About a week ago I started a major digital cleanse. I cleaned up shop on my playlists, my apps, social media profiles, everything. Even though I bought this new phone in November of last year, it was already cluttered with apps I never used.
The end result of this cleanse was just a collection of apps that I actually used. I deleted more than 25 apps from my phone (including all dating apps, a different post on that is coming). Here’s what is left and it’s all stuff I use just about every day.
I divided my apps into folders, the first one is social. This is usually where I start and end my day. My app choice here is rather obvious, but it’s much slimmer now that I deleted every dating app I had on my phone. Here’s what’s left:
- Twitter: My first social media account I ever made was on Twitter way back in the day (2009). I was definitely too young and violated the terms of service, but I had an account anyway. I’ve consistently had an account since and made my current account back in October of 2012. I’ve started taking it more ~seriously~ but it’s the perfect place to scroll through to get a sense of how I’ve developed over the years. I work in politics and most of my friends and colleagues are also on Twitter. This is where I spend a lot of my time during my commute.
- Instagram: When Instagram was first released I was admittedly a skeptic. I grew to LOVE it in college. Instagram is easily my second most-used app on my phone. I usually only post once or twice a week but I still spend a lot of time here. I quite literally can’t live without it. (I don’t use Instagram for editing photos, more on that below)
- Snapchat: I literally only Snapchat one person these days and she knows who she is. I really don’t use Snapchat too often anymore, but it sits there until I delete it.
- Facebook: I don’t use Facebook on my phone too often anymore, but this along with Messenger is how I keep in touch with family.
- Preview: I don’t really use this as much as I should, but I definitely did not too long ago. Preview allows you to literally plan your Instagram feed by seeing what your feed will look like with photos before you upload them. Creating a cohesive feed is a key part in growing your Instagram presence, and is something I look to do this year.
- Later: Quite honestly the best Instagram-related app I’ve ever used. Later allows you to schedule posts in advance, the free plan is pretty inclusive.
I LOVE productivity apps. I struggle immensely with a work-life balance and these certainly don’t help. My job requires me to keep work in my pocket at essentially all times in the event something comes up. It usually doesn’t, but I’m just about always connected. This is what I use to stay productive on the go:
- Slack: My office moved to Slack in December and I also use it for the occasional freelance project or when I’m working with another campaign. I really do believe Slack is changing the way people work and it’s hard to imagine a workspace without it now. When I’m at work I use it on my desktop primarily, but my work never shuts off 100% so it’s good to have on my phone in the event of an emergency.
- Evernote: I feel like I’m about 5 years late to Evernote but I am obsessed. I like it more than Apple’s native notes app. It’s cleaner, I feel like it has more features, and it’s changed my life. I use it for most of my general note taking. As a student, blogger, and an employee it’s important to me that my notes are organized and accessible and Evernote helps me do just that. This has been especially helpful since I’ve started a blog and can just write from anywhere when the inspiration hits.
- Google Drive: I don’t think I actually need to explain Google Drive to anyone, but I use it for pretty much everything work related or school related that isn’t something like personal notes. It’s the easiest way to share things with clients, collaborate, and it’s secure.
This is a growing hobby of mine and it’s probably the fastest growing folder on my phone. There was a time when I was pretty much always looking at new photography apps, but I’ve been consistently using the following.
- Lightroom CC: is hands down my favorite photo editing app when I need to touch something up quickly before putting it on Instagram or sharing it. I also use Lightroom on my computer when I’m editing photos for the blog or my online portfolio, but over time I’ve created a few presets that I can access quickly. Also, the cloud storage here is a nice bonus.
- VSCO: I slept on VSCO for a long time but came back to it earlier this year. I took the tie to really learn how to use it and I’m obsessed. VSCO has some powerful photo editing capabilities and I’m a big fan of their filters. I often use VSCO filters on all of the photos I post to Instagram (for some sense of cohesion in the feed). My favorite filters are A4 and A9.
- SnapSeed: The original photo editing app I used. I find I use it a lot less now that I’ve grown into Lightroom and VSCO more. I do find Snapseed’s tools a little more intuitive and better if I’m looking to do quick healing on a photo or lighter touchups.
- Facetune: I don’t use this often and a lot of the features are paid. It’s here for editing the occasional selfie. I don’t use the paid version but my understanding is that it’s a pretty powerful app if you’re willing to pay for it.
- Camera Connect: This is Canon’s app that syncs directly to my DSLR. It allows me to transfer photos directly to my phone, edit them, and post them instead of waiting until I get home to connect to my computer.
Personal finance is one of my biggest obsessions. It started when I was in college and, frankly, broke. I’ve tried every budgeting method and app in the world. I’ve read literally hundreds of personal finance blogs. Here are the apps I use:
- You Need a Budget (YNAB): I cannot recommend this app enough. This is my preferred budgeting software. It has a bit of a learning curve and it isn’t free. I pay $50 each year for this and it’s worth every penny. YNAB operates on 4 rules (give every dollar a job, embrace your true expenses, roll with the punches, age your money). I’ll write a full review of this one day but if you’re interested in signing up you can click here. They also have a wonderful Facebook and Reddit community, host informative webinars (free), and is probably my favorite online company. I can’t rave about this more.
- Personal Capital: This is where things get real for me. I use YNAB to track most of my spending but Personal Capital is the automated app that gives me a better idea of my net worth. My net worth is nothing to be proud of (thanks to student loans), however, it’s something I can’t run away from. Personal Capital automatically updates balances, syncs with my 401k, bank accounts, savings accounts, etc to give me a better idea of my financial health.
- CreditKarma: I’m appalled by the number of people my age who do not know their credit score. CreditKarma will give you a free credit report, alert you when something is up, and offer occasional advice on getting your shit together. I check my credit score weekly. It doesn’t change much but I’m more concerned that an error will pop up. I’m still a student and still using student loans, therefore it’s extremely important to me that my credit report is accurate.
- Venmo: Things aren’t free and it’s the easiest way to pay my friends when one of us foots the bill.
- All of my banking apps (savings account, 401k, checking, credit cards). I keep them here primarily so I can get alerts. I make a habit of checking them online often as well (and YNAB and Personal Capital syncs them automatically too). I’m never surprised by the amount.
- Nike Run Club: I’ve made fitness one of my bigger goals for 2019. This month my goal is to workout at least 3 times each week and running is one of my favorite ways to do so. Nike Run Club makes it easy to track my runs, pace myself, etc. They also have a lot of “coaches” that are recorded to help guide you through it, though I usually just listen to music when I’m running. When I’m not running I usually just stick to the Apple Watch’s built-in workouts.
- CaBi: Short for Capital Bikeshare, Washington D.C’s bike-share system. I use it often, it’s a good app to have as it makes it easy to check where bikes are available. I pay $8 each month for this service and it’s worth it (unlimited bike rides, up to 30 minutes each). I admittedly haven’t used it as much because it has been extremely cold.
- LastPass: I care a lot about digital security. My accounts have been compromised before and there have been some serious consequences as a result. That said, I try to have pretty secure passwords on just about everything and LastPass is where I store them all. LastPass has you set a “master” password to unlock your vault and when registering for a new site you have the option of generating a random password. Just don’t lose your master password!
- Authy: I use two-factor authentication whenever possible now after my accounts were compromised. There’s plenty of articles out there about why you shouldn’t use text for two-factor, so I use an app. Authy was the first one I downloaded and I’ve stuck with it since.
- Geico: Car insurance is the thing that everyone loves to hate, but the convenience of having your insurance cards on you at all times can’t be understated. I haven’t had to use them yet (knock on wood), but the one time I was pulled over I realized that my car insurance proof had expired and I forgot to swap it out with the new ones that came in the mail.
- Uber and Lyft: I primarily use Lyft but I usually check prices on both before catching a ride. I don’t use either that often (usually when I’m trying to get home and it’s too late to use Washington’s metro.
- Google Maps: I use this over Apple’s built-in Maps and for good reason. It’s easier to use, more reliable, and I’m directionally challenged. I CANNOT take risks when figuring out new places.
- Waze: I don’t drive that often in Washington, D.C., but when I do I often use Waze. Traffic in D.C. can be an absolute nightmare and this makes it just a little bit easier.
- Southwest: This is my airline of choice. I don’t fly that often (probably once or twice a year round trip), but I trust Southwest and usually look here first.
- Dating apps! I found myself spending too much time here and I generally think they were bad for my mental health. No shame to anyone that uses them, I know I have for quite a while. I just had this moment of clarity last week and deleted them all for my own reasons. I’m going to write on this topic eventually, but I noticed the mental health payoffs for me personally were almost instant.
- I have significantly fewer news apps. My job requires me to be in-tuned with the news and I think it’s an important part of being a good citizen. That said, I’m usually always at my computer and get my news alerts there. I still have the New York Times installed, but I no longer get the same notification six times from six different media companies.
- Food/Restaurant/Shopping apps: I’m not denying that they are useful or convenient, but I think they were almost too convenient for me. Thanks to YNAB, I was able to examine my budget and look at where I was overspending and food (as in dining out) was the easiest place to cut back. I’ve found that by deleting the apps that make it easy to spend money on the go, I’m actually spending less. I’ve kept Starbucks, but now when I want to order food or shop at Amazon or Target, I have to do it through an actual internet browser. This extra barrier works for me, most of the time.