The App Way to Professional Self-Improvement

By Mike Elgan Print this article Print
Professional Self-Improvement

All business and technology leaders must polish their business skills and habits. Mobile apps can help them do that in their spare time, every day.

Do an Activity Daily

Another way to build habits is to do that activity every day, and avoid breaking the chain of days when you do that particular task.

An iPhone app called Streaks is basically a to-do list that keeps you on track to exercise, practice public speaking, and do other things every day. Streaks works with the Apple Watch, and you can use it almost entirely from the watch. You can use it to remind you of activities, and it can report on the successful completion of whatever you set out to practice each day.

Meditation for Business People

Meditating to improve business performance, public speaking skills, management skills and other professional goals is all the rage in Silicon Valley.

Meditation apps and other resources have been around for a long time. The problem is that if you're one of the many people who are skeptical about the benefits of meditation—or you think you're just too type-A to still your mind—it's hard to find a coaching resource that works.

So many of the meditation videos and apps are too mystical, annoying and/or time-consuming—or they make incorrect assumptions about your world view.

That's why I recommend an app called "10% Happier." Its tag line is, "Meditation for fidgety skeptics!" The app is based on a book with the same name, which was written by Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris, who was a meditation skeptic. That changed when he had a panic attack during a news report on ABC.

As a journalist, Harris began looking for answers to a larger problem that affects millions of people: How do you stop the out-of-control chatter in your head that leads to distraction, exhaustion and (for some) panic attacks while speaking publically.

The result is the book and iPhone app that offer meditation for people who don't believe in meditation.

Track Yourself!

It's often difficult to know exactly how you're spending your time. And it's easy to mislead yourself about how much sleep you're getting and how much time you spend actually working.

An iOS and Android app called Exist helps you track everything and see data that shows what's really going on in your life.

Exist collects data from other devices and services you're using and also pulls in other information, such as weather reports. The app pulls from Twitter, your Apple Watch or FitBit, Swarm, Moves, Instagram, Dark Sky and many others.

In addition, Exist tracks your mood, and applies that information so you can see which factors lead to you having a good day, and why contribute to a bad day. It even tells you which restaurants are causing you to gain weight!

Exist costs $6 per month, but you can try it free for 30 days.

Why Apps Work

Apps are a great way to build your skills and habits because you always have your phone with you. By using these and other professional self-improvement apps, you won't suffer from "mission creep" or "goal drift." The app will remember your goals and achievements, and keep you on point for as long as you allow the app to alert you with notifications.

Humans have a natural need to continuously evolve. As a professional, you want to be the best version of yourself you can be. And the art of self-improvement is essential in today's competitive business arena.

There's no need to accept a bad habit, lack a particular skill or endure career-degrading personal limitations. You can get good at whatever activity you work on consistently, and mobile apps are probably the best way to make that happen.

This article was originally published on 2017-02-22

Mike Elgan, a Baseline contributor, is a Silicon Valley-based columnist, writer, speaker and blogger. http://elgan.com/

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