iPhone Is My Grad School Personal Assistant

I now have an iPhone. I crossed to the dark side. I will admit, I was worried that I would turn into one of those super plugged-in iPhone users I see around (or see excessively posting on Facebook, no offense), but after a few days of setting up apps, I am loving it. And I feel less plugged-in because I’m doing more work and less play on my laptop. The iPhone has basically become my personal assistant for grad school and I’m getting optimistic for a productive school year to come. Plus, I know the geographic coordinates of my kitchen counter as I type this.* Yes, I have silly things like Words with Friends (so I can play my mom and always lose) and a dog whistle (which Rory hates), but I also found many apps that are streamlining the excessive post-its I use. If the iPhone organizes for me, maybe I’ll spend less time organizing my lists. Or maybe I’ll just spend that time playing. Anyway, here’s what my PA is doing:

Do-It Tomorrow: I put my weekly agenda, to-dos divided by day, on a whiteboard in my office and an old school Daytimer. I asked for one for my 18th birthday, stipulating that I wanted a nice one that I could use through my PhD. Yes, I was a nerd. But it is pretty purple leather and I am attached. The great thing about this app, though, is that it gives me just two days at a time (today and tomorrow) and automatically moves things I don’t cross off to the next day. It’s good for focusing on what is immediately at hand and for the shuffling that usually happens in the afternoon when I realize I’m already behind.

Paperless Lite: I find listmaking soothing. I have little slips of paper everywhere, and now they’re in my pocket. So far, I’m using this for my reading log, grocery list, and writing to-do list. I suspect that as my tasks multiply when school starts I’ll be using it even more. It includes plenty of options for customizing but also is simple enough that it feels uncluttered.

Look, I haz Instagram

Look, I haz Instagram

Magnificat: I am a practicing Catholic and try to do some scripture reading and reflection daily. In my life, this can get tricky with too many bookmarks in devotionals or books to tote between my house and my parents’ or wherever I’m traveling. This app is free + a $1.99/month subscription and includes Mass readings, prayers, and reflections from clergy, saints, and historical figures each day. No bookmarks needed. Hello, streamline. I don’t need a separate bookmark for morning prayer and evening prayer. My only complaint is that there’s no back button so if I need to switch from the reading to the reflection I have to close and reopen the app to access the menu. Odd.

Poetry Daily: I love poetry. I can’t really talk about it articulately, but I love it. This gives me new poems each day. Enough said.

The Week: My pops works in news radio and he uses The Week to stay up on things in a reasonably balanced manner. I am an academic who doesn’t like to feel totally clueless (I’ll settle for mostly), so samesies.

My Fitness Pal: You know that line from Say Anything “there’s no food in your food”? I eat well for one-two meals a day and then I just eat random stuff. I got this app to keep better tabs on my eating and drinking consumption and an eye on my iron intake. Initially it told me to only eat 1240 calories a day, which was just mean. I made it allow me more and since then we’ve been friends. It has a huge database of exercises, prepared foods, and ingredients, and I can input my own calorie counts or recipes so that over time it will adapt to me and the foods I eat. I want to lose three pounds. (see also: Fooducate)

Hatchi: For whatever reason, a significant memory from my childhood is getting a Tamagatchi on family vacation. Except the Destin toy store was out and Dad bought us Dinky Dino Pals or something like that. We love, love, loved them. Weirdly, my first thought upon finding out I could get an iPhone** was “do they have a Tamagatchi?” Hatchi has taught me that in the last 15 years my ability to over-invest in simulated pets has not diminished. My relationship with my actual dog makes more sense now, doesn’t it?

I also have an orange and pink Kate Spade rotary dial cover, which I am stupidly proud of even though I suspect it is a knock off because it was $12 on Amazon.

What other apps should I check out?

*I won’t tell you. But Apple knows. I hate this fact so much. I tell as many apps as possible that no, they cannot use my current location. Where’s my tin foil hat?

**My parents are badass negotiators and I am grateful that often this affects my life positively. Bonjour, unlimited minutes on the family plan. Greattaseeya.

4 thoughts on “iPhone Is My Grad School Personal Assistant

  1. Find my iPhone is a must, Photoshop Lite is the best for quick photo touchups, Pocket is beautiful and amazing and wonderful (I think it’s similar to Good Reader, though I’m in love with Pocket and haven’t tried Good Reader), Appbox Lite is pretty awesome for those random utilities you never realize you’ll need, Flashlight is surprisingly helpful, and Sleep Cycle is a must for tracking your sleeping and reminding you to get more of it. 🙂
    Of course, there are always the staples of the YouVersion Bible, Evernote, IMDB, Mint.com, Netflix, and Wiki apps. For music listening, I vacillate between iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Songza, all of which are cool twists on the Pandora experience. I also feel like you’d probably enjoy WreckThisApp, which is a creativity-starting app. BookMyne and OverDrive are also really good if your local library is compatible. I also have a bunch of travel/dining apps that are indispensable to me when I’m on the road, but I think my list is more than long enough already. 🙂

  2. I don’t have an iPhone, but I still use Evernote a lot, mostly for keeping my knitting patterns organized and with me at all times. I also use it a lot to keep track of travel info when conference-going because I find it a lot easier to copy and paste stuff from my computer and have it show up on my phone. I just started using MyFitnessPal and it’s only letting me have 1200 calories too! (OMG you’re so skinny.)

  3. Thanks, everyone! I will look those up! 🙂
    For music, I’ve also been using Daytrotter, which is fun for live sessions with independent groups.

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