Your Time Is Valuable
There are only so many hours in the day, and it’s no secret that your busy life leaves little room for everything on your to-do list. But where there’s a smartphone, there’s a solution.
If you’re too tired to cook, you’re covered. Skip the obvious choices for takeout and download a free app that can send gourmet meals to your door in as little as 15 minutes.
Live in San Francisco, Palo Alto, or Chicago? Sprig (for Android and iOS) is a food delivery service that focuses on fresh, organic meals. Menu sample: spice-rubbed ropa vieja with coconut collard greens.
Live in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami, Minneapolis, L.A., Philadelphia, Sacramento, the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, or Washington, D.C.? Try Caviar (for Android and iOS), which elevates takeout by curating the best meals from the most in-demand restaurants in town.
Never Go to the Post Office Again
Download the app Shyp (for Android and iOS) and all your shipping needs can be met from the comfy confines of your own home. If you live in San Francisco, L.A., New York, Miami or Chicago, Shyp will pick up, package, and send your items for you. Plus it compares carriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS so get the lowest shipping rates. Shyp charges a $5 flat service fee for courier pickup of your items, but the fee covers up to 20 packages that they’ll pick up at one time.
Personal Assistant, Please
Download the app Easily Do (for Android and iOS) and you’ll feel like you’ve hired a brilliant personal assistant — only this one fits in the palm of your hand. The app syncs to just about all the existing programs on your phone and then processes that information so you can customize your preferences as you see fit.
Need reminders about appointments? Done. Want to automate messages you’d typically send (generating a “Happy birthday!” post on a pal’s social media feed; texting your BFF that you’re on your way to your dinner reservation)? Already sent. Going away and need to pull up a boarding pass that you forgot to print? Easily Do does that too.
The free version has these strong features, but there are premium subscriptions — starting at $4.99 — to give you even less to worry about (think: real-time travel alerts).
Handle Your Dirty Laundry
Why spend hours toiling over your soiled clothes when Silicon Valley is one step ahead, designing apps that allow you to have your dirty laundry whisked away and returned fast just by tapping your screen? Two leaders in the field: Washio (for Android and iOS) washes and folds or dry-cleans items in five major cities, from Boston to Oakland (with plans to expand nationwide), and FlyCleaners (for Android and iOS) is an NYC-based service that works from 6 am to midnight seven days a week.
While the apps are free, the services are not. Washio requires a $30 and 15-pound minimum order plus $5.99 delivery fee. FlyCleaners has free pickup and delivery for orders over $30 (otherwise, you pay a $3.99 fee). The rates aren’t cheap, especially if you spend about $1.50 or $2 per wash and dry to DIY. Still, if spending more than three times this amount is worth your precious time, these apps are priceless.
Manage Your Tweets
When you have multiple social media accounts and need to streamline your activity, download Buffer (for Android and iOS). It helps you schedule and manage your posts so you can appear logged in all the time (even when you’re not) and get you noticed on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Buffer is free, but you can also upgrade to the “Awesome Plan” if you really want to up your online game. It starts at $10 a month and includes management of your RSS feed and the ability to store 100 posts at a time, instead of 10 per social network on the free plan.
Find a Chaperone
When you’re not just managing the workplace but also your home, how much would you pay for the peace of mind knowing where all your loved ones are at any given moment? With Life360 (for Android and iOS), this knowledge is free.
Input your chosen circle of smartphone owners (from older kids to babysitters to your aging mom). Then Life360 takes it from there, using GPS technology providing you with a real-time map that shows you where everyone is, any time. The software even offers users the chance to customize written alerts like “I’m here!” when someone reaches a favorite destination.
Bonus: When your phone is lost, the app will track it down.
Stop Flailing at the Gym
When it’s time to get on board with a new healthy-living plan, start by downloading Withings Health Mate, a free wellness app (for Android and iOS) that monitors your physical activity level, sleep, weight, and even your heart rate.
Carry your phone when you jog or walk around the block and it’ll count your steps like a pedometer. Put your finger on your smartphone’s camera to count your heartbeats and make sure they’re in the normal or fat-burning range, depending on what you’re going for.
The app also syncs easily with other related free apps, like RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal, plus (non-free) add-ons like a wearable BodyMedia Armband. Either way, the Health Mate analyzes the data and inspires with motivational words that coax you to committing to your wellness plan.
Prefer being pushed by a personal trainer that can show you what to do? Download Sworkit Lite (for Android and iOS), a free workout app that takes you through five hour-long workouts with up to 160 different body-weight exercises.
Find Deals on Airfare
Hiring a human travel agent is mostly a thing of the past. It’s time for spending hours comparing flight prices to become a relic, too. Download the free app Hopper (for Android and iOS) and let it save you up to 40 percent on travel fares by analyzing billions of flights for the best deals.
Fares still too steep? Customize the app so you can “watch” certain itineraries, and Hopper will let you know when the price goes down. After you’ve booked your trip, add the free app Citymapper (Android and iOS) to your smartphone. It maps (in real time) public transit routes in 17 cities, from London to Tokyo, so you’ll never get lost.
Handle Your Business
When you run a business, an app that can take on time-consuming and costly accounting tasks is a must. Here’s where FreshBooks (for Android and iOS) stands out. It manages basic jobs like sending invoices and tracking expenses, but it also does more, from categorizing those expenses and recording your billable hours to helping you manage your customer info, oversee projects, and even generate reports — all from your smartphone.
Downloading this cloud-based app is free and includes a 30-day free trial. If you like it, expect to pay for a plan that starts at $9.95 per month; pricing depends on the number of clients you have and whether additional staffers need access to the system.