Recently in my talks I’ve been yakking about helpful and supportive apps. What follows are a few that have impacted my capacity for building clarity and paying attention.
Organize your Life with OmniFocus
https://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus "Your mind should be like water," says David Allen, the founder of "Getting Things Done." You only have so much psychic ram to hold information. You need systems that have everything written down so you don’t have to waste mental energy to retain your ideas, projects and to-do's. I’ve been a disciple of “Getting Things Done (GTD)” for years . I re-read the book about once a year and study different systems for organizing and tracking projects. OmniFocus may be beyond what you need, but if you manage multiple projects and are willing to learn the system, it’ll handle anything you throw at it. A cross-platform program and instantly available on my mac, iPhone and iPad, I have every single project, list, action item, and hair-brained idea written down and categorized. Once a week, I review my projects and ideas and select what I’m going to work on that week. Here’s one thing brilliant about the GTD system: Each week I not only decide what I’m going to do, but more importantly, what I’m NOT going to do and I put concern for it aside. I don’t worry I’m going to forget, because I’ll look at the full project list again the following week. OmniFocus is not free and has a learning curve but it’s amazingly, reliable, flexible and robust. As far as I can tell, it’s by far the most sophisticated organizer out there.
Organize Your Life. Evernote
https://evernote.com Evernote is my digital file cabinet. I scan everything paper, forward important electronic documents, tag ‘em and when I need them they are right there with a quick and simple search. This little article was written in Evernote. Because it’s cross-platform, I could work on it using different devices.
Time Your Meditations and Connect with a Network with Insight Timer
https://insighttimer.com If you want not only a great device for timing your meditations but also a way to track your progress and connect with other meditators around the world, Insight Timer is a great app. It’s clean, simple and I must say, pretty inspiring to see other people meditating around the planet in real time.
Change your Brain through Binaural Beat Technology. BrainWave
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brain-wave-32-advanced-binaural/id307219387?mt=8 About fifteen years ago I spent $150.00 of my hard-earned money on a sound/light machine with about 50 different dual binaural beat programs. I wanted to learn how to identify different brainwave states that are part of the meditation experience. Now you can get all that and more in an app that only costs a few bucks. Dual binaural beat technology has been around for a long time. You listen with headphones and the frequency between different tones in each ear tends to induce different brainwave states. You can dial in a range of frequencies that range from focus and concentration to meditation to falling asleep and perking up your dreams. I’ve used this app for years. It’s highly customizable and useful for screening out excess noise when I’m concentrating, timing and supporting my meditations and helping me get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night.
Best Journaling App. DayOne
http://dayoneapp.com DayOne is an elegant, simple and surprisingly sophisticated app that lives on my macbook pro, iPad and iPhone. I can capture a moment in a few words, dive into a long journal entry, record a photo and automatically capture information such as location, weather and even how active I’ve been through the integrated HealthApp. If I come up with a great idea I can tag it and come back and find it again easily. I set a prompt four times a day when a reminder pops up suggesting I write something. I’m now in habit of capturing what I’m doing right at that moment and then going on with my business. Occasionally these short prompts will inspire me to write something longer. I particularly like using DayOne in conjunction with meditation. After a sit I note the time and jot down anything of interest. Quite often the writing brings up something just under the surface I hadn’t quite noticed before.
Manage Your Sleep. Sleep Cycle.
http://www.sleepcycle.com "You can manage what you can measure," say efficiency gurus. As I’m prone to sleeping light, waking early and not getting back to sleep, I decided to try to track my sleep patterns to learn how I can get the most out of my downtime. Sleep Cycle uses your iPhone or Android’s microphone to pick up sounds of tossing and turning and can thereby track and rate the quality of your sleep. Sleep Cycle can also serve as an alarm clock and wake you when you come out of a sleep cycle and not before, ensuring you are optimally rested. (As waking up is never an issue for me, I’ve not tried the alarm function.) Before you open the app and set it up for the night you can make notes of your activities of the day. For me, I track whether I’ve had caffeine in the afternoon and whether I was away from a screen for an hour before sleeping. The app can tie into your activity monitor via the health app and factor that into a report. I’ve been tracking my sleep for about three months. The conclusions are rather obvious, actually, but to see the corroboration in numbers and graphs has been quite helpful. Even more impactful has been how I’ve actually changed some habits. Here’s what helps me sleep a full night: restrict caffeine in the afternoon, exercise daily, downshift at least an hour before bed and the most obvious practice of all since I always wake up before dawn: get to bed early.
Weather for the Hour … and More. Dark Sky
http://darkskyapp.com DarkSky is my ally in helping me step away from my desk and get outside. Living in the mid—Atlantic where it can get overcast and gloomy, it’s easy to look at the sky and write off the possibility of an invigorating outdoor adventure. DarkSky tells you what the weather will be like for the next hour, with amazing precision. You can also look ahead at temperature predictions and a forecast for the week at a glance. It’s quite accurate and a brilliant design. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve glanced at DarkSky, saw a clearing, and dashed out for a rejuvenating adventure.
Listen to Dharma Talks (and other things). Instacast
http://vemedio.com/products/instacast With so many great dharma talks and meditations online, podcasts are a great resource. Instacast does a fine job of downloading and organizing them for me.
A few of my favorite sources for dharma talks:
Jonathan Foust (but of course!) http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jonathan-foust/id455422434?uo=4 Tara Brach (it goes without saying!) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tara-brach/id265264862?mt=2 ZenCast https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/zencast/id73331418?mt=2 AudioDharma https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/audio-dharma/id75519213?mt=2 DharmaGeeks https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/buddhist-geeks/id211752923?mt=2