From a gamified way to form good habits, to an ambient music generator from the mind of Brian Eno, our tech expert rounds up the best apps to revitalise your homeworking life.
Whether you’re working from home for the first time or feeling the strain from a Covid-19-enforced stint, your smartphone can help. Below, technology journalist Craig Grannell has selected eight apps to boost your health and happiness while reducing cognitive load and stress. The result? A revitalised home working life from the palm of your hand.
1. Streaks Workout
$3.99/£3.99; iOS; streaksworkout.app
When working from home, physical exertion can plummet as you convince yourself you don’t possibly have time to leave the house. Streaks Workout helps tear you from your desk to partake in short, effective bouts of exercise that make no assumptions about fitness levels, ability and circumstances. Workouts can be customised, the app is simple to use, and stats gradually build to keep you motivated. On Android? Try 321FIT or Home Workout.
Free (with in-app purchases); Android/iOS; habitica.com
Forming good habits is vital when working from home – and that doesn’t just mean with your job, but also looking after yourself. If you find it tough to infuse new positive routines into your working day, gamify the process with Habitica, which transforms successes into power-ups your on-screen avatar can use to battle foes. Rope in friends to challenge each other and take on miniature quests together. Fancy something more conventional? Try Streaks, HabitMinder or Productive.
3. Bloom: 10 Worlds
$7.99/£7.99; Android/iOS; generativemusic.com
Brian Eno is well known for pioneering work in ambient music. Bloom is a collaboration with Peter Chilvers that marries composition and art, working as both a meditative/relaxation aid and also a means to block out hubbub. Each ‘world’ is a unique scene where you tap your display to trigger sounds and patterns. Melodies you create repeat yet subtly evolve, endlessly. It’s engaging when it needs to be, but doesn’t distract when you need to focus.
Free (with in-app purchases); iOS; 1blocker.com
Almost every knowledge-working job will find you regularly heading to the internet, and the amount of cruft on websites – adverts, trackers, comments – can be a source of stress, along with wasting your bandwidth and time. 1Blocker is a system designed to tame sites on all Apple devices. Switches let you instantly and globally block adverts, widgets and other annoyances. Meanwhile, there’s also quick, efficient white-listing, for well-behaved favourite sites you want to support by not blocking their ads.
5. Smiling Mind
Free; Android/iOS; smilingmind.com.au
Mindfulness apps too often help improve your wellbeing while helping themselves to your wallet. Not Smiling Mind, which is a free app designed to help you reduce stress and become more focused. A mood tracker lets you trace how you feel over time, and varied programmes help you get to grips with mindfulness, deal with work challenges, be aware of technology overuse, and find time to meditate.
Free; Android/iOS; getpocket.com
During the working day, you might risk getting sucked into news, bouncing between articles; or you might amass open tabs full of content you mean to read. This can cause stress and add load to your devices, slowing you down. Pocket is a repository you send web pages and videos to, so you can focus on them later in the app’s stripped back, content-first interface. It’ll even read articles to you if you wish.
Free (with in-app purchases); Android/iOS; portal.app
Apps like Noisli, White Noise and White Noise+ provide user-friendly interfaces to play custom sounds that help you relax or focus. Portal takes things further, with over 40 immersive portals that combine video loops and soothing 3D soundscapes. The lush combination of sound and vision transports you everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to Pacific Ocean retreats – ideal when holed up in a home office and needing to escape for a few precious moments.
8. Drink Water Reminder
Free or $1.99/£1.79; Android; ascendik.com
In an office, the constant presence of water coolers or people offering to get you a coffee ensure you keep on top of your hydration levels. At home, it’s easy to forget – so let an app remind you. The functionally named Drink Water Reminder keeps tabs on your daily intake and nudges you at regular intervals if you forget to drink. A one-off, in-app purchase adds widgets and removes the adverts. On an iPhone? Try Thirstic instead.