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The Apps That Can Help With Your Chaotic Life

My day-to-day life is pretty much chaos. It is. And most days, I’m ok with that. This is what I chose, after all. I chose to have children and continue my career. I chose to enroll all three children in the extra-curricular activity of their choosing. And for the most part, I love the daily chaos. I thrive on pressure. I love being busy. When I don’t have deadlines or a to-do list, I grow bored very quickly and then I become completely unmotivated.

Flipboard/SleepCycle/Checkout51

Even though I mostly don’t mind the chaos, I am particular about keeping everything in my life neat and compartmentalized. The only way any of this works is for my family to be very regiminted in our routines. I plan the entire week’s meals and shop for groceries once a week. Dishes are done and the kitchen is cleaned immediately after each meal. The house is picked up each night. Everyone pitches in. My 10 and 7-year-olds can start their own laundry and clean their bathroom like a pro. My 5-year-old can dust. Sometimes I even send him around the house with a Magic Eraser to scrub little black marks off the baseboards and doors. Things like that help me maintain my sanity.

I’d love to have a personal assistant. Unfortunately, no one wants to follow me around all day for free. The good news is, technology helps fill in some of the gaps. Several apps keep my days from derailing. Here are some of my favorites that help me stay sane and when I’m not, they sure help me fake it.

Grocery IQ: This is a super quick way to create and organize your grocery list.

Checkout 51: I am not a couponer, but I wish I were. I don’t have time for coupon clipping, so this app is the next best thing. It gives you a list of weekly offers Buy any or all of those items, take a photo of your receipt, and you receive cash back for each of the weekly offers you purchased. Once you hit $20, they send you a check.

Fandango: My kids love to go to the movies. It’s one of our favorite family activities. But if you wait until 3:45 on Saturday to buy tickets for the 4pm show on opening weekend, it’s going to be sold out. After carting off crying, disappointed kids one too many times, I started purchasing my tickets in advance through Fandango. There’s a convenience charge of $1.25 per ticket, which annoys the heck out of me. But, if it’s opening weekend for a show, it’s worth it to avoid the lines and not chance the show selling out. And hey, you can always stash candy in your bag and save money there. C’mon, you know you do that. Everyone does.

Flipboard: I love reading, pop culture, news, magazines, current events and super cool blogs. Flipboard scours the interwebs for the content that aligns with your interests and brings them to you in one beautiful conglomerate of virtual magazines. Flipboard keeps me from flipping out when I might be bored… like waiting in a doctor’s office.

Scanner 5-0: I am your nosey neighbor. I love knowing what is going on in the world around me at all times. When it comes to absolutely anything and everything, knowledge is power, people. This app lets you listen to police and law enforcement communications anywhere. Last year, after the Boston marathon bombing I listened intently to scanner traffic from the law enforcement entities there. When severe weather looms, I filter the scanner down to the “Caprock intertie” which links you up with trained weather spotters in the area who are reporting via ham radio to the National Weather Service. There are plenty of links to listen to local law enforcement on the internet, but we’re not allowed to stream on our work computers because of bandwidth limitations, so this lets me stay in the know when I need to and be productive at the same time.

Any.do: This is a “to-do” list app that lets you create lists, assign due-dates and schedule your life. It sends you alerts to remind you of what you need to do and what you still haven’t done. And if you’re an expert procrastinator like me, you can snooze tasks.

Sleep Cycle: Tell the app when you want to wake up and it decides when you’re in the optimum cycle of sleep to be woken up. Set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. and it might wake you up at 5:43. I combine this with my fit bit for optimum sleep monitoring. I am someone who believes in consistent sleep schedules. I go to sleep at roughly the same time every night and wake up at roughly the same time every morning–even weekends. My sleep times rarely vary more than an hour from one day to the next. I always get in bed 8 hours before I have to get up. I have been committed to that routine for as long as I can remember. But even so, I still sometimes wake up feeling groggy and drugged–even after a full eight hours. But was my 8 hours truly restful? My Fitbit helps me track that and Sleep Cycle wakes me up when it’s optimum for me. I get so excited when I check Fitbit and discover I was only awake for eight minutes out of the 7 hours and 32 minutes I was asleep. It’s a definite victory for a mom!

My friend tells me I need a password keeper app because I’m constantly locking myself out of various accounts and websites, so that’s next on my list. I’m currently researching which one is the best. I’d love to hear what apps you use to keep your life on track.

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