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In the present year 2021 (finally!), there’s a mirage of applications to better oneself. Of all of the apps out there that claim to do this, my personal favorites happen to be those that are practical and insanely intuitive.

The five apps below are these kinds of apps: ones that make sense to anyone, and are effective enough to be worth your time. Without further ado, here’s five apps that will boost the health of you and your business in the new year.


Time management and productivity/focus


Rather than just one app in particular, this is more of a category of apps that share the same purpose: timing work sessions. As the name might suggest, these apps are based on the “Pomodoro” technique.

According to Lifehack.org, the Pomodoro technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. The name is derived from the Italian word for tomato, pomodoro, which happened to be the shape of Cirillo’s kitchen timer. However, the concept of splitting your time into 25 minute chunks, with five-minute breaks in between, is something many have done far before Cirillo named it after a tomato.

The idea is that splitting up your time into smaller segments will, at least for some, result in more creative energy and focus. If you haven’t tried it, it’s perhaps one of the easiest and most effective tools to improve focus and productivity on this list.

My picks: Goodtime for Android device and Focus Keeper for iOS devices.


Stress management

Let’s face it, work stress is a major issue. According to one study from the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers felt they dealt with stress in the workplace.

Since the pandemic, working from home brings a whole new set of stressors that many employees have not experienced before.

Keeping on the theme of practical apps, how about another timer? Perhaps one of the most effective ways to cope with stress (at least in the short term) is to “watch your breath.” Again, this is more of a category of applications, but any that show you a visual for timing your breathing is sufficient.

Taking deep breaths when you feel tense is one of the most effective ways of returning to a sense of calmness.

My picks: Breathe for Android and The Breathing App for iOS.




Getting off the couch and into motion is something that’s hard for more than a few people. How about an app that can coerce you into an exercise regimen?

(This is another category of apps, but that’s simply because it’s a proven concept that works.) “From Couch to 5K” is essentially a several week program that gradually increases the amount of running you’re doing, until you’re able to run 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) without stopping. It relies on interval running, which alternates between different paces of movement to increase the benefits of a set period of time. If paired with dieting, you stand a chance to lose some weight if you commit to a program like this. Best of all, it’s completely free, and requires no special equipment.

My picks: Just Run for Android and 5K Runner for iOS.



A personal favorite, iTrackBites, is a free alternative to WW (Weight Watchers). The concept is mostly the same: pick a plan with a certain number of points, track foods using barcodes and a food database, and keep tabs on your weight. That’s it.

It works because it’s simply a way to quantize your food intake. It helps to limit overeating and snacking by encouraging you to eat foods with fewer points.

There’s plenty of other apps out there that use a similar concept, but iTrackBites is the closest to WeightWatchers (if you’ve ever used it). There’s a premium option if you want a few more features.

My picks: iTrackBites for Android and iTrackBites for iOS



Remembering to do things is the backbone of all of these concepts, so how about an application that can help you remember?

One which I find practical as far as reminders and to-do lists are concerned is TickTick. It’s a multi-featured app that includes a calendar, planner, to-do list and reminders all in one package. It’s highly versatile and can be customized to your heart’s desire. All in all, it is one of the best ways to organize and to remember what you’re trying to achieve.

My pick: TickTick for both Android and iOS.


Overall, these five categories of apps should be a practical start to self-improvement. If you take care of yourself, you will take care of your business. 2020 was a challenging year, let’s make 2021 better by investing some time and energy into “us.” After all “you” are what is holding up your business and your success.



Heidi Shadel is a Cumberland business owner and graduate of Frostburg State University with a masters in business administration. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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