So many apps, so little time. Many of us download dozens of them across a year, but only a handful become fully useful on a daily basis and cut across the key spheres of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual engagement.

Here’s three apps that have risen to the top for me:

1. Evernote

What it is: A cloud-based tool for storing and retrieving information, ideas, photos, documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoints, and so forth.

How much it costs: Free for basic version, $45 per year if you use it a lot and want to upgrade for extra storage (well worth the cost).

How it’s optimized my life:
More than any other app or tool, Evernote has helped me become very efficient at storing and retrieving information and resources that I need at my fingertips, and it’s saved me a ton of paper as well as the extra time required for inputting written notes into an electronic format. Across the past seven years, I’ve used it to organize thousands of pieces of key information related to work, family, writing, health, travel, finances, and other topics. It’s a huge win to always have this information available, as Evernote syncs across any device or laptop. Evernote also allows you to record ideas or snap pictures, for easy retrieval later on.

Another bonus is that you can get your Outlook to link to Evernote, making it easy to store important emails without clogging up your Outlook space. You can also email items directly to your Evernote inbox.

Here’s a tip: Create and title folders in Evernote, in which you can organize all of your various notes, and duplicate these same categories within your email, web browser, and laptop files. This will make it very easy to copy and paste things back and forth between these various electronic platforms.

2. Amazon Kindle

What it is: A cloud-based app for reading anything you download or buy from the Amazon Kindle Store.

How much it costs: The app itself is free, as are samples of the opening pages of Kindle books.

How it’s optimized my life:
I’ve used this app for about seven years as well. As a voracious reader and visual learner who prefers to look at pages of a book (as opposed to listening to audio books, although I do enjoy those on long car trips), this app allows me to store an unlimited (at least, so far!) number of books in the cloud, for quick retrieval and syncing via any device.

As a talent development professional and a writer who lives and breathes content, the ability to “highlight” passages from books and download these highlights from the cloud provides wonderful ease for storing and retrieving ideas and information. It’s also easy to copy and paste sentences or paragraphs directly into another electronic format, including status updates on social media.

I still love paper books and continue to buy them; but for volumes on topics that I know I’ll need for my professional work, Kindle is the way to go.

3. Lose It!

What it is: A cloud-based, goal-setting app for recording the foods and drinks you consume, tracking exercise and calories burned, and insightful data on one’s overall eating and exercise habits.

How much it costs: Free for basic version, $3 per month to unlock all of the sophisticated reporting and trend analysis.

How it’s optimized my life:
This app is new for me, but it’s made a massive impact already. Since late January 2018, I’ve lost 15 pounds and counting, with a goal of losing about 15 more by this summer.

The wonderful thing about my new “diet” and approach to fitness is that it’s all sustainable; I’ve simply grown disciplined toward understanding the science behind nutrition and eating, such as specific amounts of calories within different foods and drinks, and the amount of calories that can be burned through specific exercises within defined time intervals.

I’m intentional about ensuring that a majority of my daily food intake comes from protein, and I’ve dramatically reduced my intake of bread and pasta products. Lose It! has made all of this easy to organize, input, and track, and saves me the trouble of having to type in a bunch of information from food labels, because I can scan the bar code with the app and it automatically populates calorie counts and amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sodium, sugars, and so forth.

If you want to lose weight or simply get more fit, and are skeptical about fad diets, check out this app and use it to its fullest ability…which, after not quite two months in, I’m still discovering!

Which apps have optimized your life?

Growing Your Strengths

I’m a Nashville-based writer, talent strategist, and certified executive coach. On this website, I primarily write stories featuring a diverse group of professionals whose examples of applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling will help you love your career and enhance your quality of life.

These characters face familiar pain points: nonstop change, accelerating economic and technological disruption, and the collective “noise” that grows louder each day. The impact, for these professionals and for many of us, has been confusion, distraction, and stress.

Until, however, each of these individuals chooses to do something new: practicing mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling habits, and growing them into strengths…strengths that respond to change rather than just react.

Strengths that you can develop as well.

Don’t settle for the confusion, distraction, and stress. You’re stronger than that, and capable of much more.

Choose to do something new. Today. Start with this post, check out my books, and join our learning community to receive free, exclusive content via email each month with timely guidance on applying mindfulness, learning agility, and storytelling.