Apps To Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet

Apps To Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet

New Year, New You: There's An App For That
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There's an app for everything...or nearly everything. With winter break now almost a memory, New Year's resolutions strained as the novelty wears off (seriously, running every morning sounds great when you're lying in bed the night before, but it sounds awful the morning of), and the new semester fast approaching, why not check out some apps that will help you be a better you in this new year?

If your resolution was to get organized, then check out the following apps.

Evernote

I discovered Evernote in high school and have been a staunch advocate of this app since virtually day one. Evernote allows you to take notes, make to-do lists, clip web pages to your notebooks, and is based in the cloud, so you'll never lose any of it. It seamlessly integrates with its desktop client, which allows you to access your work from both your phone and your computer. My Evernote is full of everything from half-finished shopping lists (note to self: buy more salsa), to my term papers from the fall. Seriously, I can't recommend this app enough. If you stop reading this article now, you'll have come out ahead for downloading it.

iStudiez Pro

It's not an argument that college is stressful, and that falling behind is just one overlong nap away. iStudiez Pro fixes that. It's a digital planner for today's college student -- going way beyond basic homework tracking. This app includes the ability to track your professors' office hours and contact information (pro-tip: put this in on the first day of classes, it helps when you inevitably lose your syllabus). The desktop version adds the ability to upload and collect files relevant to assignments, and even track your group project members' contact info.

Fantastical


Fantastical is a powerful alternative to Apple's standard calendar app, but it also integrates the reminders feature into my favorite day planner available. The best feature of this app is its intuitive parsing. If I want to schedule a coffee date on Thursday at two, I simply type "coffee date Thursday at 2" into the new event field, and it creates the event. The parsing feature is able to differentiate between reminders and calendar events with impressive accuracy.

If your resolution (like mine) was to be in better shape, then you have thousands of apps to choose from. These are the ones I use and recommend.

MyFitnessPal

Abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen, as the saying goes. Calorie counting is both the most essential aspect of getting fit, and the most annoying. MFP takes out most of pain in the ass aspects of calorie counting, relying on its massive food library to help you quickly and easily log your food intake daily. The app also tracks your weight and helps you set goals to keep your resolution on track. The reminders do get mildly passive-aggressive if you ignore them though, so be sure to stay on top of it!

Strava

I love running, and run tracking apps are a dime a dozen these days. I recommend Strava over its contemporaries for two main reasons. First, the app is the most accurate, in my experience. Before I switched to Strava, the app I used to track my running occasionally clocked me at three minutes for one mile, or tracked my running path right into a lake. As much as I wish I was that fast, I'm not, and knowing your pace is key to actually training. Strava also has a great web app, which I use to plan routes and compare times with my training partner.

Paprika

Paprika is an app for managing and curating recipes. Part of my personal resolution to get fitter was to cook for myself more, and resist the siren song of Chipotle. Paprika allows you to plan your meals for the week (or longer, if you're especially ambitious) using recipes you can either input yourself or clip from its native browser. Yes, that means you can save your Pinterest recipes into Paprika. The app also integrates shopping lists, nutrition information, and even has a built-in kitchen timer!

Sleep Cycle


If I could marry my bed, I probably would. Failing that, I'd settle for just my duvet. Jokes aside, sleep is the one thing that all college students simultaneously are in love with and need more of. Sleep cycle uses your phone's microphone (if it's on the nightstand) or accelerometer (if it's under your pillow) to track your sleep and provides you a sleep quality report when you wake up in the morning. Where the app really shines, however, is the way that it wakes you up. Rather than setting an alarm (or six) for a specific time, when you set Sleep Cycle, you set a range of time to be woken up during. The app then monitors your sleep and wakes you when you're in the lightest stage of sleep during that time. It sounds ludicrous, but it works.

These apps won't magically grant you more will power to avoid that brownie at Gordon's, but they'll make 2016 a year when you'll be better set up for success!

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Shanklin

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend

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Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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