For busy professionals, daily routines and rituals provide much-needed structure and comfort in the midst of a hectic schedule. A granola bar in the morning, for instance, might keep you going into the afternoon. Thirty minutes of cardio after work gets your body ready for the next day. An episode of Seinfeld before you doze off makes you wake up smiling the next morning. These are just a few of the types of habits that many people grow accustomed to.
Sometimes, though, routines become stale. You might, for instance, feel uninspired about the exercise regimen you’ve practiced for half a decade. Or, maybe you can no longer bring yourself to complete mundane daily tasks, like logging your receipts or making a healthy breakfast.
If your chores or routine could use some pep, check out these seven tips on how to shake up your day.
When you’re chronically on-the-go, breakfast is the easiest meal to skip. You never seem to have the time to make a healthy breakfast, and doesn’t it seem a lot easier to either forgo early morning nutrients or pick something up on the way to work?
Unfortunately, neither of the aforementioned scenarios plays out well for your nutrition or productivity. When you skip breakfast, nutritionists say, you overeat at lunch. When you settle for a doughnut, pastry or fatty breakfast sandwich on the way to work, you ingest half a day’s worth of saturated fat before noon.
To avoid skipping breakfast or settling for sugary substitutes, cook a week’s worth of steel-cut oats on Sunday night. The oats take a while to make (which is one of the reasons you might abstain from them normally), so bring them to a boil before you go to bed, turn off the heat and let them sit overnight. When you wake up in the morning, divvy the oats up and put them in mason jars or tupperware. Voila. You have a week’s worth of breakfast after only five minutes of effort.
Working through your to-do list probably isn’t going to be the highlight of your day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore. HabitRPG is a web and mobile application that sorts the tasks and habits you want to work on and incorporates them into a character-based role-playing game. If you set out to eat less junk food and go to the dry cleaners and post office, for example, your avatar can gain badges, buy weapons and armor and level up. If you fail to stop biting your nails and forget to call your grandmother, however, your character could lose points.
HabitRPG is also social; users can share their profiles and characters with their friends. Additionally, it can integrate outside apps. For example, HabitRPG can sync with your Fitbit and determine if you walked five miles this week like you promised to do.
The benefits of regular mediation are manifold; taking time to relax and reflect has been scientifically proven to improve memory and productivity, as well as greatly decrease stress levels. Despite meditation’s boons, many people never begin a reflection routine because of the high price of a teacher and the stigma of a stringent time commitment. What if you could meditate for free on your smartphone?
Calm is a free web and mobile app that helps users topple the barriers to meditation. The program has an easy-to-follow guide for beginners and seven narrated meditation sessions (they vary in length from two minutes to a half hour) for when you’re ready to move onto regular sessions. Users can also choose their nature scene and soundtrack. For those who want more meditation classes, Calm offers 50 premium sessions.
If you get your teeth cleaned twice a year (or at least that’s what you tell your parents), you usually only have two opportunities per annum to receive feedback about how you’re caring for your (hopefully) pearly whites — and that’s if you’re laying out to go to the dentist.
For many, determining hygienic health often comes down to guess work. Have I gotten my molars this week? What spots am I missing? Is my technique shoddy?
Kolibree is a smart toothbrush that connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone to give you real-time reports about your brushing habits. The device has three sensors that monitor how you’re attending to each quadrant of your mouth, how long you’re brushing for and what directions you’re moving the brush in. All that information gets transmitted back to your smartphone and graphed for you to pick apart. It can even be sent to your dentist, who can give you feedback, if you’re that brave.
If you’re a busy freelancer or stickler for financial accountability, you know how arduous and frustrating receipt tracking can be. Paper receipts get lost in the fold and e-receipts get buried in your inbox, creating an untraceable paper trail.
Instead of spending hours riffling through paper and punching numbers into a spreadsheet, let Shoeboxed take care of your expenses. The app is able to scan, track and sort all of your receipts and expense reports, the latter of which is important for tax purposes. Don’t feel like scanning every piece of paper? Send them to Shoeboxed in a prepaid “Magic Envelope” and the company will catalogue and store them in your smartphone. For online purchases, Shoeboxed uses algorithms that ingest price information and spit out price comparisons, so you can be better informed during your next shopping trip.
In 2014, push notifications are the gold standard for reminders. You can have your smartphone send you a notification for just about anything, whether that’s calling your grandmother or filing your taxes. Our reliance on notification has its drawbacks, however.
One is that we’re now used to discarding and ignoring digital notifications without batting an eye. If you’re someone who’s inundated with notifications and, as a result, has trouble separating urgent items from mundane emails, try sending yourself notes in email form. You might find that by sieving important notes into your inbox rather than your home screen, you’re more likely to store and refer back to them.
Captio is a mobile app that works with or without Internet to store your precious thoughts and reminders. You can use Captio to type yourself a note or annotate an image. If you’re without internet, Captio can save the note and send it to your inbox the next time you access the internet. The app also integrates with popular task management services like Evernote and OmniFocus.
Routinized exercise is great for your physical health, but that doesn’t always mean it’s stimulating, refreshing or rewarding. For many, going to the gym becomes tedious and rote; you use the same machines or take the same classes, and find diminishing enthusiasm and results along the way.
Financially, though, it can be nearly impossible to change things up. After all, how many of us can afford multiple gym or studio memberships?
ClassPass removes that financial barrier. The service gives users access to 500 classes or studios, and users can go to 10 classes for $99 per month. Because they can’t go to the same class more than three times in one month, ClassPass users sample a variety of fitness options in their area, which they can check into on ClassPass’s app or website.
How have you shaken up your daily routine? Tell us in the comments.