Mother’s Day 2015 – 12 Best Apps for Moms


Every year, more and more moms are getting connected and their mobile use is skyrocketing. These tech savvy moms want their mobile devices to be equipped with the best apps to help them save time, save money and make their lives safer and easier. For Mother’s Day, we compiled a list of our 12 favorite apps for iPhone and iPad and we’re sharing these apps with our readers to help them get more from their mobile devices. These apps are paid, freemium and free. Click on the app’s link to learn more about the pricing.

1. Evernote® – Rating 4+

Click here to find Evernote at the Apple App Store

Evernote is for note taking and it’s considered a best-of-class app. It’s a “freemium” application, which means you can use it for free and choose to be charged for upgrades.

Why is Evernote great for moms? Moms are busy people and can’t keep everything inside their heads. With Evernote, it’s super easy to take notes, organize things found on the web and make checklists. With tagging, moms can easily find the information that they’ve saved in Evernote. I like using the Evernote Web Clipper. It allows moms to “clip” information from the web and save articles, recipes and more in Evernote.


2. Dropbox™ – Rating 4+

Click here to find Dropbox at the Apple App Store

When I first started using Dropbox years ago, it was simply a great way to share big files with co-workers, family and friends. Dropbox has evolved over the years and it has become extremely popular for file storage in the Cloud. With Dropbox, moms can store their photos and documents and easily share them with others. 2 GB of space is available for free and more can be obtained with a fee or through other actions, such as sharing.

Why is Dropbox great for moms? It’s an excellent way to back up and share family photos, receipts and other important documents. Moms can scan report cards, homework, kids artwork, etc. and save these items forever in a safe and secure place. No worries about hardware crashes. It also helps to keep the house tidy eliminating paper clutter.


3. LifeTopix™ from LightArrow, Inc. – Rating 4+

Click here to find LifeTopix at the Apple App Store

LifeTopix is an all-one-organizer for work and life. Many use it for life management or small business management. It’s excellent for getting and staying organized. It’s one of the best personal organization apps for families and anyone else who wants to boost their productivity.

Why is LifeTopix great for moms? It’s like having a personal assistant that organizes everything. Moms can organize travel, projects and tasks, events, finances, health and fitness, home assets, bookmarks, photos and shopping — all in one place, which prevents the need to jump from app to app. The Agenda view, shown below, is super handy for knowing what’s coming up today, tomorrow and in the near future at a glance.


4. Scanner Pro by Readdle – Rating 4+

Click here to find Scanner Pro at the Apple App Store

I recently discovered Scanner Pro and wow I was impressed. Scanner Pro essentially turns your iPad into a scanner, saving you loads of time.

Why is Scanner Pro great for moms? As I mentioned earlier, Dropbox is an excellent way to keep the house tidy by storing documents. With Scanner Pro, moms can easily scan all types of documents, save them in a variety of sizes (A4, letter, legal, business card, etc.), and upload these documents directly to a variety of other apps, including Dropbox and Evernote. Moms can also open these scanned documents in LifeTopix allowing them to associate the documents with projects, events and other LifeTopix items. In the example below, I’ve scanned a bike map which I can access directly from LifeTopix if I get lost while cycling — no need to carry a physical map in my bike pouch.


5. What to Expect – Rating 4+

Click here to find “What to Expect” at the Apple App Store

Just about everyone who’s expecting or who’s had a baby has heard of the famous book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” This app is based on the famous book. It’s basically a roadmap for your pregnancy on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Why is “What to Expect” great for moms? This app is especially valuable for first time moms. It offers practical advice, tips, articles, videos and message boards. It also helps moms communicate information with their spouse or partner, which is fun and helpful during pregnancy.


6. Finding Rover – Rating 3+

Click here to find Finding Rover at the Apple App Store

Finding Rover uses a new facial recognition technology to make finding dogs easy through a community of users. For example, you take a photo of your pet and upload it to the app. Someone finds your beloved pooch and snaps a photo. Voila! Your pup’s face is matched and found! And did I mention the app is free?

Why is “Finding Rover” great for moms? Every parent knows that losing a beloved pet is heartbreaking for the entire family. Fortunately Finding Rover has come to the rescue.


7. OverDrive – Rating 4+

Click here to find OverDrive at the Apple App Store

As a leading distributor of eBooks, OverDrive offers eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video from local libraries. In fact, there’s a network of over 30,000 libraries worldwide that offers titles from OverDrive.

Why is OverDrive great for moms? Many moms like to relax with a good book, but it’s hard to find time to get to the library. In this situation, OverDrive is a perfect solution. Also, everyone knows that reading is the cornerstone of learning. OverDrive offers many titles for kids and it’s a great way to quickly introduce new books to inquisitive children.


8. Etsy – Rating 4+

Click here to find Etsy at the Apple App Store

Etsy is a new way to shop. Everything found on Etsy is created or curated by people running independent businesses. Essentially, if you want to find something different and unique, Etsy is the place to find it.

Why is Etsy great for moms? I think most moms would agree that they love shopping on Etsy because of the extraordinary things they can find. It also allows them to support independent businesses. And moms with an entrepreneurial spirit can create their own businesses while taking care of kids at home. In fact, Fast Company reported that Alicia Shaffer’s business named ThreeBirdNest makes $80,000 monthly!


9. Calm – Rating 4+

Click here to find Calm at the Apple App Store

Calm is an app for meditation, sleep, relaxation and focus. It helps users learn mindfulness meditation and includes seven guided meditation sessions from 2 to 30 minutes.

Why is the Calm app great for moms? Moms live in a busy world and they don’t have a lot of time to relax and focus on the present moment. When stress takes over, it can take a toll on physical health. Meditation can improve sleep, treat heart issues, relieve chronic pain, lower blood pressure and improve insulin resistance.


10. RetailMeNot – Rating 4+

Click here to find RetailMeNot at the Apple App Store

RetailMeNot is an app for saving money and who doesn’t like saving money? This app provides deals (online and nearby) and allows its users to view these deals by category. “Trending” deals are also provided so users can find the most popular discounts.

Why is RetailMeNot great for moms? It’s an excellent app for saving money and no coupon clipping is required. Moms can just show the retail clerk the barcode on their iPhone or iPad and be on their way!


11. Skype – Rating 3+

Click here to find Skype at the Apple App Store

Skype is a service that features video calling, voice calling, instant messaging and file sharing. It’s a Microsoft product that was purchased from Ebay in 2011. Skype is similar to FaceTime and Google Hangouts, but it provides some advantages for those who want to video or voice chat with people who use a variety of devices and software. For example, with Hangouts, users are required to set up Google + accounts. With FaceTime, users are required to own Apple devices. Consequently, if you want to video chat with Grandma in Poughkeepsie who’s still using Windows 7 and isn’t keen on social networks, you’re in luck if you’re using Skype.

Why is Skype great for moms? Nothing replaces face-to-face communication, but video chatting is the next best thing. These days, many families are spread around the country and even around the world. If you can’t be with your mom this Mother’s Day, consider helping her set up Skype on her computer or smartphone. This way, you can have video chats regularly — not matter what technology she’s using.


12. NextDoor – Rating 4+

Click here to find NextDoor at the Apple App Store

NextDoor is a free private social network for neighborhoods. According to their website, over 60,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. are now using NextDoor. When you sign up and open the NextDoor app, you’re presented with a variety of happenings in your neighborhood. It provides classifieds, crime alerts, lost and found and general information such as social events, traffic alerts, HOA meetings and news around your city.

Why is NextDoor great for moms? These days, moms are so busy it’s challenging to stay in the loop, especially if they work outside the home. NextDoor is it has become the new “Neighborhood Watch.” If anything suspicious or unusual is happening, parents know instantly through the optional notifications. It’s also a great way to sell, trade and purchase used items — it feels much more safe than using Craiglist.


Your Turn

We love sharing and reading about useful apps. Please share your favorites in the comments below. Thanks!

8 Common Time Management and Productivity Mistakes That Moms Make


Mom and Baby

In our modern world, we have demands on our time that our parents’ generation never even dreamed about. Our children have more challenging schedules; school is more competitive than ever before; and the modern digital world presents distractions that would have been science fiction in our parents’ time.

If you feel like you don’t have enough time in your day and you’re struggling to stay on top of things, keep reading to learn about these 8 mistakes that you might be making.

1. You Spend Too Much Time Online

We’re fortunate that we have access to information anywhere and at any time. However, the availability of information is a mixed blessing. According to the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, Millennial Moms spend nearly 8.3 hours on a typical weekday using digital media. This includes tablet, smartphone, laptop, TV streaming, radio and television. And the Gen X moms are not immune. They’re right behind them with an average of 7.4 hours of daily media use.

As you probably know, once you get online you can fall down a slippery slope. You pop on Pinterest to see if there’s a new recipe for a Gluten-free, Paleo stew and before you know it, you’re bombarded with beautiful and enticing photos of DIY projects, summer outfits and new hairstyles. You’re sucked in and suddenly you’re at the hardware store purchasing the materials to make a Mason jar chandelier.

It’s interesting that parents limit the screen time of their children; however, many are not setting the limits on themselves. Think about the amount of time that you spend plugged in. You might find that your time could be spent more productively elsewhere.

2. You Don’t Make Time for Exercise

Many moms don’t make the time for exercise because they’re busy with their career and parenting. Again, according the 2014 Millennial Mom Report, on average, Millennial Moms spend -0.8 hours a day exercising. If you’re a regular exerciser, congratulations, you can skip to the next section!

What many moms don’t realize is there are hidden productivity benefits of exercise. Exercise doesn’t just provide weight loss and health benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes. Getting fit also improves energy level, alertness and might also prevent sicknesses by boosting the circulation of white blood cells.

Think about how you could carve out an extra 30 or 60 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk or a bike ride with your kids and find a gym with a fun daycare. Take a run while your child is at a piano lesson, rather than checking Facebook or Pinterest. Think about other creative ways to make exercise a priority in your life. The productivity results will be amazing!

3. You Over Schedule Your Kids

I’m sure you’ve read about the possible dangers of over-scheduling kids. They get burned out, stressed out and cranky. But what about the moms who schedule, organize and support all of these activities? They aren’t immune to the same effects. An overly busy schedule can consume a considerable amount of time in many moms’ lives. Between tutors, sports, music lessons and other activities, moms spend numerous hours supporting kids’ events. It takes a toll on health and sucks away time that could be used more productively.

This doesn’t mean that you should eliminate stimulating activities. Find a healthy balance. Ensure you have a support system. Take turns carpooling with other parents; divide and conquer with your spouse or partner; and elicit the help from older children. If you still can’t find the time to prepare a healthy dinner and your kids are finishing their homework past 10:00 at night, it’s time to re-prioritize these activities.

4. You Do Everything For Your Kids

Out of all of the items listed here, this is the one that I’m most guilty of. As a busy working mom, I sometimes find it easier just to take care of things myself then to teach my son to do it. Big mistake.

It’s likely that you’ve heard the Chinese proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same is true for our kids. Teaching them life skills such as doing dishes, choosing their clothes, doing laundry, learning to drive, taking care of pets, making beds, etc. frees your time and teaches them how to be responsible. Of course, it can be frustrating at first – especially when your son chooses to wear superhero tights with a tuxedo jacket to school. However, you’ll pat yourself on the back when they’re packing up boxes and heading to college.

5. You Make Mental Lists

When you’re a busy parent, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands on your schedule. And when you’re relying on memory alone to keep things straight, items are bound to fall through the cracks. The human brain is only equipped to remember a few things at a time. And it’s also a well-known fact that trying to remember too many things can lead to anxiety and stress.

If you haven’t started using a calendar, day planner or personal organization app on your Smartphone for managing your schedule and keeping track of to do lists, then get started today. Being free of mental clutter takes a huge load off of your shoulders.

6. You’re Ignoring “The Cloud”

I discussed mental clutter above, but what about physical clutter? Physical clutter also negatively impacts productivity. Physical clutter in the form of papers messes with your focus, which makes you less productive. An easy solution to paper clutter is to take advantage of “Cloud Storage.”  If you don’t know what “The Cloud” is, don’t be embarrassed. In fact, according to Citrix, when they surveyed respondents about it, 29% responded that it is a “fluffy white thing” in the sky.

If the Cloud perplexes you, you’re not alone. Without getting technical, it’s essentially an infrastructure of servers (computers that provide data to other computers) that all work together to deliver services to you over the Internet. When you upload files to the Cloud, you’re storing them elsewhere, instead of on your local machine.

Cloud storage is provided to you for free for personal use (until you run out of space). You can take advantage of services such as Dropbox™, Box™, OneDrive™ (SkyDrive) and others to store your important scanned papers. You simply scan, copy and upload those files to the Cloud. It’s actually extremely easy to set up and utilize.

You’re probably wondering how the Cloud is going to save time. Unlike your filing cabinet, Cloud storage opens up the ability to better organize and search using keywords for quick access to files. Not to mention, it clears up the clutter in your home, which frees your mind.

7. You Drink Too Much Coffee

Before writing this post, I asked my teenage son what time management mistakes that he sees moms making. He surprisingly answered, “they go to Starbucks too much.” This made me think about the impact of caffeine on productivity. Caffeine is a double-edged sword. Sure, it wakes you up and may help you focus. However, coffee is a stimulant so it can keep you up at night, which leads to lost productivity. In addition, caffeine dehydrates you, which depletes your energy. If you’re overdoing it, start replacing your afternoon coffee with herbal tea or water. Make sure to stay adequately hydrated to keep your energy level up.

8. You’re Not Planning Ahead

After working in the tech industry for many years – dealing with aggressive deadlines and startup schedules — I learned a thing or two about the best ways to conquer a project. In my opinion, one of the most rewarding and challenging projects you’ll ever face is raising children and running a household. So why not treat it like you would any other project?

In tech, the Agile Methodology is a very popular project management technique. Two excellent takeaways from the Agile Methodology, which you can apply to getting things done at home are ”Planning Meetings” and “Review Meetings.” For example, take the time to conduct a family meeting once a week to plan the activities of the upcoming week and to also reflect upon what went right and what went wrong during the previous week. Discuss meals, shopping lists, activity schedules, homework and career commitments. Your family life will run more smoothly and you’ll get more things done.

Your Turn

Are you making any of these mistakes? What are the roadblocks that keep you from getting things done? Comment and let us know!

This Is How We Roll Thursday Feature

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing

Read the latest version of this post at: GTD Basics – Methods for Organizing Actions and To Dos in LifeTopix

LifeTopix and My.Agenda are personal organization apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Both apps are especially useful for those who utilize David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method. The GTD method is an excellent method for organizing your life and getting things done. And it’s not just for your work life. I recently stumbled upon this post from April Perry that mentions how GTD enabled this mom to really enjoy her family.

GTD Lady Post It

We’re constantly incorporating features that are useful for GTD, and we enjoy sharing our best practices for using these features. In this post, I’ll show you how you can use LifeTopix’s features for the Organizing phase of GTD. Keep in mind that our starter App, My.Agenda, can include many of these features discussed by purchasing the Get Things Done Pack as an in-app purchase.

Note: The screenshots in this post were created using an unreleased version of LifeTopix, which will be coming soon to the App Store.

What is GTD?

If you’re not familiar with GTD, it’s “the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity,” according to David Allen’s website. Allen lays out five key phases of the GTD process, which include 1) Capture/Collect, 2) Process, 3) Organize, 4) Review, and 5) Do. This post focuses on the Organize phase of this workflow.

What is the Organize Phase of GTD?

When you consider organizing, think about how you would divide your home life and work into various areas. Consider how you would sort your life before you get started. In an earlier post, we discussed using LifeTopix to define each collected item as actionable or non-actionable. Once you’ve completed processing items, you can begin organizing them (or this may be done simultaneously for some items). During the Organize phase, you divide your items into various areas.

Major sections include the following areas:

  • Projects – Actions that require more than one step to complete.
  • Calendar Items – Actions that must be completed at a designated day and/or time.
  • Next Actions – Items that only require one step, such as “call mom.”
  • Waiting For – Items that others need to complete that affect you or your work.

Allen suggests that you also organize your reference material, which are items that do not have any actions associated with them.

Reference material might include:

  • Checklists
  • Items without actions, but need to be retrieved at some time
  • Notes from meetings, classes, etc.

Projects in LifeTopix

During the Capture and Collect phase, you collect items that are subsequently processed during the Processing phase. You might have placed them in a holding area via the LifeTopix Quick Inbox and then converted the items to the proper type of object — such as a Project.

Allen suggests that you create projects for actions that require more than one step. For example, if you’re starting a landscaping project, you will have several tasks such as 1) choose three landscape design firms to obtain bids, 2) set up appointments with landscape design firms, 3) choose designs, and so on.

When using LifeTopix, your first step for organizing your projects is to define project categories (under Manage Categories in Settings) that are relevant for your life. Built-in categories include Education, Health + Activity, Indoor, Media, and Outdoor, as shown in the screenshot below.


You can add more categories or delete the default categories — LifeTopix is very flexible allowing you to define what works for you. You can further organize by creating subcategories under your categories. Once you’ve created your categories, you can create a project and break it down into tasks, as shown in the following screenshot.


As a side note, you can view your tasks by Open, Undated, and Overdue. And you can assign a status such as In Progress, On Hold, Completed, Canceled, or on Hold, if desired.

Calendar Items and Next Actions

Actions that must be completed at a certain date and time, such as classes, meetings, doctor’s appointments, kids’ activities, etc. are handled easily by LifeTopix. Specifically, LifeTopix allows you to define these items by Appointments, Bill Payments, Events, Dated Notes, Occasions, Medications, and Activity/Wellness. By simply accessing LifeTopix’s Calendar View, tapping the plus sign, choosing Quick Add, and selecting one of the options, you can choose to create dated items such as Trips, Visits, Attending Events, Hosting Events, and Occasions.

LifeTopix gives you a variety of options for Next Actions. You can choose to use reminders, tasks not associated with projects, or to-do lists to organize items that only require one step.

Waiting for Items

At times, completion of your tasks might depend upon the completion of a different task by a family member, friend, or colleague. Or, perhaps, you’ve delegated your tasks to someone else. This is when Waiting For items come into play. LifeTopix handles these items by allowing you to add owner(s) to a task as shown in the following screenshot.


You can view all tasks for each person through the People + Services topic. It’s a good idea to create a LifeTopix Group for contacts to which you frequently assign tasks for easy access.

Context Tags

When using the GTD method, it’s necessary to consider the context of your captured items. The context defines how and where the item will be completed. How defines the tools, such as @laptop and where defines the location, such as @home.

In LifeTopix, contexts are completely configurable to meet your needs and items can include zero or more contexts. You can configure tags in the My Contexts view, which is shown in the screenshot below. You can also access all the items defined with these contexts directly from this view.

GTD Contexts LifeTopix

Reference Materials

Reference materials are items that aren’t actionable that include data and files, which may or may not support your projects. LifeTopix allows you to associate several types of objects with projects — allowing quick and easy retrieval.

With LifeTopix, you can associate Checklists, Bookmarks, Local and Online Documents, Audio, Photos, Video, Notes, Expenses, Services, and Shopping items with Projects, as shown in the following screenshot. This eliminates the need to file these items into physical paper folders and files using large filing cabinets.


And with LifeTopix, you can back up your data to Dropbox™ or other services, allowing you to feel secure about your data. In addition, LifeTopix supports Google Drive, Dropbox™, SkyDrive™, and Evernote™ — allowing you to access files or notes from these services in context with your projects.

Review and Do Phases

A future post will discuss the Review and Do Phases in depth, but keep in mind that when you choose actionable items to complete when you review your action lists daily, you can simply set the Due Date to the current day — with or without a specific time. If you choose not to include a time, keep in mind that your calendar will consider a task without a date as an all-day event, which results in a blocked out day to others viewing your shared calendar.

When you’ve added a due date, the Agenda view will show all the tasks in a list view that are due on the current day. The following screenshot shows the resulting Agenda view after tasks have been given due dates.


Take note that the items that you view on the Agenda view are completely configurable by you. you can choose to show or hide Device Reminders, Appointments, Bill Payments, Events, Expenses, Notes with Date Tags, Occasion Reminders, Projects, Quick Inbox Items, Checklists, Reminders, Shopping Items, Shopping Lists, Tasks, Trips, Visits, Health Stats, Medication, Nutrition, Activity, and Wellness.

More Information

GTD is a great system for managing your busy home and work life. If you’d like to know more about best practices using LifeTopix for GTD, refer to the following posts:

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Prioritizing Tasks in LifeTopix
Best Practices for Getting Things Done with LifeTopix Categories and Contexts
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Capture and Collect
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Processing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Doing Phase
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly Review

Your Turn

We enjoy hearing from you. Please share your best practices for using LifeTopix.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

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.


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 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 or find LifeTopix or MyAgenda at the Apple App Store in the Productivity section. Thanks for Watching.

More info at the Apple App Store:



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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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:


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.


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. 

Video Blog: Raise Your Productivity to a Whole New Level

LightArrow believes in providing solutions that naturally support the way people think about the information in their lives — that’s why we’ve created LifeTopix.
“Every once in a while a product comes along that raises your productivity to a whole new level. And so it is with LifeTopix.”

Watch the LifeTopix Video

Life­Topix is a complete productivity app for personal organization. Manage your calendar, tasks/to-dos, projects, notes, files, shopping, finances, household services, people, assets, events, travel, education, health and much more – with a 9-view dashboard, customizable categories and context tags. It works seamlessly with popular online productivity tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs/Drive, Evernote, Toodledo, and other best-in-class applications.

You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.

Organize Holiday Gifts and Black Friday Shopping With the LifeTopix App

With just about a month away from the holidays, this is a great time for getting your holiday gift lists together. Whether you have a whole house of elves to buy for or if you’re just making a few purchases, the LifeTopix app can help you get it all organized. The end result? A magical holiday that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. And if you’re braving the Black Friday crowds, no time is better than today to pick up the LifeTopix personal organization app at the App Store, while it’s promotionally priced at 99 cents.

This post was created using the next update of LifeTopix that will be available within the next few weeks. It gives you a sneak peek into our enhanced shopping features; however, the LifeTopix Shopping topic provides great value today for creating shopping lists, creating gift lists, and tracking received gifts — all in context with everything else you do in your life.

Configuring Sellers in LifeTopix

Before you get started creating your holiday shopping lists, you should configure a few sellers in LifeTopix from where you frequently purchase items. LifeTopix works with your iOS Contacts so I recommend starting there. If you’re using iOS 6, a quick way to add your favorite stores is to go to your iOS Maps app, and then enter the name of the store in the search field. When the store is found and displayed, tap it. And after the store’s page displays, tap Add to Contacts as shown in the following illustration.


This way, all the location information is saved, and LifeTopix can leverage it for shopping when you add a seller via Shopping -> Configure Sellers in LifeTopix. You can see the information for sellers in LifeTopix by viewing the illustration below.

Configure Sellers

Once your sellers are configured, you’ll be able to associate them to shopping items in LifeTopix. This will be convenient when you’re planning your shopping trips.

Configuring Products in LifeTopix

One you’ve configured your sellers, you can start adding the products that you frequently buy or that you’ll be planning to buy during the holiday season. Take note —  you can select multiple sellers for a product, allowing you to choose the best seller depending on location or other factors. To configure products, go to Shopping -> Configure Products, and then click the Plus Sign. An example of a product is shown in the following illustration. 

Configure LifeTopix Seller

Associating bookmarks and photos is especially helpful for products. You can link websites with product information or photos of the gifts you wish to purchase.

Organizing Gifts for Others

A master gift list with the gift recipients; the products you want to buy; the prices for each gift; and also any tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, and files (such as photos) is essential for the organized gift giver. LifeTopix makes creating these master lists simple. To get started, go to Shopping -> Gifts for Others, and then click the Plus Sign. From there, you can set this information as shown in the following illustrations.

LifeTopix Gift

Once you’ve set this information, it’s added to your master gift list and each of these items can be automatically added as shopping items by using the green down arrow and tapping Create Shopping Item as shown in the following illustration.

LifeTopix Shopping Item

After you’ve finished your master list, and you’re ready to start shopping, you might wish to create a shopping list because it will provide a total cost and also show you the stores in a map view, which will help you plan your shopping trips. Moreover, you can collaborate on these shopping lists with your friends or family via email or social meda.

Creating Shopping Lists and Wish Lists

Shopping lists have always been a key component of LifeTopix. They help you keep track of the things that you buy at the supermarket, hardware store, or any other retail establishment. When the holiday season arrives, shopping lists are even more important to keep you organized and sane. In the following example, I’ve created two shopping lists. The first one is my “Christmas List,” which includes the gifts I’m planning to purchase for others. The second list is my “My Christmas Wish List,” which includes the items that I would like purchased for me. Creating shopping lists and wish lists is a great way to ensure all your family members and friends get what they really want. And collaborating with others ensures you don’t buy the same gift for Sally or Uncle Joe.

LifeTopix Shopping Lists

In the upcoming update, we’ve introduced a split screen for adding your shopping items to your lists, as shown in the following illustration. This makes adding items even easier than before.

LifeTopix Shopping List

Also take note that you can view the total cost of all your items if you configure the cost for your shopping list items, as shown in the following illustration.

LifeTopix Shopping Lists

Keep in mind, in LifeTopix these lists can be shared via email and then opened on the recipients’ iOS devices and used within LifeTopix. Encourage your family members to use the sharing capabilities shown in the following illustration to share their wish lists with you. You can open the lists directly from your email in LifeTopix by tapping and holding the attachment in the email message, and then tapping Open in LifeTopix.

LifeTopix Share Gift List

Because LifeTopix Shopping is one of 12 connected life topics, you can see your shopping trips on your master calendar if you’ve set a due date. This will help you plan accordingly, depending on the other commitments that you might have.


Planning Your Shopping Trips

After you’ve created your shopping lists, and you’re ready to start shopping, location services can help you maximize the time that you have. If you’ve set an address for your sellers as described above, you’ll see the sellers on your map and the products shown in a list below the map. This will help you plan the most efficient route for your holiday shopping trip.

We hope this helps you get started with the shopping season. Good luck and happy holidays!

LifeTopix Takes the Horror Out of Event Planning

Halloween Party - LifeTopixOne of our LifeTopix users recently asked about using appoint­ments versus events, and how the iOS cal­en­dar comes into play. In this post, I’ll show you how events and appointments differ, and how they work with your iOS calendar. I’ve also included a few tricks and treats to help you plan your next party — just in time for your kids’ Halloween festivities.


LifeTopix Events and Appointments, and iOS Events

In Life­Topix, an appointment is a doctor’s visit, meeting, lunch meeting, or other lightweight scheduled item. A LifeTopix event is something more involved, such as a wedding, birthday party, open house, etc. Unlike appointments, events allow associations with other items, such as tasks, checklists, files, etc.. We hope this helps you choose when to use appointments versus events in LifeTopix.

The iOS calendar refers to items on your calendar as “events.” These items are accessible in views in LifeTopix such as What’s Next and My Calendar. If you wish, you can easily convert these items to visits, attending and hosting events, projects, or trips. The easiest way to convert these items is to tap and hold down on the appointment from the LifeTopix Home view, then select the type of item for conversion. The following screenshot shows an example of the conversion.

Convert Appointment

Event Planning

Planning events can be tricky because there’s so many details to track. It’s impossible to keep all these items in your head. Instead of creating paper lists, printing recipes, keeping track of responses, and searching for email addresses and phone numbers, you can centralize everything in your LifeTopix app.

As Halloween approaches, you might be planning a party for the neighborhood children. If you would like a little help with your shopping list and menu selection, we’ve created a Pinterest Board with recipes and a shopping list. To learn more about using LifeTopix to plan your next event, refer to the following presentation. Not only does it explain how to use LifeTopix, but you might also find some tips and ideas for your next party.

Hope this helps you get started with your next fun event. We welcome your event planning stories and questions.