It’s the new year. Which, if you think about it, just means a few hours have passed since the last year. Nothing is fundamentally different in your life or mine or in the world. However, it does provide a good chance to evaluate life, reconsider things that we’d like to change, and set some goals for the next 365 calendar turnovers. I don;t mean the sort of resolutions that set the bar so high as to lead to inevitable disappointment. I mean realistic, measurable, pursuable goals to strengthen areas of life we wish were better. Here are some apps I use (and have used for a few years now) to help me do just that.
Bible Reading – ReadingPlan
This free app offers a variety of Bible reading plans to help you stay on track – chronological, M’Cheyne, straight through, etc. They are designed to help you read through the Bible in a year, but the time is much less important than simply reading through the Bible. Every Christian should read the entire Bible, and plans like these help a ton by dividing scripture into manageable chunks and helping you track progress. I use the plans with numbers instead of dates next to each day’s reading (an option they offer) so that I don’t fall into the trap of feeling like a failure for “falling behind”.
Bible Listening – Dwell
Dwell is a fantastic audio Bible app with a pile of features (listening plans, pause and reflect, background music, sleep timer, etc.) to help you find the most effective way to get into scripture. It is wonderful during your commute, working out, doing chores or yard work, or any other margin of life. I use it especially when I am trying to memorize or study particular passages. It has an annual subscription fee, but if you go through the link you can get a 20% discount which comes to less than $2 per month.
Saving Money – Digit
I found digit a few years ago and it is super helpful. It is a money saving app that can be automated based on the status of whatever bank account you tie it to. So it will save bit by bit as your account can afford it and slow down or stop if you cannot. You can tell it to save more or less aggressively, and you can manually deposit money as well. And you can pause automated withdrawals whenever you like. If you are like me and aren’t the most disciplined saver, this app is super helpful for emergency savings or saving for a specific expense. (AND for signing up through the link they’ll give you and me both $5.)
Reading – Goodreads
Goodreads is like a playground for book lovers. It allows you to set goals, track your progress, interact with other readers, make wish lists, discover new titles or authors, leave ratings and reviews, see how other review books, and it even connects directly with Kindle if you’re into that sort of thing. If you want to read more books, read more from a certain author, read more of a specific genre, or set some other goal Goodreads is the ideal app to help with that. It is both fun and useful and an ideal environment for those who want to be better reader.
Book Listening – Libby
As much as I love to read, I find that life rather too demanding to sit and focus as often as I would like. That doesn’t mean I need to miss out on books (and for FREE too!). Libby connects to any library where you have an account so you can check out audio books on your mobile device. I love this, especially for fiction and history books. It is a great way to get more literature into your life even if you are exceptionally busy.
Nutrition/Health – MyFitnessPal
I’m in my late 30s and I love to eat. That means that several years ago I realized that my desk-sitting, restaurant-eating, coke-drinking lifestyle was really sticking with me. Mostly as love handles. In talking to my over-40 friends it seems this condition doesn’t resolve itself. So I had to figure out how to fix it, or at least fight it to a standstill. MyFitnessPal is an app (and website) that allows users to track all the food they eat, set goals for caloric intake, and track calories burned. It syncs with other fitness apps (Apple, fitbit, etc.) so that you can see the net intake of calories as well. Mostly it is a source of eating accountability as you see shocking numbers attached to donuts and cookies and all your favorite beverages.