Pandemic productivity–and peace of mind

Okay, so there are a million articles and listicles out there already about how to stay productive during the pandemic. It’s all old and boring already.

But I find myself recommending these apps to friends over and over, and I realize it’s not just about staying productive at this crazy, unpredictable time. It’s about tools that work, that keep us sane, that make our lives easier.

And these are the apps that work for me.

Meditation: Headspace

Back when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, my doctor said I could try meditation. I had tried meditation before, but only through yoga, mostly Yin yoga. I had never really tried it by itself. I found some articles recommending different meditation apps. I tried a few free ones, like Smiling Mind, but nothing quite stuck until I found Headspace.

Headspace is a free app, but there’s an option for a paid subscription. There isn’t a lot of free content, but the available ones have been sufficient for my needs. You can choose what you need: Meditate, Sleep, Move, or Focus. I use the guided sleep meditations, and they’ve been really helpful for falling asleep. The free mindful movement video is 29 minutes long, and it looks easy, but it’s surprisingly challenging and I find myself sweaty at the end of it. I haven’t really explored Meditate or Focus, but sometimes they’ll have featured content that you can access for free.

Website | Google Play Store

Audio recording: Otter

Phone laptop notebook pen coffee
Photo by Abhilash Sahoo from Pexels

If you work in any type of communications job, you’ll know what an exhausting, tedious chore it can be to transcribe a video, an interview, a meeting. It can be even more challenging if your recording has many people, different accents and different languages. This is why I am eternally grateful to my friend Marco for recommending Otter.

Otter can record audio and transcribe in real-time. It’s not perfect, but it sure beats transcribing everything word for word! It’s so helpful when I need quotes for articles,. A free account allows you 40 minutes of nonstop recording/transcription, for a total of 600 minutes a month. So if your meeting is an hour long, just find an appropriate moment to stop the recording before it hits 40 minutes, then start a new recording.

You can download the transcripts and the audio files from the web app, or export them to a cloud storage service via the mobile app. I usually have a meeting or a video playing off my laptop, then I have my phone right next to it, recording and transcribing. You can actually record and transcribe through the web app as well, but I haven’t really tried it.

Website | Google Play Store

Finance: Gcash

This app is such a lifesaver. You can send money to pretty much any bank in the Philippines. You can cash in from a lot of banks too, and pay a lot of bills. A lot of online sellers accept payments through Gcash. A lot of stores accept Gcash payments too; the cashier will usually have you scan a QR code so you can make your payment. Most of the transactions are free until November 1, 2020.

Website | Google Play Store

Delivery: Grab

It is almost embarrassing how much I have used Grab during this lockdown. I have used it for deliveries of clothes and documents, care packages and food, laundry soap and malunggay tea. I’ve used it to order food from Pasig and Marikina and Cubao. I’ve used it to buy stuff from S&R. When my mom has a craving for specific food, my first instinct is to check if I can order it through GrabFood.

Website | Google Play Store

Fitness: Mi Fit

I’ve been using a Mi Band for maybe three or four years now. I think I started out with a Mi Band 3, and now I’m on a Mi Band 4. It’s one of the cheaper fitness bands on the market, and I suppose other brands have a lot more functionality. Fitness-wise, I only really need this to count my steps and to track my sleep. Really, its most practical purpose for me is that I can get alerts from my phone, like messages, calls and alarms. I get reminders to take my meds, and reminders when I’ve been sitting too long.

A cute and trivial plus: I can design my own watch face!

Website | Google Play Store

What apps are saving your sanity these days?


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