is game-changing when it comes to organizing your life: you can organize your entertainment, daily schedule, professional life, you can use it to study, you can add to-do lists, manage your business, there are calendars and pretty much everything is customizable. The possibilities are endless and now I understand why the people who use it regularly can’t stop recommending it. The best part about Notion is that the personal account of this app is available for free and you only have to pay for the service if you’re working with a team.
I recently started listening to podcasts on a more regular basis. PocketCasts was my podcast app of choice for years, but I recently started using Google Podcasts. The latter has improved steadily since it came out in mid-2018 and is simple to use and looks nice. To be quite honest, I cut back on the number of podcasts I listen to, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to trying new shows. I’m going to be sharing the list of podcasts I listen to at some point, but for those with suggestions, feel free to share ideas in the comment section down below.
Readwise allows you to import the highlights from other apps so that they can all live in the same virtual place and you can find them more easily. Some of the sources that are compatible with Readwise include Kindle, Instapaper, Pocket, Twitter, Goodreads, Airr Podcasts, Medium, and more. What’s great about Readwise is that you can take all the notes and highlights from other apps and then import them so that you can review those notes later and find them more easily. Another feature included in Readwise is the possibility to export to an app called Notion which I mentioned above.
I spend more time I’d like to admit on YouTube. A lot of that time is well spent though because I watch documentaries, guitar lessons, language learning courses, video games, and videos about productivity, minimalism, and organization. Since YouTube has brought so much value to my life, I don’t want to stop using it completely or simply reduce the amount of time I spent with it. Instead, I’d like to schedule video consumption to a specific time of the day (this is called time batching). That said, I’ve made some changes to how I use YouTube. I’ve removed the home page completely, I’ve also removed all sidebar suggestions, and videos play at 1.25x speed. I discuss those productivity hacks and more, in this article.
As you can see, I haven’t chosen these free apps arbitrarily. They all have a specific function and I’m grateful to have found a way in which some of these tools talk to each other and allow me to have everything I want in the same place. Although everyone’s life is different, I’m pretty sure some of the recommendations above can bring value to your life too. And hey, the best part is that you can always try an app and then stop using it if it doesn’t work for you. What apps do you use on a regular basis? Which apps have changed your life for the better? Don’t forget to leave your comments below.