Reducing Stress and Anxiety – 3 Things That Work For Me

Over the years, probably brought on by being a startup junkie and always having poured myself unreservedly into work my entire professional life, I’ve developed several bad habits or things that are harmful to health, and perhaps also to relationships.

On the one hand, there is this insatiable passion and seemingly endless energy to take on challenges, get stuff done, being an engine that is always on. Sadly, on the other hand, there is fatigue, irritability, loss of focus, and low quality sleep. Undeniably, according to both ancient wisdom and modern medical know-how, the latter set of things affect one’s health dangerously. And with equal importance, the closest relationships are exposed to occasional bouts of irritability and other forms of negative energy. Broadly speaking, there is a general feeling of stress and anxiety as a result.

Three things I have either changed or started recently are personally helping me a lot without taking away from my productivity, and seem to be helping cut out the bad set of things.

RelaxPool

1. Turn off all audible alerts and lock-screen notifications on devices. (Except calendar reminders and text messages.)

This was a surprisingly welcome change. Sounds simple, but do you really need to be suddenly interrupted from your flow or zone, with a ding and a lock screen message that “Your Facebook friend so-and-so just joined Pinterest.” – and other irrelevant, unnecessary crap? I started going into my iPhone’s Notifications setup each time anything came up (Mail app alerts, Google alerts, Facebook, Twitter, CNBC alerts, and perhaps 10 others), and turning them off. I left Calendar and text message alerts on as I control the reminders I put on my calendar items, and also I am not a defocussed incessant texter – especially when I work, so most texts I get are important. On the same note, during work hours, I only make myself visible to the group of people I am working with on messaging apps. I still check my email and look at my agenda frequently, but on my own schedule, when I am in-between focussed tasks – kind of like waking up in sync with natural sleep cycles. Which leads me to my second thing – sleep.

2. Sleep well. Instead of an alarm clock, use an app like Sleep Cycle.

I started using this about a couple of months ago instead of using a regular alarm. It is ingeniously simple. You turn it on, put it next to your pillow facing down. It tracks your sleep cycles, duration and quality by tracking motion (whatever it detects from your tossing and turning, etc.), and perhaps from movement noise since it asks for access to the microphone. You can configure a window of time to wake up in, and it detects a stage when you are either awake or your sleep is in the waking part of the cycle during that time window, and wakes you up. Also, it measures your sleep quality and gives you a score and a graph of sleep level over time – that way you can correlate various pre-sleep activities with quality of sleep – for example, does sipping some tart cherry juice an hour before going to bed actually help with sleep, does deep breathing right before sleep give you some golden deep sleep cycles, etc. As my friend Chip had said 20 years ago: you should measure things that you care about. Inducing positive energy and a calm disengagement via pre-sleep deep breathing, and cutting out sources of negative energy seem to help in my case – which takes me to the third point.

3. Add positive energy (many choices). Cut out negative energy (namely TV news channels, and social media complainers).

Points 1 and 2 take zero time investment and give heavy positive returns. So that’s golden for the ROI (return-on-investment) fanatics. Point three is also a net positive – consuming about 30-60 minutes of time every day for adding positive energy (meditation / deep-breathing / quiet-time / simple yoga / reading / praying / reflecting / being grateful – look up Positive Psychology when you have a minute), but freeing up much more than that by subtracting sources of negative energy that steal time both directly and indirectly, and negatively affect every aspect of life. I am talking primarily about TV “news” folk, political talking-heads and other assorted villains – kings and queens of ignorance on TV and the internet constantly furthering their narrow agendas by stepping on your gentle minds. They come from the right and the left – ignore them, and instead look straight at what you value – there’s much better stuff there. The negative energy sources are plentiful in our social circles, in person, and more so on social media since it’s a much larger set. Cut. Them. Out. Hide them from your feeds, unfollow them, walk-away, change the topic, do whatever it takes to cleanly disengage. There are always tons of important things that require immense energy, constructive debate, championing ideas, defending values, and much effort without all the shallow and shrill things stealing our precious time. Any issue that is important to you can be engaged with constructively without subscribing to a buffet-line of fast-food class negative sentiments. That frees up more time to embrace positive things. Things you admire. Things you learn from. Things that leave you positive. Spend time with people that enrich you, and take a vacation every now and then!

What are some of your favorite positive energy sources? What kinds of negative energy sources have you successfully cut out? Please share.

Guide to Using LifeTopix as a Quantified Self Tool

The Quantified Self is a movement that advocates measuring aspects of your daily life such as calories, blood pressure, exercise, diet, heart rate, and other metrics. The purpose of measuring these aspects of your life is to gain knowledge about yourself, which can lead to insights for improving your health and happiness and for reaching personal goals. Quantified Self is also referred to as self tracking or self quantifying.

Are you skeptical? Is the Quantified Self movement just a fad? Consider this. Would you make a serious business decision without data to back it up? So why not make decisions for your personal life based on analytical data? Data is POWER — however you apply it. Collecting data about yourself can empower you to make the right decisions in life.

Still doubtful? Watch this inspiring talk by Ari Meisel about how he was able to relieve his Crohn’s disease symptoms through analyzing his data: http://quantifiedself.com/2011/10/ari-meisel-on-curing-the-incurable-through-self-experimentation/ .

How is data collected?

There are several apps and tools for gathering data manually and automatically. You can achieve automatic collection by using Wearables, which are devices that you wear that record various health-related analytics automatically such as calories burned, exercise, sleep, steps, or blood pressure, and sometimes they provide accompanying software. You’ll find several apps that allow you to to record these items both manually and automatically, but many are not flexible enough to record the items that YOU wish to record.

We take a different approach with LifeTopix (or the starter app My.Agenda) by allowing you to define the items YOU wish to record and log these items when and where you wish. This is accomplished through LifeTopix’s Log Forms and Multi-Topic Log Forms found in the Health + Activity topic.

The Power and Flexibility of LifeTopix

With LifeTopix, the power and flexibility is accomplished by allowing you to define what to measure with varying self-defined units. You’ll find out-of-the-box log forms including items such as Aerobics, Chores, Cooking, Family Time, Gym, Meditation, Reading, Body Fat, Blood Sugar, Breakfast, Dinner, and much more. However, if you want to track more complex or obscure items, such as happiness, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), C-reactive protein (CRP), sleep quality, hot flashes, supplements, etc. with LifeTopix, you can.

You can easily add, modify, or remove log forms to track any metric that’s appropriate for you. You’ll be surprised at the variety of units that we provide out of the box including: percent, calories, cups, days, grams, hours, inches, mg/dL, miles, minutes, mm Hg, on scale 1-10, on scale 1-5, pills, pounds, servings, sets, and times. Furthermore, we give you the ability to define your own units; therefore, you can essentially measure any metric you wish to measure.

One of our users provided us with the following screenshot of his log form, which measures his regular workout, including a full body stretch and cardio.

CardioStretch

He’s recorded these items over a long period of time, which helps him to analyze at what times he’s more motivated to complete his workout and what’s going on in his life that affects his workout.

Another user chose to measure calories and aerobic activity for weight loss. The following image shows an example of the log form entries that this user built.

FormEntries

As this user logs their entries over time, she can view the following types of graphs (line, bar, and plot) to measure progress and trends and she can also view a list of entries.

logforms

This user can also view the statistics individually in a Log Form (as opposed to the multi-topic log form) if she wishes to analyze the data for one activity, health item, nutrition item, or other type of item as the following bar chart shows:

aerobicsAre you ready to try measuring life statistics for yourself? Watch the following video to learn how.

Tutorial – How Do I Create a Multi-Topic Log Form?

Your Family Calendar, All in One Place

Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do. And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging. Learn how LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.

Transcript

Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do.

And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging.

Between Zumba, baseball games, meetings, carpools, and clubs, you feel like your drowning and it’s practically impossible to keep it all straight.

This is when LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.

LifeTopix is a central hub for your tasks, projects, shopping, events, travel, and more. My.Agenda is a starter, more economical version of LifeTopix that enables you to start small and expand as your organizational needs grow.

As the central hub of your life, LifeTopix works with all your calendars, including Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, your device Calendar, and others. You just need to configure these items in your device’s Mail, Contacts, and Calendars Settings.

So Why LifeTopix?

You might be wondering why you would use LifeTopix instead of your standard device calendar or a free online calendar.

There’s lots of ways to justify it – with 12 big reasons. The 12 Life Topics, which are intelligently designed topics that manage more than just calendar events.

These topics are connected and in one place, which eliminates the app hopping that you do when you install a flock of apps to do many different, disconnected things.

For example, when your contacts and service providers are linked to your calendar events and other items, you can easily contact them if you’re running late in just a few simple taps. You never have to open your device’s contacts or search for an email address again.

And don’t worry about getting lost with LifeTopix’s location services, you can always view your destination on the map.

LifeTopix keeps the whole family on the same page because it uses cloud services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive for device-to-device sync. Because of this, LifeTopix or My.Agenda becomes the perfect place to share your kids’ doctors appointments, playdates, sports, and other events with the whole family.

And LifeTopix gives you other options for sharing. You can share items via email, text, or social media with friends or family members.

Before you get started with Cloud Sync, all you need to do is go to www.dropbox.com and set up a free account for the family to share.

Once you’ve set it up, everyone in the family can point LifeTopix to the Dropbox folder using LifeTopix Settings.

Next, Voila, everyone can start using Dropbox sync.

You’ll find another video on our website or youTube channel that describes these steps in detail.

Now everyone can be on the same page about what’s going on from appointments, to checklists, to bill payments and more — we’ve got you covered.

Now that everyone’s sharing the same calendar, you can easily add all types of items to your family’s agenda without a lot of nagging.

And your weekly review is a piece of cake with this handy agenda view.

We know you have a lot going on, keep track of it and keep everyone in the loop while on the go with LifeTopix.

If you want to learn more go to www.lightarrow.com or find LifeTopix or MyAgenda at the Apple App Store in the Productivity section. Thanks for Watching.

More info at the Apple App Store:

LifeTopix

My.Agenda

7 LifeTopix Organizational Tips For Adults Living With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are complex and there can be many symptoms, but generally adults who are living with ADHD face difficulties staying organized and focusing on the task at hand.

LifeTopix and ADHD

Most experts agree that productivity apps or day planners can help those with ADHD manage their lives. The LifeTopix app is designed specifically for life management. It includes 12 life topics: Tasks + Projects, Shopping, Events, Travel + Places, People + Services, Health + Activity, Finances, Home + Assets, Education, Notes + Files, Media, and Bookmarks.

The simple routines and strategies I’ve outlined below can put those living with adult ADHD on the road to getting better organized and avoiding excess stress.

Being on Time

Those living with ADHD generally have difficulties being on time, whether it’s showing up or paying bills. Often they become distracted and lose track of time. This can lead to problems with relationships and difficulties at work because the perception is that the person is inconsiderate and disorganized.

A strategy for always being on time is to schedule every item to which the person has committed to on their calendar, and to make sure that audible and visual reminders are set. Add a buffer to each appointment. For example, if an appointment is at 12:00, schedule the prep time and the actual appointment on the calendar, as shown below.

LifeTopix Calendar ADHD

In LifeTopix, I’d suggest changing the settings so a reminder is triggered at the time of the appointment. For example, go to Settings and set Other (which includes Appointments) to Remind on same day as shown below. This way, the reminder will sound and display at the time of the appointment, which will trigger a prompt.

LifeTopix Reminders

Also, define how many days in advance that’s required to address paying bills. As soon as a bill is received, pay it or schedule a reminder for the payment in the LifeTopix Finances topic.

Managing Finances

Managing money could be a post all by itself, but keep in mind, for those with ADHD, micromanaging budgets is the key to success. According to HelpGuide.org, “Start by keeping track of every expense, no matter how small, for a month (yes, thirty days). This will allow you to effectively analyze where your money is going.”

Living with ADHD can lead to impulsive buying so keeping track of even the smallest purchases keeps spending in check. With LifeTopix, those with ADHD can record expenses, schedule payments on their calendars, add accounts, track bank accounts, create payment templates, track charitable donations, track assets, and take financial notes. The following screenshot shows an overview of the Finances topic showing the items that can be managed.

LifeTopix Finances ADHD

Prioritizing, Starting, and Completing Tasks

Those affected by ADHD might have serious problems with prioritizing, starting, and completing tasks. It helps to have an understanding of the tasks’ steps so breaking them down into smaller tasks and recording them via a planner are both good strategies. It’s also difficult to stay focused for a length of time on large tasks, so breaking them down helps to achieve finalization.

Every day, most people have tasks that they need to complete. Some are transient, mundane, and routine — like making the bed or feeding pets. Others are more strategic, such as tasks that allow them to complete large home or work projects. LifeTopix includes the ability to record both through checklists (to-do lists) and tasks.

Checklists (to-do lists)

It’s important to make a list of the items that need to be completed each day. Establish a consistent time to complete these tasks so they become routine. The short, transient tasks can be recorded via LifeTopix checklists. These tasks include make beds, prepare lunches, lock doors, feed pets, etc. In LifeTopix, users can create to-do lists on the fly in their main Agenda view. A to-do list might look something like the following screenshot.

LifeTopix todo list ADHD

Projects + Tasks

Break large-scale projects into smaller units (tasks), such as planning an overall house de-cluttering project. This is a project that could take several weeks or months, depending on the home size and free time allowed. For a large de-cluttering project, breaking down the project into smaller tasks, such as 1) Install fridge bins, 2) Clean out junk drawer, 3) Install appliance garage, etc. paints a realistic view of the time commitment, breaks the project into manageable chunks, and allows the project to be completed over time.

LifeTopix projects can include associated tasks (and other items). To properly plan, tasks include description, status, priority, effort (time), started/finished date/time, category, location, and repeat options. These options help to establish a deadline and total amount of time to completion. Scheduling dates enable the tasks to be shown on the Calendar, ensuring visibility and accountability. The following screenshots show a LifeTopix project and list of broken-down tasks for the project.

Project and Tasks ADHD

Tracking Negative Behaviors

Adults with ADHD are more likely to abuse alcohol, smoke, or abuse drugs. Professional help is needed for those who suffer from abuse; however, tracking any undesirable behavior can be useful. For example, regular monitoring of alcohol consumption can detect binge drinking episodes.

The LifeTopix app includes monitoring through log forms. The types of items and units recorded are user configurable. The following screenshot shows an example of a log form and the log entries for alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Consumption and ADHD

Tracking Medications

Forgetting to take medications is a common complaint from those living with ADHD. It’s common to forget when medications were taken and at times a reminder is also needed. Taking medications can be part of a daily routine to-do list or device reminders can be used.

LifeTopix includes built-in functionally for logging medications such as the dose, frequency, and side effects. This provides patients and doctors with data that indicates whether the medication is appropriate. It’s possible to add any type of medication and log any side effect. Furthermore, graphs show correlations between medications and side effects that are tracked.

The following screenshot shows an example of a multi-topic log form with medication and a side effect on a scale from 1 to 10, such as anxiety.

ADHD App LifeTopix Med Logs

Implementing Healthy Routines

Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and exercise are important for everyone to achieve optimal health, but become especially important for those with ADHD. Research shows that some individuals have the ability to eliminate medications when they exercise regularly. And nutrition also plays in important role.

According to Additudemag.com, “Studies by Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Richard Wurtman Ph.D., and others have shown that protein triggers alertness-inducing neurotransmitters, while carbohydrates trigger drowsiness.” Moreover, according to Livestrong, “Harvard Medical School’s associate professor of psychiatry John Ratey explains that some people who show symptoms of an attention deficit disorder may still need medication even when they do exercise, but others may be able to stop using stimulants altogether with an increase of physical activity.”

LifeTopix multi-topic log forms can also be created for nutrition, exercise, sleep, and associated ADHD symptoms. The method in which these forms are created is the same as with medication logs and side effects (discussed earlier), and are managed in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic.

Under Committing and Over Delivering

Due to impulsive behavior, those living with ADHD take on too many commitments and tend to over promise. Under committing and over delivering might appear to be dishonest, but for those with ADHD it can be used as an effective strategy. Consider the level of commitment before taking on a project or event. Before committing, let the requester know that consulting with a calendar or planner is necessary. Schedule a reminder to ensure the requester receives an answer in a timely manner. Review lists of projects, tasks, and to-dos to ensure that delivery is possible.

The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic allows users to gain awareness of the number of projects and the time committed. Also, the Agenda view (shown below) provides a high-level overview of the the current day, the next day, and the next seven days allowing the user to quickly evaluate the upcoming commitments and manage them as necessary.

LifeTopix Agenda View ADHD

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions, and please share your experiences about how you use LifeTopix to help you manage ADHD symptoms.

Six Good Life Habits and How to Develop Them

MOTIVATIONIf you’re like most people, sticking to good habits wax and wane over time. It takes discipline to stick to habits, and there are certainly periods of time that we’re more motivated than we are at other times. We even beat ourselves up over our inability to replace bad habits with good habits, which affects our self-esteem and further perpetuates our inability to break bad habits.

Consider that habits take time to create, and they can become quite established into our lives. In fact, according to research, learned habits (good and bad) change the neural patterns in a region of the prefrontal cortex of the brain (Kyle Smith Ph.D. and Ann Graybiel Ph.D. of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). In this study, the researchers interfered with the activity in this area of the brain in rats who had developed a habit of completing a maze to collect a chocolate milk reward. Once the researchers interfered, the habit was broken. However, they found that a suppressed habit can easily return with the proper stimulus.

Tips to Develop Good Habits

Below, I’ll provide tips that will help you learn how to stick to new habits. I’ll discuss the importance of establishing how the goal will improve your life; how to develop a new habit through repetition, and why you must document your progress.

Why do You Care?

It’s important to understand why a goal will improve your life. If you don’t understand the benefits and there’s no reward, then you’re less likely to accomplish it. No matter what your goal might be, you must be committed and laser focused on the result. Take notes on the benefits that you’ll realize from the goal, and review your notes regularly.

Repetition

What is a habit? Merriam-Webster defines a habit as “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.” Habits can be healthy or unhealthy. Through repetition, you can replace your bad habits with good habits, as long as the result includes a reward.

You’re probably wondering how many repetitions it takes to develop a new habit. Research varies on this subject. According to a study in the European Journal of Psychology, the days it took to form a habit ranged from 18 to 254 days with the average being 66 days, which indicates that it varies from person to person. Consider that the more difficult the habit, the longer it took to form it.

Documenting Your Progress

If you document and chart your progress, you’re more likely to succeed. For example, if your goal is to lower your blood pressure through exercise and nutrition, log your exercise sessions, medication, daily nutrition (especially sodium), and daily blood pressure. Identify any correlations between these items. When you see the results, you’ll be motivated to continue. If you’re not seeing results, you’ll understand that you need to make modifications in diet, medication or exercise.

Six Good Life Habits

The six good life habits that I recommend below are fairly popular among those who want to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Of course, everyone is an individual and what you should focus on is what is right for you and what your personal goals might be — within limits, of course.

Before making a change, research how this change will benefit you — whether it’s for your health, your finances, your relationships or your general happiness. Keep in mind, you should always start small when replacing good habits with bad habits. Changing everything at once is a recipe for failure.

1. Be Social

Research indicates that those who socialize with friends and family are generally happier people. According to a 30 year study of almost 30,000 adults from John Robinson and Steven Martin at the University of Maryland, unhappy people watched approximately 20 percent more television than very happy people. They concluded that those who spent more time socializing, rather than watching television, were generally happier.

Perhaps you’re an introvert, and you’re questioning if socializing could make you happy. For some, socializing goes hand-in-hand with feelings of anxiety. However, studies show that even introverts can gain the benefits of socializing within limits.

Tips for being more social:

  • Have lunch or dinner with friends or family at least once a week. Don’t fall into the trap of eating at your desk every day at lunch.
  • Make an effort to schedule activities with friends or family instead of spending time alone.
  • Don’t bury yourself in your smartphone when you’re at the coffee shop or the local grocery store. Attempt to strike up a conversation or smile and make eye contact with someone you don’t know. Get to know your Barista and chat with people who talk to you.
  • Join groups, clubs or professional organizations with people who share the same interests.
  • If you don’t feel confident in social situations, fake it till you make it. What do you have to lose?

2. Keep Your Brain Active

According to a study, which was published in the Archives of Neurology, those who participate in cognitive stimulating activities throughout life lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Participants who engaged in activities such as reading, writing, games, and exercise have less buildup of beta amyloid protein in their brains. Beta amyloid is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and neurological disease.

Tips for keeping your brain active:

  • Learn a new skill. Find something you’re interested in, such as playing the guitar, knitting, golfing or learning to sail.
  • Keep up-to-date about current events. Not only will this stimulate your brain activity, it will help you improve your social skills.
  • Play games, such as Sudoko or crossword puzzles.

3. Improve Your Nutrition

Countless studies have determined that your diet affects your energy level, your cognitive ability, and your appearance. Keeping a healthy weight for your age, size, and body type can boost your self esteem and lower your risk of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Consequently, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that are detrimental to your health will help you live a happier, healthier life.

Tips for improving your nutrition:

  • Work with a nutritionist or general practitioner to help you build a plan and set goals.
  • Track positive food consumption such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains which are essential for a healthy diet.
  • Track negative food consumption, such as solid fats, oils, alcohol, sodium, and desserts.
  • Plan meals ahead of time.
  • Eliminate junk food from your home to remove temptation.
  • Track the results (appearance, blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

4. Get Moving

According to a research review in Science Daily that summarizes 40 papers published between 2006 and 2010, regular exercise reduces several mental and physical health conditions and can decrease the speed at which we age. The review shows that exercise can reduce the risk of some cancers, dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and prostate cancer. The research recommends that, “Healthy adults aged between 18 and 65 should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week. Those who undertake more vigorous intensity exercise, such as jogging, should aim for 20 minutes three days a week. Healthy adults should aim for two strength-training sessions a week that work with the body’s major muscle groups.”

Tips to get moving:

  • Exercise in the morning, and prepare workout gear the night before.
  • Keep in mind a gym membership or expensive equipment is not necessary in most climates. Walking and jogging outdoors provide health benefits.
  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar.
  • Track your workouts and the results (appearance, strength, cardiovascular improvement, blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

5. Learn Relaxation Techniques

Muscle tension can be a response to chronic pain or a generally stressful life or occupation. Many of us experience shoulder, jaw, and neck tension without even being aware of it, which can develop into constant issues. Relaxation techniques teach you to release the tension in your muscles. Techniques such as guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing, biofeedback, and yoga can improve your quality of life. Other benefits can include a lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, better sleep patterns, and improved concentration.

Tips to relax:

  • Seek out the help of a professional for advice on controlling stress through relaxation techniques.
  • Schedule your relaxation sessions to ensure you make these sessions a priority.
  • Log your stress levels and their triggers.
  • Log your relaxation sessions.
  • Track the results (less pain, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, etc.) so you can see the reward.

6. Get Organized

When you decide to get organized, it seems like a lot of work. However, the results of getting organized are more time for yourself and with your family; less embarrassment from missed appointments and a messy home; lower stress levels; and a more sanitary environment. There are countless ways to get organized; however, below I’ll provide some of my top tips.

Tips for getting organized:

  • Use technology to help you organize your life, such as a personal organization app.
  • Make a daily to-do list.
  • Give everything you own a home. Searching for lost items is a huge time waster.
  • Schedule de-clutter sessions on your calendar.
  • Organize one room at a time. This way, you can see immediate results.
  • Don’t let junk mail into your home. Recycle it immediately and file away what’s important.
  • If something can be done in a few minutes, do it immediately.
  • When you buy something new, donate, recycle or throw away an old item.

We hope this helps you replace bad habits with new, healthy habits. Please share, and comment on your strategies for developing good habits — and what you consider to be the most important habits for a healthy and happy life.

Does Your Pregnancy App Allow You to Think Beyond Nine Months?

Our customers tell us time and time again that they install many apps and soon get bored with them or no longer find them useful. This is a trend that we typically see with “niche” apps, such as pregnancy apps that are built to manage one thing — your pregnancy. Imagine what you could do with an app that could manage your quest to get pregnant, your pregnancy, and your life after baby. This is what LifeTopix does — and more. Keep reading to learn how.

Get Pregnant LifeTopix

Pregnancy apps generally include the following features (but not all in one app): photo journals; text journals; logging (mood, energy, appetite, morning sickness, cravings, weight, measurements, medication, fitness, nutrition, etc.); MD visit planning; graphical charts; baby shower planning; baby shopping lists; pregnancy to-dos; favorite websites; and contraction counters. What’s great about LifeTopix is it’s completely user configurable so you can decide what you want to track. You can track everything from the days you’re ovulating to planning your child’s college fund.

Note: This post was created using a pre-released version of LifeTopix, which will be coming soon to the Apple App Store.

Charting Fertility

Each month, there’s a window of time (12 to 24 hours) during which an egg can be fertilized. You can track the times that you’re most fertile in your LifeTopix calendar. I recommend adding a LifeTopix Bookmark to this handy ovulation calculator from WebMD. Let it calculate the times it believes you’re fertile and add those times to your calendar. The following shows an example of your calendar with appointments.

high fertility

Scheduling Doctor’s Appointments

You can schedule your doctor’s appointments, midwife appointments, and tests such as ultrasounds the same way that you chart fertility. If you prefer to use your Google Calendar or Device’s calendar, LifeTopix works seamlessly with both.

Agenda

Creating Pregnancy Journals

Keeping a journal of your pregnancy is a wonderful way to record this special time in your life through your thoughts and photos. With LifeTopix, you can use the Notes + Files topic to record text, audio, video, photos, and drawings. The best way to get started is to create a Pregnancy Project, and then add a Note to the project. And if you use Evernote, you can also add your Evernote notes. In addition, printing capabilities are included. The following example shows the Notes view in which your journal would appear.

pregnancy journal

Logging Pregnancy Statistics

LifeTopix enables you to log just about any type of stat that you can possibly dream up. These stats are very helpful for fertility doctors, your OBGYN, and for your own reference. Examples of items to track might be mood, energy, appetite, cravings, morning sickness, blood pressure, glucose levels, prenatal vitamins, exercise, nutrition, calories, measurements, weight, and meditation. In addition, you can combine many of these items into multi-topic log forms and view a graphical representation of combined items to recognize any trends (such as meditation and mood). The following example shows data for waist circumference, represented in centimeters over time, in a graphical format.

waste circumference

Planning Baby Shower Events

An item that is unique to LifeTopix, as opposed to special Pregnancy Apps, is the ability to plan entire events, such as baby showers. LifeTopix enables you to add tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, video, notes, expenses, services, and shopping items to events. You can also manage the invitees, including keeping track of responses and emailing all invitees at once with updates.

baby shower

Recording Baby Shower Gifts Received

When you’re expecting, you’re likely to receive many gifts. With LifeTopix, you can keep track of all the gifts that you received during your pregnancy and after the baby arrives. When you record each gift, you can create reminders to make sure you send a thank you card.  The following shows an example of the gift record.

gift

Creating Shopping Lists for You and Baby

When you’re preparing for the baby, there are several items that you need to purchase for feeding, diapering, clothing, etc. You can find a great list of items to bookmark at Newparent.com. Once you decide on the items that you wish to purchase, you can create your shopping lists directly in LifeTopix. In shopping lists, LifeTopix calculates the total cost of each item based on the quantity to help you with planning your budget. You can also check off the items as you purchase them. You can add a seller, photos, notes, and product details to each item if you need more detail while you’re shopping.

The following shows an example of shopping lists in LifeTopix.

baby shopping items

Tracking Your Pregnancy To-dos

Many moms-to-be can feel very overwhelmed during their pregnancy. Keeping track of the many things that are necessary to prepare, be healthy, and manage life can be quite challenging. Keeping a to-do list can lower your stress level by helping you not worry about all the things that are bouncing around in your head. There are plenty of resources to help you prepare. A site that includes a very helpful set of checklists is Babyzone. In LifeTopix, you can create tasks for items that might linger for a while; and alternatively, create checklists for items that you quickly check off each day or week. The following shows an example of checklists in LifeTopix.

checklist

Remembering Your Favorite Pregnancy Websites

With LifeTopix Bookmarks, you can use your device to quickly access all of the websites that are useful for your pregnancy, documents that you’ve stored, and user names and passwords for your favorite websites or pregnancy forums. The following screenshot shows an example of bookmarks in LifeTopix.

bookmarks

Recording Kick Counts

Currently, LifeTopix doesn’t include automated functionality for tracking kicks; however, it can be accomplished via a manual process. According to American Pregnancy, “The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you time how long it takes you to feel 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. Ideally, you want to feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours. You will likely feel 10 movements less than that.”

For kick counts, you can set a reminder or appointments in LifeTopix to remind you to record movements as directed by your doctor or midwife. In LifeTopix, this can be accomplished by creating a Wellness Log form, and selecting the options that appear in the screenshot below:

kickcounts

So if you’re thinking beyond nine months, LifeTopix will be a great app for you. You can start planning your child’s college fund; manage your household expenses; manage your fitness to lose any post pregnancy weight; keep track of service providers, such as babysitters and day care providers; and the list goes on and on. You can learn more about LifeTopix at the Apple App Store.

A Day in the Life With LifeTopix

In this video, we’re following Susan who is a busy woman on the go. She’s a wife, mom, and real-estate agent. How does she do it all? She manages her time using LifeTopix. Watch the following video to learn how…

You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.

Transcript

Today, we’re going to be following Susan. Susan is a busy woman on the go. She’s a wife, mom, and real-estate agent. How does she do it all? She manages her time using LifeTopix.

Welcome to LifeTopix. If you’re not familiar with LifeTopix, it’s a complete productivity app for personal organization. With LifeTopix, you can manage your calendar, tasks/to-dos, projects, notes, files, health, and much more with its 12 topics. 

Let’s take a look at Susan’s busy schedule. We’ll start at the LifeTopix Agenda view. The Agenda view is a high-level view of everything that Susan has planned today, tomorrow, and the next 7 days.  This way, Susan always knows exactly what’s on her schedule. 

Also with the handy Agenda view, Susan can also manage her to-do lists. She sets up a daily checklist so she makes sure she hasn’t forgotten anything.

And if there’s something Susan doesn’t want to see, she can easily filter it out.

Susan has several ways of viewing her busy schedule on her calendar. She can view it by Day, Week, Month, and Year. And once again, handy filters let her decide what she wants to see.

The Near Me view makes planning your day very convenient because you can see exactly where all of your items for the day are located. You can tap the pin for more information, or you can dive into the details by tapping here.

Let’s dive into some of the details of Susan’s schedule. Sometimes Susan is required to drive the kids to school via carpool. So she set up a recurring appointment. She has not set up the location yet, but it is easy to do. If you tap here, select Specify/Show on Map, Add the Address, or just the name of the school, Search — it will automatically find the location for you and you can save it and refer to it at a later time.

Susan is a very fit and healthy woman and it’s important to her to exercise and eat right. I’m going to show you how she logs her calories and workouts each day. By choosing the Quick Add here. And then choosing log form, you can see the different log forms that she’s set up. One is for Activity, One is for Calories, and the next one is for her Daily Medications. When she wants to log her activity, she simply taps here, enters in the information, let’s say she did the treadmill for an hour today, and saves it and it’s logged for the day. It works the same way for calories and daily medications.

During lunch, Susan has set up an initial appointment with her Interior Designer for her home remodeling project. She sees her appointment is not confirmed so it’s easy to give Tad a call by tapping here and finding his contact information.

Susan has set up her home remodeling project as a LifeTopix project. When she meets with Tad, she will want to make sure she has some notes. Tad might have a blueprint that she can easily add, by adding a file here. 

It looks like Tad has brought his sketches. What’s great is Susan can attach them to her remodeling project in a PDF format.

Susan is also furthering her education by getting certified as a real estate broker. What’s very important for her is getting certified, so she’s set up a broker certification in her Education topic in Lifetopix. Today she has a test scheduled, so she has scheduled that as a task. In addition, she’s added notes to this so she can make sure to study for this quiz. She can also use Evernote to sync notes back and forth from LifeTopix to Evernote.

Last but not least, Susan has set up dinner with her family. Let’s go back to the My Calendar view and take a look at that. Here’s the appointment. She can easily tap here and see where to find the restaurant. But what’s really important to Susan is sharing her remodeling notes for collaboration with her husband. All she needs to do is tap here and send her husband this note via email. He can import this note directly into LifeTopix or he can open it.

I hope you found our “day in the life” helpful to give you an idea of how you can leverage LifeTopix in your own busy life. 

Eight Ways to Achieve Better Body Acceptance

It’s possible to accept and love your body without fitting into the stereotypes that Hollywood and the fashion industry dictates is ideal. It’s not about extreme dieting techniques and spending hours at the gym risking possible injury and resulting in neglected responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong. Healthy nutritional habits and regular exercise should be part of your life’s routine, but accepting your body is key to living a productive, happy, and fulfilling life. Imagine your body is a family member, child, or friend. If you set the same standards for your own body as you would for a child, you will be more cognizant of the way you treat it.

Body Acceptance

1. Limit your exposure to media about beauty

Do you ever feel bad about yourself after a visit to the hair or nail salon because you’ve spent the time flipping through the fashion magazines? According to MirrorMirror.org, “the average female fashion model wears a size two or four, for instance, while the average American woman wears a size 12 to 14.” It’s difficult to avoid comparing ourselves to the images that we see in the magazines, but you must understand they don’t represent the average American woman.

You might know about the famous study by Anne E. Becker, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School about the impact of Western television on Fijan adolescent girls. If you’re unfamiliar with this study, it concluded that there was a dramatic increase of disordered eating among girls in Fiji during a three year period in which Western television programming was introduced. This study reinforces the thoughts that media exposure to images of beautiful women has a profound effect on the self esteem of women — especially adolescent girls.

Limiting your exposure to the fashion magazines and television programming about fitness and beauty will result in improved body image and acceptance. Try something different. During downtime, try listening to TedTalks; read a fun or inspirational novel; or work on a hobby such as drawing, knitting, or writing. For example, divert your attention to something inspirational or nurture your creativity.

2. Avoid processed foods and prepare your own meals

Processed foods are difficult to digest and they don’t offer much nutritional value; therefore, they leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. If you have low energy, you spend less time doing the things that you want to do, which can lead to a depressed mood and poor body image. When you feed your body the right way, it will love you back — like a trusted friend.

Your body will thank you if you limit processed foods and eat a simple diet. A diet based on fruits, cheeses, vegetables, nuts, eggs, seeds, fish, whole grains, and lean meats will give you energy and improve your mood. It’s easy — eat simple, fresh, unaltered, nutritious food. Humans were not meant to eat from a styrofoam package or aluminum can.

3. Understand Your Personal Healthy Weight

Striving to be a healthy weight will boost your self esteem and body image. Understand that your healthy weight might not be what you think it is. For example, if you’re attempting to emulate the images of the fashion models in the magazines instead of determining a healthy weight for your age, size, and body type, it can lead to a poor self image. If you want to understand how to calculate your personal BMI (Body Mass Index), you can refer to this handy BMI calculator at WebMD. If you find that your BMI is not ideal, understand that carrying extra weight or being underweight is risky for your health. The motivation for changing your lifestyle to lose or gain fat is based on health, rather than external beauty and societal pressure.

4. Reward your fitness accomplishments and accept your limitations

According to Rodale.com, researchers at the University of Florida Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology found that exercise improved body image — regardless of any physical, post-exercise changes. And body image improved regardless of how long or frequently the participants in the study exercised.

If you’re healthy and you can run marathons, participate in triathlons, or work out on a regular basis, reward your body by nurturing it with hydration, vitamins, and healthy foods. Feel great about your strength and motivation — and be grateful for your abilities.

If you have health challenges, injuries, or time constraints, accept and reward your smaller efforts. Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t need extreme workouts to benefit from exercise. According to the American Heart Association, “walking for as few as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits” and “studies show that for every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.”

5. Write down something positive every day

There’s some controversy about whether or not positive affirmations work. But common sense tells me that many of us have negative thoughts and hear negative things from others every day. How do you counteract those negative messages? Try creating positive thoughts and messages and recording them every day. Look in the mirror and find something about yourself that you love — your hair, your eyes, your nose, or even your toes. Write it down. Did a friend or family member compliment you? Then, record it. Remind yourself of realities — models are Photoshopped; perfection is a myth; you CAN run a 5K; or anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. Write it down and read it when you’re having a bad body image day.

6. Balance your inner and outer beauty

Would you love your spouse, partner, or best friend any less if they gained ten pounds? Then why do you love yourself less? Stop beating yourself up — your body does not define who you are. Think about the people who inspire you. Is it because of their amazing six packs? Most likely, no — think about role models such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Junior, or Steve Jobs. We admire them for their kindness, insight, perseverance, and creativity — not their outer shell.

7. Stop waiting to do things you really want to do until you lose weight

How many times have you avoided a beach vacation, a night out with friends or family, or a summer party because of your negative body image? Engaging in activities that make you feel good and connecting with other people can improve your body image. Trust me, your friends and family love you unconditionally for who you are — not your body size.

8. Wear outfits that make you feel good about yourself

When you’re feeling bad about yourself, get out of your pajamas and put on a flattering outfit. Avoid tight or overly-baggy clothes. My secret weapon is bootcut or trouser jeans, high heels, and a cinched or belted, tailored jacket. The flared leg of the boot cut or trouser jean balances out a larger, curvier hip. The cinched jacket gives the illusion of a smaller waist. And, of course, the perfect pair of heels can subtract many imperfections. I often go to Pinterest for style inspiration from real women like me. Find style that suits you.

You might be wondering how you can use technology to stick to these healthy habits. In a future post, I’ll explain how the LifeTopix app can help you record positive thoughts and messages, log your feelings about your body image, track your nutrition and exercise, derive correlations between your emotions and actions, and much more.

Please comment about how you maintain your healthy body image or about your struggles with it. Thanks for reading!

Getting Organized After Your Travels — Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our three part series that cov­ers man­ag­ing your trips and travel with the Life­Topix app. In this series, we’ve been fol­low­ing Polly on her bird­ing trip on the coast of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Polly has returned from her travels, and a brand new year is underway. It’s important for her to get back to her regular routine, and to get acclimated to her work and personal obligations.

Enjoy the fol­low­ing slideshow to get an understanding of how Life­Topix can help Polly combat post-vacation blues, organize her life quickly and simply, and settle back into her normal life and routine.

[This SlideShare was cre­ated using Life­Topix 5.2, which is com­ing soon.]

Create post-vacation to-do lists

Like Polly, most people have a multitude of chores and tasks that pile up while they’re on vacation. Keeping everything you do in one place will make sure that you don’t forget anything important — like picking up Mr. Jinxy from the vet!

Stock the kitchen

After return­ing from a vaca­tion, the refrig­er­a­tor and cup­boards might be bare. Prepa­ra­tion is key. Make sure you have frozen meals stocked before­hand so you have some­thing to eat as soon as you arrive home. Next, cre­ate a shop­ping list and sched­ule time to pur­chase gro­ceries. After eat­ing at restau­rants for an extended period of time, your bud­get might be low and your waist­line might be expand­ing. Home-cooked meals will help solve both issues.

Re-establish a routine

Sometimes it’s an adjustment after travel and holidays to re-establish your normal routine. You’re accustomed to the freedom and enjoyment of doing what you want to do and when you do it. When you return to reality, using software  to schedule your appointments, create your post-vacation to-do lists, monitor your energy level and nutrition, and delegate tasks will help you feel in control of your life.

Keep your energy level up

Taking care of yourself is important after travel because, like Polly, you might be feeling a little deflated. Taking vitamins, drinking water, avoiding highly-processed foods, and re-establishing your exercise routine will help you stay energized. With LifeTopix you can log and track these items and monitor any trends.

Share your experience with friends and reminisce about the good times

LifeTopix makes sharing your travel experience with your friends easy. Your journal, favorite destinations, photos, websites, and people you met are all kept in one place. And with the social media and email sharing of LifeTopix, you can share experiences in just a few taps.

Tweet Us!

We honestly hope this helps you combat post-vacation disorganization and blues. We welcome your questions and comments!

Or even better, send us a tweet @LightArrowInc!

13 Ways LifeTopix Can Improve Your Life in 2013

What are your goals for 2013? Everyone wants to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life — but how do you get there? We’ve compiled a list of 13 ways that the LifeTopix calendar, productivity, and organization app can help you do more. The result? Get more done, reduce stress, and spend more time doing the things you really want to do.

1. Improve your nutrition

After the holidays, many of us are mortified when we step on the scale. Perhaps you can relate and you’re wanting to make better food choices and to maintain a healthy weight in 2013. LifeTopix can help you track your food consumption. For example, you can record and view the calories, protein, solid fats, alcohol, desserts, or almost any other item that you’re consuming each day in a graphical format. As an example, in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can use the LifeTopix Nutrition Log Forms to view the maximum number of calories that you’ve set to make sure you’re not exceeding this number. Or, if your goal is to eat more vegetables or protein, you can set this too!

2. Get your health under control

Ignoring health issues can have serious consequences. LifeTopix includes many features for tracking your health stats. Are you dealing with hypertension and your doctor has asked you to log your blood pressure? Are you anemic and you need to track your blood count? Do you have sleep problems and you want to track your sleep quality? LifeTopix can handle these items and many more via the LifeTopix Medication Log and Wellness Log in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic.

3. Take vitamins and medications consistently

Do you have good intentions about taking your vitamins and prescription medications, but frequently forget to take them or cannot remember if you’ve taken them? With some medications, it’s imperative that you’re taking them each day, and sometimes even at the same time each day. With the LifeTopix Medication Log form in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can record your intake of vitamins and medications each day — and the log automatically includes the current date and time when you add a medication entry.

4. Reach your fitness goals

Are you wanting to start a fitness routine, maintain your current fitness level, or bump your fitness up to a new level in 2013? Perhaps you’re training for a triathlon or planning your first marathon. Or, maybe you want to make sure you take a 30 minute walk with your dog each morning. Whatever your fitness level, LifeTopix provides the flexibility for planning and tracking your fitness. You can use the LifeTopix Activity Log Forms in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic to set and view any type of exercise you wish — and just like nutrition, you can see if you’re reaching those goals via a graphical format.

5. Make shopping trips more efficient

Do you spend hours planning your family meals and shopping at the grocery store? Do you want to spend less time shopping and more time with your family or friends, catching a game, or spending time on your hobbies? If this is one of your goals for 2013, LifeTopix can help. Many of us are creatures of habit so LifeTopix helps you organize the stores you go to frequently and the items you buy most often. You can add the items that you purchase — along with the seller, unit price, unit, quantity, and total price to your master list of products. Then, simply select these items, add them to your lists, and check them off as you buy them. It’s as simple as that.

6. Save money and stick to your budget

After the holidays, you might want to put a little jingle back in your pocket. And with the downturn in the economy, sticking to a budget in 2013 might also be one of your highest priorities. The LifeTopix Finances topic was created for just this reason. Not only can you track all your financial accounts, credit card and debit cards, and investment accounts  — it lets you record the recur­ring bill pay­ments for all the ser­vices you use and the one-time pay­ments you make. You can view all of these pay­ments on your Expenses Calendar. And you can track the things that you sell, such as through a garage sale or ebay. And, as an added bonus, you can track your online coupons in the Shopping topic to help you save a little extra money.

7. Get smart

Whether you’re a student or a professional who’s focusing on their personal growth or professional skills, LifeTopix can help you organize and track the things that you need to further your education. If you’re a student, the Education topic enables you to take notes about education, set up projects and assignments, and add the subjects that you take. As a student, you can create a class schedule and associate a location with each of your classes. Or perhaps you’re a professional who’s obtaining a HIPAA certification, taking graphic design classes to improve your design skills, or becoming a fitness instructor — with LifeTopix, you can utilize personal growth categories to help you track your certifications and training in the LifeTopix Education topic.

8. Be creative

Are you planning to start a new business, write a novel or screenplay, or compose music in 2013? Have you ever had a creative thought related to your job or hobbies, but didn’t catch that idea immediately and then forgot it later? We just can’t predict when a great idea is going to pop into our heads so being prepared through journaling is wise. Mobile devices are amazing for capturing those ideas because we carry them almost everywhere we go. The LifeTopix Notes + Files topic is perfect for this use. You can take notes everywhere you go and if you prefer to use Evernote for note taking, LifeTopix conveniently works with it too.

9. Build relationships

In 2013, one of your goals might be to build business or personal relationships. To build relationships, it’s helpful to record your interactions with friends, family, or colleagues. For example, perhaps you’ve included all your friends’ and family members’ birthdays and you want to ensure you wish them a happy birthday and send them gifts. Through LifeTopix, you can set a reminder, plan the gift you wish to purchase, and automatically add it to a shopping list. Any time you associate a person with an item in LifeTopix, those people are filed under the People + Services topic. The possibilities are endless. You will be the star of your next family reunion. And, LifeTopix works with your iOS contacts so double entry is not necessary.

10. Make more time for yourself

For your well being, it’s a great idea to schedule time for yourself. If you’re the type of person who takes on too much responsibility and needs to share more of it, then LifeTopix is for you. Through the LifeTopix “Discuss” features, you can share your projects, checklists, events, shopping lists, trips, visits, notes, and more. For example, you can create a shopping list and then share it with your spouse. Or you can create a “honey-do” list with chores for your husband. Your spouse can view it via email and then add it to LifeTopix in just one tap.

11. Go paperless and reduce clutter

Is your home office a cluttered mess? Do you want to reduce your consumption and accumulation of paper to reduce your impact on the environment? Do you want to lighten your load when meeting clients or going to the office? If so, LifeTopix is for you. LifeTopix works with popular cloud-based file storage systems such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive so you can store all your items digitally — and then associate those documents in the context of your life items within LifeTopix.

12. Get things done

Do you have DIY projects that you want to complete such as organizing your closet, remodeling your kitchen, or landscaping the backyard? Or perhaps you’re planning to build a new website? With LifeTopix, you can plan your projects and tasks with ease. The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic gives you the abil­ity to enter, orga­nize, pri­or­i­tize, track, and check off your projects’ tasks.

13. Take a vacation

Now that you’ve saved money, got more done, built up your client base, got your health under control, finished your projects, and lost a few pounds — it’s time to take a vacation. Luckily, with the Life­Topix Travel + Places topic, you can plan your vacation from end-to-end. You can track the dates, set reminders, make packing checklists, set bookmarks to travel websites, and make note of places you want to visit such as restaurants, golf courses, or tourist attractions.

We hope this gives you some ideas of how you can use LifeTopix to improve your life in 2013. Please share and comment! Happy New Year!

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