Work Smarter//

The 14 Most Life-Changing Apps of 2018

Meet the tools that will make you happier, calmer, and more successful.

TShum/Getty Images
TShum/Getty Images

The best apps — the really indispensable ones — make our lives more productive and less stressed, working hard behind the scenes so we can devote our energy to the human connections that make us truly happy.

As we wind down the year and look ahead, we asked the Thrive Global community to share the apps that changed their lives this year. We learned that whether you need help managing your time, want to step it up in the meditation space, or even feel less lonely, there’s an app for that. Which ones will you try in 2019?

Use Trello to keep track of your life

Trello is the app that has been life-changing for me this year. I still use a physical planner, but Trello has helped me be more productive — from managing my online business, planning my small wedding, to keeping my goals in mind. I can keep up with what client content is due when, collaborate on a couple’s bucket list with my husband, store lists of courses I want to take, and books I still want to read, along with the things I have already accomplished this year.”

—Lori Hil, content marketing writer, Rockwell, NC

Let Insight Timer help you carve out time for meditation, find community, and discover Tibetan bells

Insight Timer has been a godsend. It's helped me integrate meditation as a new practice into my morning routine. I've gone from novice to regular meditation queen and have noticed how much better my day is when I use it. I used to jump out of bed, check emails and step right into stress. But now, I set the tone for my day by giving myself the space to start out how I mean to go on (sometimes just 10 minutes). I'm calmer, less stressed and manage crises with a more level head, instead of a hot-head approach. It is, by far, the best thing I've done for my health and my business.”

—Janelle Mason, business success coach, London, U.K.

“I have been meditating for over 650 consecutive days. One of the tools that has helped me maintain my practice has been a free app called Insight Timer. This app has made me feel part of a community. At any given time it tells you how many people are meditating with you and where they are. There are some great stats and all the meditations have user ratings or there is the option to just used the timer.  I also like the many different groups such as Healing from Cancer or Women Meditate Worldwide, and my favourite, Poetry and Meditation.”

—Nina Baksh, Founder of a Health Services company, Campbell River, BC, Canada

“Insight Timer is a guided meditation app. I’d like to highlight an additional feature: Tibetan bells that can be set for a designated period of time. I have used these to mark the beginning and end of writing, incorporate them into the classes I teach and my research. The bell recordings are multipurpose, convenient, and high-quality. They’re also a gentle and pleasant way to start and end tasks such as playing, sweeping, vacuuming, tidying, etc.”

—Adrienne Ione, integrative health practitioner, Tacoma, WA

Eliminate the grocery run with Peapod

“My grocery store app has changed my life and helped me and my child stay healthy! We use Giant grocery stores (in the Mid-Atlantic US), and their app is called Peapod. I can order pantry staples, fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, personal and cleaning supplies, and anything else we can get at the grocery store through the app. Rather than taking time away from my child to drive to the grocery store, peruse the aisles, stand in line at the register and drive back home, I’m able to finish my weekly grocery shopping in five minutes. The groceries are delivered right to my home during the two-hour delivery window I choose. This gives me more time for family, friends, work, exercise, and everything else. I still go to our corner market to pick up items here and there (shop local!), and the local farm stand for fresh fruits and veggies, as well. But thanks to my grocery app, I can do those things on my time, while still supporting local and regional grocers and farmers. I'd much rather focus my time on preparing the food than shopping for it!”

—Lauren Brownstein, philanthropy consultant and harried solo-mom, Washington, DC

Let Hootsuite run your social media scheduling

“I started using Hootsuite this year to manage and schedule my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts. The ‘Publisher-Planner’ is amazingly easy to use. I’m getting back tons of time from not having to create content on the fly and I’m not stressed about posting when my audience is engaging in social media. I also picked up Acuity Scheduling a few months ago. I don’t have to coordinate schedules anymore for my coaching clients and prospects. They book a call directly from my Instagram account or my website, and I can block time and set limits based on the call type.”

—Kristi Freeman, women’s social media coach, Cincinnati, OH

Use Achievement to get paid for doing healthy activities

“I'm a huge fan of Achievement, which connects to apps like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, Runkeeper and others, and translates your healthy activities into points. For every 10,000 points you earn, you receive $10 cash, which has definitely motivated me to move more throughout the day!”

—Kaitlin Bitting, health and wellness coach, Philadelphia, PA

Feed your mind with Scribd

I use Scribd every day. I love it because I can enjoy an unlimited number of books, audiobooks, magazines, and more for a monthly membership fee. Sometimes, I like listening to business/career audiobooks, while on other days, I listen to self-development audiobooks. I also enjoy reading the magazines on the platform. They feature authors like Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington and more. I was actually listening to one of Arianna's books, On Becoming Fearless…In Love, Work, and Life, last night.”

—Nash Cajee, digital marketer and branding strategist, British Columbia, CA

Get in shape for a big run with 26.2 Marathon Trainer

“I love the 26.2 app! I tend to be someone who goes all-in and bites off more than I can chew, but it helped me bring a sensible approach to marathon training. It has daily motivational quotes, prompts you to ‘dust off your shoes’ when life happens, and tells you to get back out there. It also tells you when to run/walk so you don’t have to keep checking your phone. Going from being a 5K runner to a marathoner in fall 2019 is a huge goal of mine, but thanks to this app, I feel ready!”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist, Ontario, Canada

Bring your trainer wherever you go with Aaptiv

Aaptiv is a workout app that’s changed my life. It's like having your own personal trainer, without the high price. Once you sign up, you get hundreds of workouts for running, strength training, yoga and more. You can also filter them by length, level and trainer. Once you hit ‘Start,’ the trainer guides you through it. Viola, workout completed!”

—Jean Ginzburg, digital marketing expert, Denver, CO

Learn how to grow your own produce with From Seed to Spoon

From Seed to Spoon is an app that teaches you how to grow your own produce and live a healthy lifestyle, from eating better, to figuring out what plants to grow in order to cure a migraine, sleep deprivation, and more. The founders have an amazing story too. They taught themselves how to grow food because they couldn't afford expensive options. These amazing people are also a power couple: she’s an online nursing teacher and he’s a developer.”

—Erika Lucas, founder, Oklahoma City, OK

Expand your consciousness with Calm

“The Calm app has helped take my meditation from ‘ho hum’ to ‘Om.’ I’m grateful that I can experience a greater sense of peace, calm, and joy everyday! It not only makes my life better, but also helps expand the consciousness of the world.”

—Blaze (Barbara) Lazarony, business strategist and life coach, Huron, OH

Let the podcast app entertain and enlighten you

“Podcasts are such a major part of my phone use that I hardly think of them as an app — they’ve become the major feature. As disenchanted as I am with this addictive little devil, the smartphone is a treasure trove of familiar, friendly voices that teach, inform, entertain and soothe with a good bedtime story. Some of my favorites are: Radiolab, Israel Story, Revisionist History and The Moth...I could go on forever. If I wake up at night, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me calms me back into sleep within minutes (even though I’m not sure why). It’s a trick I’ve shared with several insomniacs – it just works! Thanks, host Peter Sagal.”

—Ayala Laufer-Cahana, M.D., pediatrician and entrepreneur, Greater Philadelphia, PA

Save hours of frustration with 1Password

1Password has changed my life. I can share access with my husband, and it’s saved me countless hours of frustration and wasted time hunting for an old password.”

—Suzanne Miller Farrell, textile designer, St. Louis, MO

Make meaningful connections with Slowly

“The app that springs to my mind is Slowly. It lets you interact with people around the world via letter sharing. It can take a few hours or a few days for your letter to be delivered, depending on the distance between the two people, but the excitement of waiting for it to arrive makes the entire thing worth it. Today’s instant messages help convey information, but the emotions get lost in the process. However, using this app helped me make more friends through deep, meaningful conversations than I ever did when I just took someone’s number and started a conversation. I found that people show more compassion and honesty when writing on this platform. It’s an amazing app, especially for introverts who enjoy a meaningful conversation and want to cherish a beautiful relationship. I have gained amazing insights from people around the world through Slowly.”

—Parth Shekhar, content writer, India

Let Marco Polo add color to your life

"Marco Polo has become the app I never knew I needed. It brings my best girlfriends from all over the country together and lets me see their gorgeous faces throughout the day. Whether we’re swapping quick mom hacks, asking for recipe advice or sharing encouragement during ridiculous moments, I absolutely love how these short video messages add color and connection to my daily life."

—Crosby Noricks, founder, editorial director and lecturer, CA

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

    The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Stop Making Fun Of Dating Apps

    by Geoff Pilkington
    Thrive on Campus//

    Today I Disabled My Instagram Account. Here’s Why.

    by Emma Dowty
    Emilija Manevska/ Getty Images
    Well-Being//

    Simplify Technology with Limits

    by Leo Babauta

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.