Apps for Downtime and Productivity: Make Your Smartphone Smarter

This is a guest post by Lauren Schmidt. Lauren loves to blog, play golf and sing in the rain.

Woman on smartphoneFor several years I stuck with my itty-bitty phone whose functions were limited to making calls, sending texts and waking me up in the morning. Why would I want to spend a few hard-earned Benjamins on a smartphone? Well, I drunk the Kool-aid and now I’m never more than a few feet away from my phone. Here are some apps that get used on a daily, or near-daily, basis:

Flipboard

Flipboard helps me keep tabs on social media; it integrates my Facebook and Twitter streams with the RSS feeds of my favorite blogs and news sources. Instead of looking at the boring interface of Google reader, I just open Flipboard and see pics and headlines of the latest posts, tweets and status updates in a magazine. Just tap the picture to read the rest of the post and share it with others. Set up is really easy and, best of all, it’s a free app.

Instapaper

During the week, I never have enough time to read even a fraction of what catches my eye so I use Instapaper to save and read the article later. Instapaper lets me save articles so I don’t spend precious minutes searching for them later. The one-time $4.99 cost is comparable to what I’d spend on just one issue of my favorite magazine. Besides archiving up to 500 articles, I can share them with others via email, Twitter and Tumblr through the app.

Break

To relieve the day’s stresses, sit down and open up funny pics on Break.com’s app to get a few good laughs. The ever-increasing collection of pics are cracking me up have created such an addiction, I have to limit myself to 15 minutes a day! The app is available for iOS, Android and tablet devices and best of all, it’s free!

Evernote

My organization management tool since my husband first introduced it to me as a desktop application a few years ago. Evernote is a virtual file cabinet that can be installed, and synced, on all of your digital devices for easy access to your documents no matter where you are. I keep notebooks, as the files are called, for each member of my family, my business, recipes, my never ending to-do list and projects. I use the basic service which is free, but the premium service allows you to store a larger amount of data and have changes of documents saved.

Mint

Whether you’re trying to dig out of debt or just want to stick to your budget, the folks at Mint have you covered with this handy app that integrates your bank accounts so you can keep better tabs on your money. I like the user interface — it lets me track my spending with a few taps. Say goodbye to racking up $30 overdraft fees for a $3 coffee!

Shop Savvy

You know that feeling you get when you see the same dress you bought last week at a different store, but for $30 less? That may very well be a thing of the past if you employ Shop Savvy on a regular basis. You simply input the item that you’re planning to purchase and it will compare both brick and mortar the virtual shops to find the lowest price. And if that wasn’t good enough, shopsavvy.com states it will give you the closest location so you can decide if the cheapest price is worth it, even if it requires a half-hour drive or let you purchase the item via the app if you’re making an online purchase.

OverTo You

Do you use any of the apps we detailed here? Or do you have suggestions for other apps that should have made the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts – please do share them in the comments and tell us what you think.

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