9 Apps That Help Me Organize My Life

I’m going to tell you the secret to being organized. The whole secret. Are you ready?
It is a learned, developed skill. You have to practice it. You do not emerge from the womb completely organized. It is something you become. You have to figure out what works for you to keep you on track. It’s a process.

I use apps for a lot of organization/productivity. I also have two notebooks and obsessively put things into my Google calendar. What needs an app and what needs to be down on paper are different things for different people. This list of apps can help you get started, though.

And finally, all of these apps are free! I’m also only linking to the android store. Sorry, iphone users. You can handle searching.

Image of ClearFocus timer.
ClearFocus
Have you heard of the pomodoro technique? It’s pretty simple. You time how long you work and then take a short break, and repeat in cycles. It doesn’t sound revolutionary, but it really helped me plan my study time when I was in college. I like this app because it lets you name what task you’re working on, and then go back and see how much time you’re spending on each one. I don’t use it as much now that I’m out of school, but I can see it being useful if you have a job where you’re juggling multiple projects.

Image of the Sleep Debt Tracker dashboard.
Sleep Debt Tracker
This isn’t going to give you fitbit levels of sleep tracking, but it does help me make sure that I’m laying in bed without staring at a screen for a minimum amount of time. I find the bedtime reminders particularly helpful. I tend to ignore them if I set them myself.
I need my phone to be an authority figure. #millennial

Image of the Hydro Coach dashboard.
Hydro Coach
Hi, I’m April and I’m admitting to the internet that I am too dumb to remember to drink enough water. This app was EXTRA useful when I was working a job that didn’t let me keep water at my desk. Those exist. It’s rough for the chronically dehydrated.

Image of the Loop Habit Tracker dashboard.
Loop Habit Tracker
This app is so simple, but so useful. I’ve tried some of the fancier habit trackers and they just don’t do it for me. It’s just a checklist. You can set how often you want to do things, and are able to look at a plot of how you’re performing. I use this to keep track of what parts of my rotating skin routine I’ve done most recently.

OurHome
OurHome is definitely made for parents to schedule chores. I don’t have kids. I’m busy and have a busy partner. We set each chore to be worth an amount of points equal to the number of minutes it takes. So ten points of dishes is ten minutes of dishes. It eliminates wondering if you’re doing more housework, and also helps us keep track of when we last cleaned the bathroom.
Though, if you have to ask..clean it again.

Memo
Yeah, the regular memo app in your phone. I use it to keep track of how things fit when I’m shopping and to type up book quotes that I want to use later. I used to keep longer term lists in there, but it turns out I just ignore them.

Mint
I’ve been using Mint for something like seven years at this point. Keep track of your money.

I get daily texts to help me live intentionally & feel like a boss. -Shinetext app
Shine
The only referral link of the bunch. I think I get a sticker if a few people sign up? I love stickers.
Anyway, shine is a little text bot that sends you motivational messages at a set time every week day. I set them to send while I’m on the train for my morning commute. It’s helped me to be a little more reflective and ready to attack my day.

Sample texts from BGSDlist.
BGSDlist
Have you ever wanted Kelly Sue DeConnick to send you sporadic motivational texts? She has lowkey changed my life. I love her.

What are your favorite productivity apps?

Stuff I liked: June 2018

I almost have some exciting real life news, but I’m going to wait until next month to tell you all. I don’t want to jinx it.

I can tell you that my birthday fundraiser for the ACLU went really well! I raised $200 with an additional $10-30 in late donations. I need to hunt those down. That translates to A LOT of painted postcards. I wasn’t expecting that. He’s two that I’ve mailed out already:

Watercolor painting of Killmonger from Marvel's Black Panther movie. It says "IS THIS YOUR POSTCARD?"
Watercolor painting of a Siamese cat on a blue background.

Only, uh, 20 more to go.

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod Review
The Ordinary Granactive 2% Retinoid Emulsion Review
Birthday Fundraiser for the ACLU! (The fundraiser is over, obviously, but there’s some more art here!)
What Subscription Box Should I Try Next?
June 2018 Ipsy Bag — LAST IPSY BAG!
Beyond Intensive Ampoule Hyaluronic Acid

Podcasts

Reveal I’ve been going through Reveal’s back catalogue. They’re a treasure. They have a really good series on immigration, if you’re not quite sure what’s going on.
ZigZag Radiotopia got new summer shows! This one has women explaining blockchain. I’m two episodes in and it seems like a great podcast.
Ear Hustle Episode 17 – The Row Ear Hustle is on their summer break, so now is a great time to get caught up with them. They interview inmates on death row in this one. An important listen.

I clearly don’t know what fiction podcasts are any more. If you listen to a good one, let me know about it in the comments.

Books

Saga Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, and Fonografiks
Saga is so consistently good. If you’re looking for trans characters and discussions of abortion in your sci-fi/fantasy, this is the volume for you. And yes, I look for those things. I can only read about so many stoic middle aged men in spaceships, okay?

Video Games

That summer Steam sale got me. I bought something like 6 games, hated three of them, returned them, and bought two more. Steam has a nice return policy. “It wasn’t fun” is a valid return reason.

Right now I’m playing Fallout 4 and I love it. It got some bad reviews, so I had stayed away from it. I don’t trust anyone anymore. I’m having a great time with it.

What are you guys doing this summer?

Birthday Fundraiser for the ACLU!

Hey everyone! I mentioned at the beginning of the month that there would be an opportunity to get some watercolors. A few of you have had some really sweet comments about the paintings I’ve shared, so I wanted to show you a few more paintings and let you know about the fundraiser that I’m putting on for my local chapter of the ACLU.

The link for my Facebook fundraiser is here. It will be active until my birthday on the 21st. I’m sending everyone that donates at least $10 a handpainted watercolor postcard.

And now, what you’re really here for: More paintings.

2018-06-15
Sometimes I do fanart.

But mostly I’ve been practicing floral designs to help train myself to work quickly and decisively.
2018-05-07-3

2018-05-04

2018-04-16

I typically post new paintings over on my instagram. Feel free to give me a follow over there!

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod Review

I’m officially branching out into the “privileged white woman self help daydream” genre. There’s probably a shorter name for that, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I picked this book up because someone had abandoned it (and 19 others) during move in month at my apartment building. I’ll start any book. Whether or not I finish them is a different story.

Cover of Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

I did finish Paris Letters. I’m going to give it some shit here, but it was honestly cute. It was well-written and lovely. I was wholeheartedly invested when I thought this was fiction. Janice is likeable. The idea of quitting your corporate job and mysteriously making a living while sleeping with a hot butcher is likeable. I’m down with escapism. I wanted it to happen. Please read this book through that lens.

About three chapters in I realized that this was a memoir. I was supposed to be reading this under the guise of “oh, I can do that with my life.” She even gives her money-saving tips at the end.

So can I? Can I Paris Letters my life up?

Janice’s Goals (AKA The Plot)
– Save/make $100 a day to support herself and quit her job. Tasks are enumerated in The List in the back of the book.
– Quit said job when she hits $30k and move to Europe.
– Fall in love and be utterly content, freed from her corporate hell.

She ends up saving $60k remarkably easy, which is the only number about her finances that is ever given. This book pushes the vagueness pretty hard in attempts to be more relatable. I was bummed about that. I love a girl that hustles, and this book minimizes how much work changing her life like this would have taken.

Can I live Janice’s Life?
There are 100 money tips in the back of the book. The person that previously owned this book dog eared the page for reference. Maybe they had to get rid of the book because they were moving to Europe? I hope they’re doing well.

70+ of the tips are to stop buying things and to sell what you don’t need. I’m crushing this. I’m not making a net gain of $100 a day from it. Lame.

Most of the other tips are basic financial literacy things. She paid off her credit card debt. She started dabbling in the stock market. I honestly think the reason she couldn’t immediately quit her job is because she had always lived a life that didn’t require having a handle on her finances. That’s not a cute love story, though.

There are a few things that I found useful. While she was planning her escape, she took 20 minutes a day to clean up her apartment. I’ve started doing 10 minutes a day. Not because I am actually planning to run off to Europe and find a hot butcher. My apartment just has too many things for the amount of space it is and needs some love after I spent five months working full time and taking classes.

She also journals, which I agree is immensely helpful in sorting out the thoughts in your head.

And then there are two things that are uncomfortable goals for me, but I’m going to make them. She puts a donate button up on her blog and sells some art. I’ll accept those two challenges. (There’s a Ko-Fi link in the sidebar if you’d like me to move to Paris.)

After I learn to properly paint and open an Etsy shop, I will come back and point out that it will take me over a decade to save the money that she did to move. This isn’t looking like a great plan.

Instead of faulting Janice for my inability to emulate her, I am going to point out that she has read Eat, Pray, Love and The Secret. Maybe my problem is that I just haven’t read enough of the privileged white woman self help books?

Which one should I try next? How many until I’m properly enlightened and free? Will the number of books that I’ve read directly correlate to how many years it takes for my Bachelor’s degree to start paying off? Stay tuned.

 

May 2018

May went by fast. The new job takes up a lot of my time, but it’s been going well.

I felt like I was neglecting my blog a little after last month, when I had some time off. Now I’ve gotten into a good groove with content creation on the weekends. Grumpy Skin is here to stay!

I can’t kick my watercolor habit, either.
Watercolor painting of flowers.
(If you like my watercolors, there will be an opportunity for you to get a hand-painted postcard soon! If you don’t like them, there’s still an opportunity. Just, you know, you wont care.)

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution + 5% EGCG Review
May 2018 Ipsy Bag
Aviary Attorney Review
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Review

Cat @ Welcome to my Messy World tagged me in the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. I dug through the memo app on my phone to see if I had saved any quotes recently and all I’ve got for you is a quote from Reveal (podcast): “You can get in more trouble for killing wildlife than you can for killing a worker”. I’m fun at parties.

I’ve also gotten a Bloglovin’ account. Give me a follow if you’re over there!
I signed up for Ko-Fi as well. There’s a donation button over on the right hand side of the blog if you’d like to fund a weird face mask.

Podcasts

20180513_183618-01.jpeg
I saw Roman Mars live for the THIRD TIME. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Criminal was there and they’re so lovely live. And Benjamen Walker! And Kurt Kohlstedt too! It was a great time.

It’s fitting that all of my favorite podcast listens this month are Radiotopia.

Liz Phair – Divorce Song by Song Exploder
Marking the start of my Liz Phair obsession.

Immobile Homes (Episode 307) by 99% Invisible
We need to talk about housing.

King’s Candy: A New Orleans Prison Kitchen Vision (Episode 29) by The Kitchen Sisters
Making candy in prison. Of course, there’s more going on in this story than that.

Books

Black Bolt Vol. 1 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward
I will read absolutely anything that Christian Ward does the art for. Look at this:

Black Bolt, his very large dog, and a child stand in front of a galaxy landscape. Text reads
Image from http://www.multiversitycomics.com/podcasts/comics-syllabus-028-on-black-bolt-by-saladin-ahmed-and-christian-ward-marvel-pull-call/

The story was also spot on, so it looks like I’ll read anything that Saladin Ahmed does now.

Paper Girls Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson
The time travel is getting serious. Is it a spoiler that there is time travel? I started this series thinking that it was a cute story about girls on a paper route and THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS STORY IS.

Giant Days Vol 4. by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin
Volumes 2 and 3 didn’t live up to the glory of the first for me. I’m glad I stuck with the series, because volume 4 is gold.
Image of Esther (v goth) hugging Susan and asking

Fruits Basket Vol 3. by Natsuki Takaya
I stopped reading Furuba before the translations made their way over to the US, so I’ve been going back and finishing it. Volume 3 was solid. I was surprised that it’s holding up so well. This means my middle school manga obsession is back in full swing. Rec me some stuff?

I’d ask a more general open ended question here for ~the engagement~, but really, I want manga recommendations.

April 2018

I did things and liked stuff this month!
The weather is warming up, I’ve been watercoloring (below), and I’m starting a new job.Watercolor painting of red flowers.

Spring is looking up.

ICYMI/Blog stuff

Okay, I’m finally done with The Ordinary
Sand & Sky Brilliant Skin Pink Clay Mask
Don’t Cover Yourself in Glitter and Run Into the Ocean
BLAQ Meteor Shower
April 2018 Ipsy Bag
DearPacker Gold Collagen Eye Mask
Earth Day Reflections

I made a Grumpy Skin twitter! Blogging twitter is actually the nicest twitter. I’m used to comics and science, which is pretty aggressive and not always woman-friendly. Give me a follow and tweet me weird skin stuff!

Awards: Teresa nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award and Mel nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! I’m still not a fan of the question chains, but I do appreciate it.

I also changed my theme to be a little more minimalist. Let me know what you think!

Podcasts

Toxic tech in America by Reveal
The people manufacturing your electronics are dying.

Disposable workers in Asia by Reveal
Samsung in particular has had to compensate people and families for injury and death, but they’re far from the only one.

Lessons from Las Vegas (Episode 302) by 99% Invisible
Denise Scott Brown is fantastic. And some people don’t think Las Vegas is meticulously and purposefully designed?

Tesla and Beyond: Hidden Problems of Silicon Valley by Reveal

Cold Case (Episode 88) by Criminal
Literally a superhero origin story. CASUALLY CRACKING COLD CASES.

Thick Glass by Ear Hustle
Parenting in prison. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Books

GUYS I READ BOOKS THIS MONTH. It’s amazing what quitting your job can give you the time to do.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 5 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Kevin Wada
Sakhmet from The Wicked + The Divine. Basically Rihanna with some cat aesthetics.
I had a few people ask me what I was reading when I was carrying this around, and it’s a hard one to casually explain. I’m pretty sure Rihanna ate some people in this one. Gods are reincarnated as pop stars and everything is so extra.

The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry is a national treasure. This book is a series of shorts of a girl growing up in the 70s. A lot of the books I read as a kid took place in this same time period, so I had some bookworm nostalgia while reading this.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
A book about the Holocaust that was published the year I was born should not feel timely, but here we are in this hellscape of a year.

Earth Day Reflections

Image of a HUGE blue lobster molt with my hand for scale.
This is a lobster molt, not a dead (or very chill) lobster.

This Earth Day had me feeling a little guilty. I volunteered for an aquarium all throughout college. Nothing makes you feel like you’re protecting the ocean like talking to a hundred people on a Friday about ocean acidification, you know?

I haven’t been volunteering for a little over a year. Earth Day was the 22nd. It seems like a good time to reflect on what I’m doing to help protect the planet, and what I could be doing better.

Image of a hand feeding a truly large and majestic toad some worms.
I’m feeding my favorite toad here. Hand feeding isn’t always the way to go, but she was old & blind and needed the help.

Things I’m Currently Doing

– Take public transit 90% of the time.
27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US are from transportation. Public transit options in the US are pretty atrocious. If it’s not feasible for you to stop driving you could also try to shop more locally to cut down on transportation on that end.

– Carry a reusable water bottle and don’t drink bottled water.
Bottled water is dumb. It’s expensive. It’s wasteful. So is soda. You can’t promise me that a bird wont eat your bottle cap and starve to death because its stomach is full of plastic.

– Use reusable menstruation products.
If cups and reusable pads aren’t an option, you can buy tampons that don’t have applicators. You don’t need a plastic or cardboard tube.

– Use stainless steel straws when I can.
There are very few instances that you NEED a straw. I keep these (not an affiliate link) in my bag for restaurants for when ice is out of control. You can read more about how awful straws are here.

– I eat meat like..once a week.
It’s the inverse of a Meatless Monday. Food is complicated (and still produced with actual slave labor) so blindly following a diet without looking into the supply chain isn’t enough. Beef is pretty inefficiently produced, though.

– Vote for people that support environmental policies.
We need more oversight and regulation to solve these problems. It’s nice that I can know that I didn’t personally choke a sea turtle, but the sea turtles are still being choked.

Image of a cuttlefish eating a crab that is as large as its face.
I didn’t work with the cuttlefish. They’re just cool af.

Things To Integrate Before Next Earth Day

– Stop buying paper copies of books that I haven’t read before.
I feel old. I can remember when we were more fussed about the paper clogging our landfills than we were the plastic in the ocean. But really, there’s no reason for me to go out and buy books that I might not ever want to reread. I have an e-reader and can walk to the library.

– Clothing shop entirely second-hand or non-synthetic.
The issue of synthetic fibers isn’t one that people talk about as often because it’s not an easy problem to solve. I know that I can’t personally afford to throw out all of my clothing and wear exclusively natural materials. I’m on the email list for a Cora Ball if those ever enter production (EDIT: They have! The day I posted this. I’ve ordered one). And now that my wardrobe is in a good place, am planning to thrift or buy natural fibers for anything new. Thrifting synthetic materials isn’t a fix, but it at least prevents a new polyester shirt from entering the cycle.

– Eliminate more microplastics.
Microplastics are everywhere in cosmetics. Any new purchases I make will be free of these 67 ingredients.

– Stop buying sheet masks and other single use beauty items.
Guys, we need to cut our sheet mask habit. I have a ton laying around that I will still review and use, but they’re wasteful and expensive.

Tell me something that you do (or are going to try) to help the planet in the comments!