8 Bad Work Habits To Ditch Now

MO­BILE APPS TO LIVE A BET­TER LIFE

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TUNE OUT STRESS

Down­load: Calm (free, from Google Play and iTunes)

DRINK MORE WA­TER

Down­load: Wa­ter Your Body (free, from Google Play)

You know you need to keep well- hy­drated, and that drink­ing wa­ter is the best way to do so. Ex­per ts tell us that de­hy­dra­tion causes dry skin, con­sti­pa­tion, low en­ergy lev­els and even dizzy spells. But it’s so easy to for­get to drink enough through­out the day.

Wa­ter Your Body will help you set a daily wa­ter tar­get based on your weight and height, and buzz you with re­minders to drink up. Log­ging your wa­ter in­take is as easy as tap­ping on one of eight bev­er­age con­tainer icons, from mugs to take­away cups, bot­tles, pint glasses and more. You can spec­ify the vol­ume for each of th­ese icons to re  ect the serv­ing size of the con­tain­ers you usu­ally drink from. Al­ter­na­tively, con­sider Wa­ter Tracker, free from iTunes. It lets you set a daily goal, sends you re­minders, and you can also cus­tomise the ca­pac­ity of your vir­tual glasses. Star t the app and you’re greeted by a tran­quil na­ture scene – think moun­tains, rain, sun­rise, clouds and lakes – paired with a sooth­ing sound­track. You can leave it on as long as you like, let­ting the scene and sounds work their calm­ing ef­fects on you, or you can set the timer (from one minute to eight hours), which will then gen­tly rouse you from the ses­sion with a soft chime.

Al­ter­na­tively, se­lect one of two free guided med­i­ta­tion pro­grammes (Calm to ease ten­sion, and Body Scan to re­lax), which range from two to 30 min­utes. The med­i­ta­tion ad­vice is neu­tral, with in­struc­tions like “Take a deep breath” and “Let your shoul­ders re­lax”. All th­ese fea­tures are free, but you can sub­scribe at US$12.98 (S$18.40) a month to un­lock more guided med­i­ta­tion ses­sions.

MOVE MORE

Down­load: Google Fit (free, from Google Play)

No fancy  tness- track­ing band? No prob­lem. Your smart­phone is good enough for mea­sur­ing ba­sic ac­tiv­i­ties like walk­ing, run­ning and cy­cling. Once you’ve in­stalled Google Fit and keyed in your gen­der, height and weight, the app will star t count­ing steps and dis­tance cov­ered to es­ti­mate calo­ries burnt, as long as you have your phone with you.

The bril­liant par t is that it’ll au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect walk­ing, run­ning and cy­cling, so you don’t need to prompt the app be­fore th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties. Oth­er­wise, you can man­u­ally add other work­outs, from zumba and kick- box­ing to yoga, and Google Fit will ap­prox­i­mate the calo­rie count based on the du­ra­tion you in­put.

You can also con­nect Google Fit to other apps to cross- share  tness data. This means your runs can be synced across Google Fit as well as on apps like Run­keeper, or if you’re on the pop­u­lar weight- loss app, Noom Coach, you’ll be pleased to tell at a glance that your  tness ac­tiv­i­ties are coun­ter­ing the calo­ries con­sumed. Al­ter­na­tively, con­sider Ap­ple Health, built into iOS 8 and iOS 9. On its own, it can be used to track the num­ber of steps, dis­tance walked/ran, and num­ber of  ights climbed. You can also hook it up to other  tness apps.

EX­ER­CISE YOUR BRAIN

Down­load: Peak (free, from Google Play and iTunes)

To keep your brain con­tin­u­ally chal­lenged, there’s Peak, which of­fers a di­verse range of games that tar­gets mem­ory, at­ten­tion, prob­lem- solv­ing, men­tal agility and lan­guage. The in­struc­tions are sim­ple, but the games can be chal­leng­ing. I was nim­ble at sort­ing pic­ture cards by shape and colour, but dis­ap­pointed to  nd that I wasn’t as great at ana­grams as I’d thought.

The scores are used to char t a brain map of your cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, and you can even add Face­book con­tacts and star t a friendly com­pe­ti­tion. You can also set re­minders to hit Peak’s rec­om­mended tar­get of  ve cog­ni­tive games a week.

GET FIT­TER

Down­load: Sworkit (free, from Google Play and iTunes)

Sworkit is all about work­outs that work around your sched­ule. So de­pend­ing on whether you have just  ve min­utes to spare or a full hour, the app will rec­om­mend a se­quence of ex­er­cises for you.

Star t by se­lect­ing from four cat­e­gories (strength, car­dio, yoga and stretch­ing), spec­ify how much time you have, and it’ll have you sweat­ing along to video demos by pro­fes­sional train­ers.

If you pre­fer, you can de­sign your own work­outs too. There’s an ex­ten­sive list of ex­er­cises to pick from – for in­stance, jump­ing jacks and push- ups un­der the Up­per Body sec­tion, or burpees and planks if it’s Core Strength you’re af­ter.

Sworkit even has Spo­tify playlists to keep your en­ergy go­ing. All you have to do is tap on the mu­sic note at the top right of your screen to be di­rected to your Spo­tify app (which you’d have to down­load in ad­vance).

CUL­TI­VATE GOOD HEALTH HABITS

Down­load: Too­dledo (free, from Google Play; $ 4.98, from iTunes)

Too­dledo is ac­tu­ally a to- do list app but its habit- track­ing fea­ture is im­pres­sive and should help you get on your way to liv­ing more healthily.

You can mark habits like “ os­s­ing” or “no junk food” as com­plete or in­com­plete. And for other habits, you can in­put the time spent on them, such as “hours of sleep” and “min­utes on the tread­mill”.

There is also a  ve- star rat­ing op­tion to help you track things like your daily fruit and veg­etable in­take – for in­stance, give your­self one star if you ate a piece of fruit, three stars if you had a side of veg with your chicken rice, or a full  ve stars if you had a salad for lunch. All this lets you track how much or lit­tle you’re do­ing for each habit, and hope­fully, helps you make baby- step changes to your life­style.

LEARN A NEW LAN­GUAGE

Down­load: Duolingo (free, from Google Play and iTunes)

If pick­ing up a new lan­guage is on your bucket list, Duolingo is right up your al­ley. Pick from 10 lan­guages such as French, Span­ish, and Por tuguese, and the app will have you learn­ing ba­sic vo­cab­u­lary (food, places, peo­ple, num­bers and so on) and com­mon phrases through its bite- sized lessons.

For­get about te­dious gram­mar drills and re­peat­ing words ad nau­seam. We love the cute, pic­to­rial  ash cards, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing voice- overs are help­ful in learn­ing the cor­rect pro­nun­ci­a­tion. So, if you’ve a spare minute dur­ing your com­mute or lunch break, just  re up Duolingo. Who knows, it might just come in handy as you pre­pare for your next va­ca­tion.

WORK MORE EF­FI­CIENTLY

Down­load: Pomodoro Time (free, from iTunes)

Work in shor t bursts and take fre­quent breaks to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity – that’s the ba­sis of the pop­u­lar Pomodoro Tech­nique its le­gions of fans swear by.

It goes like this: De­cide on one task to work on, and fo­cus solely on it for 25 min­utes. When the timer buzzes, stop and take a  ve- minute breather. Now you’ve com­pleted one Pomodoro cy­cle. Af­ter four cy­cles, take an ex­tended break of 15 to 30 min­utes to recharge. If you’re work­ing on a large pro­ject, you’re en­cour­aged to di­vide it into smaller, man­age­able chunks, and each of that can make one Pomodoro cy­cle.

Of course, the 25+5 combo is re­ally just a guide­line, and Pomodoro Time is  ex­i­ble, so you can ad­just task and break times to suit the na­ture of your work. The task- list fea­ture is good for jot­ting down your goals for each cy­cle, and the app also tracks how pro­duc­tive you are by char ting how many Po­modoros you’ve man­aged each day. Al­ter­na­tively, con­sider Po­motodo (free, from Google Play), which also lets you cus­tomise your Pomodoro du­ra­tions and add tasks to a to- do list.

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