Get back to Your Life! 5 Apps that Protect Your Time

by carawayrob

I have some sort of mental gauge that goes off every time an app wastes my energy with useless bullshit or confusing UI. Once this gauge fills up (which doesn’t take much), I delete the app and find something else. 

This sometimes means zero apps tolerably solve my problem. I still haven’t completely replaced a paper calendar. I keep a majority of my personal to-do in a notebook. 

If the problem is bad enough, I will use a solution but cry about it every time I’m exposed to its faults. 

Bottom line: I want apps that save me time and brain cycles while helping me accomplish meaningful things. I don’t want to think. This is mostly because I want to have time for other awesome things (but also a little because I’m very insecure about shipping bad software myself). 

Here’s our list:



1. Clear.

When the term “Gamification” gets thrown around, several bad ideas surface about how this should be applied to apps. Many try to reward you with trivial achievements or worse- unlocking features that should be available to you anyway. 

Some go as far to punish you for bad behavior. Yikes. 

Fuck meaningless rewards. Clear gets it right by rewarding me with encouraging sounds, sleek gestures and animations, inspiring quotes when I finish a list, and a few easter eggs, all while remaining dead simple. 

Now THAT’s gamification.



2. Fantastical 2

I admit my cheap ass waited far too long to throw down the $5 to buy this app. Probably because all the other calendar apps I tried were mostly bloated crap and I’d developed a kind of PTSD for calendar apps. 

But this app is great. Reading my calendar as an ascending list is remarkably intuitive. They chose the right features to implement to make it beyond useful without complicating the UI. I do wish adding events and reminders was even easier though (hint, hint).



3. Mailbox 

I could check and sort my inbox with Mailbox while juggling . I’ve tried to think of a better email solution for the iPhone but I’m not sure there is. I don’t really distinguish between deleted and archived but maybe others do.

Even watching the status bar message makes me happy. Empty inbox feels like a party. It doesn’t get any better than that.


4. Daily Routine

This app might be a wild-card pick in that it’s the interface is barely short of train-wreck status. It’s more about what the end result accomplishes: Daily Routine automates time blocking so I don’t have to think about what I’m suppose to be doing when. 

If you don’t time block, you should. Despite it’s UI feeling like a neverending maze, the finished result provides an unmatched experience for automating your routine. The notifications make it worth using over paper.


4.5 Valt (I originally labeled this plug as #6 but bitched out. I’m not THAT shameless though maybe I’d convert better if I was.)

I can sit here and bark all I want about how we all should create stronger, more secure passwords unique to every site, but let’s be real; we often don’t protect ourselves because it’s painful.  

The problem is even worse on a phone. Who wants to type a password like “fjdKLD3djSDAo39sJJ” every time they want to check their bank account?   

Valt securely remembers your important data and helps you autofill it on the web.  I wanted an app that I could access or create sensitive accounts in seconds — like in-between-traffic-light speed.  

There wasn’t anything available that had this light, fast, mobile-friendly interface I wanted so I built my own. I’ve actually trashed my bank and bill-paying apps because Valt moves faster.   


5. Mint

I wanted to be unique and hipster about my financial pick so that maybe I could introduce you to something new, but there’s still nothing that does easy finance tracking as well as Mint.  If finance apps require manual entry of my spending and budget, get that shit out of my face.

 Level comes so close to being better but simply didn’t allow enough control on how much of my income is considered “spendable”.  Mint focuses on the amount coming in vs the amount going out, and that really all we need.