And, perhaps, cooler too.
As a 36-year-old Midwestern dad living in metro Detroit with my wife and two kids, a five-year-old son and two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and an entrepreneur with a roster of clients looking to socially engage with their customers, it’s kind of my job to stay informed of trends and it’s important to know the hot new apps that can shave a few minutes off my day.
There are millions of apps to choose from but the ones on my home screen are the ones I use every day to get the stuff done that needs to get done.
These are the eight apps that I use to keep it together and help me be a better, more productive (and just maybe even cooler) dad.
1. – Evernote
Evernote allows you to capture information quickly from anywhere, using whatever device you have in the hand. You can take photos, write notes, or record audio. It’s perfect for getting rid of your reliance on paper, and keeping everything stored in one place.
Evernote is the central hub of the Wenzel household and my Fuzzy Wenzel business ventures. I literally store and save everything that happens in my life to an assigned folder in the app. What does that mean? When the DTE bill is paid the confirmation number goes into the DTE notebook. When Atticus (my son) has a doctor’s appointment with some valuable information … Boom! I take a photo with my iPhone and send the picture to the assigned notebook. In a nutshell, if you feel like you never know when you need to find that “one receipt” and you have no idea where you placed it, Evernote has you covered. In addition to storing my loose paperwork, the app also has a simple word processor built into the tool. In fact, I wrote this article inside of Evernote. I could go on and on and tell you how I’ve set up some simple automation using IFTTT and Evernote but we’ll save that for another time …
2. – Wunderlist
Keep your life in sync
Wunderlist is the easiest way to get stuff done. Whether you’re planning a holiday, sharing a shopping list with a partner or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist is here to help you tick off all your personal and professional to-dos.
I have been a user of Wunderlist since the day it came rushing into the app world. Right now I only use their free tier package, but it does everything I need. So, anytime the wife tells me to do something, or I need to remember that critical thing a client told me in a random email, I take that info and log it in Wunderlist. I also use the app for small personal goals and objectives as well. I’ve created a list of “Long Term” goals that I add to once in a great while. I’ve found that I like being able to quickly see some of my personal, business and family long term plans with a click of the mouse. What’s in the long term goals, you ask? Get out of debt, buy a house in 18 months, and get the new agency set up with more long term clients. Glancing at these goals every day keeps me focused.
3. – Dark Sky
Dark Sky uses state-of-the-art technology to predict when it will rain or snow — down to the minute — at your exact location and presents it to you alongside the most beautiful weather visualizations you’ve ever seen.
This one should be a no-brainer. I’ve got to get the kids dressed in the morning for school and there is no way I’m going to be the dad who dressed his kids in shorts when it’s supposed to be 30 degrees outside. I’m also not the guy who gets stuck in the rain without an umbrella. This app updates in as close to real-time as you can get. There were a few times last summer that this app kept me and the family dry. The $3 price tag is an easy pill to swallow for a happy, safe, and dry family.
4. – Headspace
Headspace is meditation made simple. Headspace is a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation delivered via an app or online.
Did you read my intro? My sanity level is slowing slipping with the crazy chaos in the Wenzel homestead and the “serenity now” bit from Seinfeld really doesn’t hold water. Headspace is my attempt to find five minutes a day of “Jeff peace”. When I first found this app I started using it every day and then I let the daily nuttiness take over and forgot about this gem of an app. Recently I’ve started to deep dive back into the tool and instantly I remembered what I was missing. Finding ZEN!
Apple’s built-in Podcasts app covers all the basics. Audio and video, download and streaming, discovery and subscription. It also syncs with iTunes on Mac and Windows.
So, if you’re just getting into podcasts, it’s a great app to get into them with. If and when you’re ready for something else — or something more — there are several excellent options available on the App Store.
I wish I had a cooler podcast app to recommend, but the truth is the Apple app does everything I need it to do. It seems to take me 30 minutes to get anywhere here in the Detroit area. So instead of meaningless radio, I pop in my earbuds and sit back for some stories. My favorite podcasts? Marc Maron WTF, Start-Up, Planet Money, Monocle: The Entrepreneurs.
6. – Feed.ly
Feed.ly is a news aggregator application for various web browsers and mobile devices running iOS and Android, also available as a cloud-based service.
How do I stay on top of what’s going on in the world? I check Feed.ly multiple times a day. Feed.ly grabs all the RSS feeds that I think are appropriate for me to follow and every day I’m delivered the newest information without doing any work. (I have the pro version of Feed.ly because I need to have access to the share feature to apps like Buffer and IOS sharing for my consulting business.) If you need a simple way to curate content for your social media channels then integrating Feed.ly and Buffer is a sweet, sweet combo meal.
7. – Hipstamatic
Hipstamatic is a photography company aiming to inspire the world to live more beautifully and creatively.
Through a variety of offerings, including Hipstamatic, Oggl, IncrediBooth, and Snap Magazine, Hipstamatic encourages its community to tap into their inner artist and use photography as a gateway back to creativity.
In my quest to be a “cool dad” I figured out that I have to have the best photos of my kids on Facebook. With an array of filters and film, and old school lenses, I use Hipstamatic during the precious moments with my friends and family to make people envious of my photographic abilities. What more could you ask for in an iPhone camera app? I love the feeling and energy some of the old school films and glass give to classic moments. Follow me on Facebook to see my simple family photos enhanced with this great app.
8. – Grammarly
Grammarly is a writing enhancement platform developed by Grammarly, Inc., and launched in 2009. Grammarly’s proofreading and plagiarism-detection resources check for a writer’s adherence to more than 250 grammar rules.
I have a dark, dirty secret. I can’t spell anything and the dreaded comma barely exists in my attempts at writing. Add that to the other problem of being a notorious multi-tasker and you’ve got the recipe for some crazy emails. This is where Grammarly is saving my butt. No more “face-palm”-sounding emails from my outbox. This app is definitely not a complete “save-all” but it slows me down a bit to ensure that before I hit send I sound, well, almost scholarly.
Hope you find something useful here to be cooler, smarter, more in-touch, and better organized.
Previously Published on STAND-Magazine
By Jeff “fuzzy” Wenzel