The holidays are over, and it’s the start of a new year. For many, this means starting the year right with a few resolutions. For some, the period after holiday season could be a time of post-holiday blues. Are you an avid smartphone user? Here are a few apps that can help you manage.
The post-holiday blues are often considered to be post-holiday “fatigue” because of all the stress and tiredness we experience during the holiday rush. For many, the holidays were about getting ready with the festive season, which includes decorating one’s home or workplace, buying presents for loved ones, traveling for family reunions, or even going on vacation (perhaps to somewhere warmer). The holiday spirit is great, although sometimes people feel the pressure of having to meet expectations that come with the season.
For some, it means quiet contemplation, especially those who are into a deeper understanding of the meaning behind Christmas, Hannukkah, Eid, New Year’s Eve or whichever relevant holiday that comes with the year end. The coming of January means getting back to work in full-force after the usual lull at work during the year-end festivities. But this can sometimes mean a difficult re-start, especially if you’ve slowed down a bit to relax for the holidays. The extreme weather conditions — the polar vortex in the northern hemisphere and the heat waves in the southern hemisphere — only make it worse!
Productivity experts and life coaches give us a few recommendations on how to address the post holiday blues, and these include taking stock of our finances, re-organizing (or actually organizing) our workflow, improving our health, and keeping in touch with friends and loved ones even after the holidays.
Here are a few apps and trick to help fight the blues.
The holidays are usually when people go on spending binges. You might want to impress your friends and colleagues with great presents. Or, you probably upgraded your gadgets — home entertainment systems, laptops, smartphones, tablets or even your car — during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and various gadget sales during the season. Or, you may have spent some money on decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or the New Year’s Eve.
The post-holiday season is usually the time for taking stock of our finances and making sure we will not start the new year in the red. Useful apps include Mint.com, which interfaces with your bank accounts for easy planning, management and bills payment. You can also try Expensify, which automatically scans your receipts and generates expense reports so you can keep track of your spending. If saving money is part of your new year’s resolutions, SmartyPig lets you set up goals, and will automatically set aside pre-defined amounts from your bank account, which correspond to your goals. Aptly named after the piggy bank, the app even gives users rewards for reaching goals.
Health and fitness
Yet another area for concern after the holidays is our health. With all the parties, binge eating, drinking and stress during the holidays, we’re bound to gain a few pounds. We can address this through a mix of discipline in eating, exercise and a few changes in habits.
LG’s Fitness Tracker has been previewed at CES, although we may have to wait a few months more until the Korean company formally launches the product, which should work with the LG Fitness app. You can also try the Nike+ fitness app. It does not require any additional accessory, although the fact that Nike has not made an Android app for its latest Nike+ FuelBand SE might be disappointing to fitness buffs.
Elsewhere, you can try Pocket Yoga, which is basically a mobile instructor for Yoga poses. MyFitnessPal‘s calorie counter has a database of about 1.5 million food items, which helps you keep track of the calories you consume day to day. Of course, with the food you’ve probably eaten through the holidays, you would probably want to trim down by visiting the gym. You won’t be able to escape, with GymPact. The app is run by a community of gym rats who ensure (or even enforce) attendance by having non-compliant users pay actual dollars for missing their workout schedules. Users who go to the gym faithfully earn from the pool of funds.
If you slacked off on work during the holidays, then this is the time to shape up. Productivity experts say it’s okay to step back and relax a bit so you can look forward to what lies ahead for the whole year. But we still need to recognize that the holidays may have put our work into disarray. Here are a few apps that can help keep things organized.
Any.DO is a great task manager app, and synchronizes across Android, iOS and web app. It also plays well with Cal, the partner app built by the same developers. Any.DO helps you plan your day with a two-minute outline each morning, during which you can prioritize tasks. The app also has geo-location reminders, which are pretty useful when you need to reminders for tasks when you reach a certain place.
Asana is a project tracking app famously known for being used by the Twitter team internally. The app primarily runs on the web, but iOS and Android versions come in handy for keeping your project tasks accessible on your smartphone or tablet. Third-party alternatives also exist, such as Hill88 for iOS and MyAsana for Android, which promise a better native app experience, as opposed to the official app, which is actually an HTML5 implementation.
If you’d like to stick with Google’s own applications, you can go for Google Keep, which syncs sticky notes, to-do items and clips across Android and web. There are also alternatives for use with Google’s own Task system (built into Gmail), such as Tasks Free and GTasks.
Planning for the next party?
We often get to meet our distant relatives and friends once in a while, and the holidays are usually the time when folks drive or fly for get-togethers that are otherwise difficult to coordinate in the middle of the year. Fortunately, messaging applications help keep us in touch through the cities and continents. We do have our fair share of instant messaging, VoIP and video-conferencing applications. Among my personal favorites are Facebook Messenger (because of the ubiquity of Facebook friends), Viber (because of speed) and Telegram (for privacy), but any mobile user would probably be using a combination of these already. The choice is up to you and what your friends are already using.
Planning your next vacation or get-together can also help reduce the post-holiday blues. This comes with varied difficulty, of course, depending on whether you plan to travel across cities, countries or entire continents. Either way, TripIt’s Travel Organizer can help you plan and execute your trip. You can also find good deals on airline, cruise and hotel reservations via Kayak and Hipmunk or Virgin Holidays‘ augmented reality brochure app. Traveling on the cheap? You can check out short-term rents at AirBnb or last-minute booking service HotelQuickly. If you’re planning your summer cruise or vacation months ahead, then Of course, you can check out TripAdvisor for establishment reviews.
It’s yet another year of gadget launches, apps and technologies. What does 2014 have in store for us?