The term ‘life hack’ was coined way back in 2004 by a journalist describing the shortcuts that IT professionals use to increase their productivity.
Since then, the phrase has taken on a life of its own and is now used to describe any trick or novel method for getting things done – spawning a whole new genre of YouTube videos in the process.
In the light of this, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best life hack apps that you shouldn’t be without, to help you make the most of your smartphone and get one step closer to being healthier, more mindful and twice as productive.
My Fitness Pal
With 80% of people giving up on their new year’s resolution to lose weight by February, it’s clear that achieving your weight-loss goals can be tough. But what if you didn’t have to go it alone?
For those of you who can’t afford a personal trainer, the next best thing is an app like My Fitness Pal, a handy companion on your phone that tracks your diet and exercise, and encourages you to make better dietary choices.
With an estimated 600k downloads, the app is very popular online and has attracted a lot of attention for gamifying weight loss and motivating users to stay on track.
Looking after your physical health is important and has lots of benefits for your mental health. So we’re taking you from body to mind with Simple Habit, a five-minute meditation app that’s great for busy people.
The app is like Spotify for the mind and features dozens of guided meditations to help you break away from your busy routine and find some zen in your spare time.
The guided meditations are run by a number of teachers, so you can explore different styles and techniques to find the one that works best for you.
If you’re a habitual putter-offer or struggle not to look at your phone every 10 minutes, then you need Forest, an anti-procrastination tool that works by encouraging you to step away from your phone and focus on the things you need to do.
If you have some work to do but you keep reaching for your phone, you can use the app to set aside some time and ‘plant a tree’. The tree will grow while you do your chores, but if you unlock your smartphone and leave the app, your tree will die. Doing this incentivises you to actively avoid looking at your mobile and focus on your work.
Your forest should get bigger as your willpower improves. Plus, Forest work in partnership with real tree-planting organisations, so using the app actually helps to combat deforestation.
Taking a short city break can be stressful if you have a nervous bladder. Although, it needn’t be a nightmare with the right life hack.
Flush is a crowdsourced app that helps users to find public bathrooms in a hurry. It stores the locations of thousands of restrooms on your phone, so you’ll always be able to find somewhere to spend a penny, with or without a WiFi connection.
Also, the app’s in-built map is updated using data from Google, so you can confidently navigate using Flush as well as find out if your nearest restroom is free or has disabled access.
On the topic of travel, installing a virtual private network (VPN) app on your smartphone can help you to source cheaper flights and protect your personal information while you’re on holiday.
A VPN consists of a network of secure servers that you can use to access the internet. They encrypt your data before it leaves your device, so if you log on at the airport or pop into a coffee shop to take advantage of the free WiFi, you can surf the web safe in the knowledge that your data is protected by military-standard encryption. But that’s not all.
The cost of a flight usually depends on where you’re buying your ticket. For example, British customers looking for a flight from London to Helsinki might pay twice as much as customers from France. Since VPNs feature numerous servers in multiple countries, you can use yours to disguise your real location and shop for flights from somewhere cheaper.
You might have heard of Duolingo before; it’s a fantastic language-learning app that millions of people use to learn foreign languages. With its latest update, the app has a brand-new layout, better graphics and a more expressive Duo – the adorable little mascot who cheers you on.
The app uses fun, bite-sized lessons to improve your vocabulary and make you feel more confident with speaking a new language. The in-app lessons are also designed to develop your listening and reading skills in over 30 languages, including Spanish, German and Italian.
As the world of mobile apps continues to grow, the number of tools that users have at their disposal is enormous. So if there’s a particular habit of yours that you wish to kick, or you struggle to focus on the things that will make your life better, consider browsing the Play Store for an app to hack your way forward. There are thousands to choose from, and it should help to provide the impetus you need to achieve your goals.