If you’re “app-y” and you know it, tell me why

“What apps do you utilize most on your phone?”

When I decided to answer this Mama’s Losin’ It prompt, I cringed a little bit. I don’t love staring my social media usage in the face(book). I was intrigued enough to pursue an answer, though.

And since the Five Minute Friday prompt is “smile,” I’ll share my top five apps (by usage) and what about them makes me smile (if anything).

Thank you to TNW/The NextWeb for How to find your most-used apps on your iPhone. The article gave two methods for figuring out how many apps you use. I apparently didn’t have “screen time” turned on, so I went with the “battery usage” option.

Here are the results:

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Let’s ditch the home/lock screen and address everything 5% or over:

WFSU

I use the WFSU app for news — first thing in the morning, between editing sessions at work (I don’t like listening to words when I’m editing), and most of the evening if I’m at the computer working. (I used to play CNN for those times, but I had that through DirecTV, which we don’t have anymore, and haven’t figured out how to sign into it again. I have to admit I’m getting a wider variety of topics by listening to public radio than CNN.)

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? Yes (The news itself isn’t always optimistic, but some of the writing and reporting is incredible and many of the non-news shows are fabulous.)

iHeartRadio

The main thing this post is going to do is to back up the fact that I’m a creature of habit. I mainly use iHeartRadio to listen to WQXR while I am editing (before noon). I listen to it for the classical music. I also love hearing the “Know-it-All New Yorker” segment on Mondays, the weather in New York, and all things New York.

I enjoy listening to Stuff You Should Know and sometimes play Coffee Shop Radio at night as I’m reading/going to sleep.

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? Yes Anything about New York makes me smile. The SYSK guys are funny and smart.

Facebook

I use Facebook for the same reasons most people use it, I suppose. Besides the personal reasons, I do use it for some really cool projects I’m involved in, such as the #NYTReadalong and, most recently, Little Steven’s Road Show for TeachRock. (As a side note, the work Steven Van Zandt is doing to help teachers engage students through history lessons about popular music and culture — provided free to the teachers — is incredible. Check it out and donate if you can.

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? Connecting with people I wouldn’t be able to interact with otherwise makes me smile. Being involved in cool causes such as TeachRock makes me smile. Otherwise, Facebook has probably sucked up time I should have been spending in nature or with loved ones face-to-face.

Spotify

Spotify completes the trifecta of “things I listen to on my phone.” (My daughter got me an Alexa for Christmas a couple of years ago. My husband advocated for this so I could “stop tapping around on my phone.” It is SUCH a sign of how I am that I would rather silently tap on my phone than verbally tell a device what I want, but I digress…)

After listening to WQXR on iHeartRadio in the morning, I switch to Spotify after noon. I listen to either jazz, classical, film scores, ambient music or something else instrumental. I also have my own playlist of editing tunes on Spotify. In addition, as another side note, my friends Chryssy and Heather have a podcast that’s on Spotify. You can listen to the episode where I was the guest here.

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? It does in the sense that it helps me get through the day. I’ve also been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat while walking for exercise recently, and that has definitely made me grin.

Twitter

In September, I will have been on Twitter for TWELVE YEARS. Holy cow. Twitter has changed its interface so it’s hard to see how many tweets a person has sent over their Twitter lifetime. I do know I have sent well over 100,000 tweets.

For reasons I outline in the blog post I linked to above, I have met the BEST people through Twitter. I have developed relationships that led to jobs and, in an indirect way, the job I have now. Some of my Twitter work is professional rather than personal.

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? Usually. Like all social media, Twitter has its upsides and downsides. On balance, though, it gives me more smiles than grimaces. (I could also use more followers since I’m at a following limit, so feel free to check my profile out. I’m also very proud of my work account, SBLeaders, and would welcome you to follow it too.)

Instagram

I’m on Instagram as much as I’m on Twitter, so it’s a tie. When I first started on Instagram, I was annoyed that I would see the same exact post on someone’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. That’s still the case, but it has gotten a little less aggravating. I like having to see things through a visual perspective. I dislike the crazy follows from clearly bogus accounts.

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Does it make me smile? Mostly. Instagram has enabled me to see my new niece who was born in March — I can’t visit her yet due to COVID. That alone is reason enough. But in general it does entertain me more than it frustrates me.

What about you?

What apps do you use the most? Do they make you smile or frown?

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

I’m also linking up with Five Minute Friday, for the prompt “smile.”

If you're "app-y" and you know it, tell me why

Music for Editors and Writers

I have come to the conclusion that, no matter how I try to manipulate the situation, Spotify thinks I like two songs when I am seeking “music without words” as I edit. They are:

This song was lovely and conducive to my editing process … the first 1,293 times, but I need to move on!

And … multiple variations of Sheep May Safely Graze.

I need more than a river and sheep as my editing (and writing) background sounds!

The Backstory

I know we all have our preferred background music/noise situations. I prefer audiobooks when I drive, but if I must drive with music instead, it must contain words.

When I’m doing something that gives me a little “space” concentration-wise (i.e., not editing or writing), I tend toward Coffeehouse mixes (although Spotify hasn’t been setting my world on fire there either — I’ll tackle that at a different time).

When I started writing for SmartBrief as a freelancer almost two years ago, the first thing I turned to was the classical station on DirecTV. Then I moved on to WQXR through I Heart Radio. Eventually, I added Spotify to the mix.

Now, though, I’m needing more variety.

Therefore, I turned to my Facebook community for ideas.

Confession: I haven’t tried any of these yet (can you say “stuck in routine”?). In case you are looking for ideas, though, here they are!

BROADWAY!

This was just a misunderstanding on the part of the person who was responding (i.e., they missed the “no words” thing) and recommended Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen songs, but Broadway tunes are rarely wrong as far as I am concerned. As a writer, I have to give props to “Hurricane” from “Hamilton” because a song with the lyrics “I wrote my way out” is ….. me. (Sadly, so is “Words Fail” from “Dear Evan Hansen.”)

Words fail, also, when I need background noise that helps me edit (and write) better also. That’s why these suggestions may do the trick.

Classical

There is debate regarding the degree to which The Mozart Effect helps people be smarter; I know classical music is one of my go-to’s for concentration. These were some recommendations:

Beethoven Concerti (such as the Piano Concerto No. 5/Emperor Concerto).

Handel’s Water Music (such as Suite No. 1 in F Major)

Mozart (such as Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa)

Anything from the NY Times 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music list (such as Mother Goose Suite: The Fairy Garden)

Yiruma (sans the River Flows in You part, such as Prelude in G Minor)

Electronic

By offering a consistent, mellow-toned, and lyric-less soundscape, electronic music can actually improve performance in immersive tasks, while providing a similar boost during repetitive tasks-through increased happiness and efficiency. ~ EDM Tunes.

Dubstep (such as Dubstep Yoga: Clouds of Wonder)

Ulrich Schnauss (such as Ships Will Sail)

Indie Rock/Jazz/Pop

If vocals don’t bug you that much during work, give them a go. Jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, blues, and everything under the sun are really up for grabs here, but remember that “ambient” is the word of the day for a productive session with music playing, at least if you’re engaged in deep work. ~ Sparring Mind

John Coltrane My Favorite Things (such as But Not for Me)

Miles David Kind of Blue (such as So What)

Wade Morrissette (such as Still) (Side note — the music situation in the Morrissette home must have been fascinating (his twin sister is Alanis))

Miscellaneous Choral/Instrumental

“…music that puts you in a positive mood has a positive effect on your performance.” One hypothesis put forth in The Learning Scientists.

Alice Coltrane (such as Transcendence)

Brazilian music (such as Falsa Biana) (note: I was warned this may result in dancing while editing)

Eklipse (such as their version of The Man Who Sold the World)

Choral Music (such as If I Were a Swan)

Gregorian Chants (such as Introit Benedicta Sit)

Jim Brickman (such as Angel Eyes)

Lindsey Stirling (such as Crystallize)

Mannheim Steamroller (such as Traditions of Christmas, especially (obviously) during the holidays)

Max Richter (such as A Catalogue of Afternoons)

Ólafur Arnalds (such as Island Songs V)

Penguin Cafe Orchestra (such as Perpetuum Mobile)

Tibetan Meditation Music (such as Guided Meditation for Violin and Water)

Tosca Radio on Pandora (which the site says includes dub influences, funk influences, “a knack for catchy hooks,” “beats made for dancing,” and “straight drum beats.”

Movie Soundtracks/Film Scores

The Princess Bride Soundtrack

One friend’s general recommendation of “film scores” led me to this great Medium post, My Complete List of Instrumental Movie Scores to Study To, so thanks, Ellana Barrett, for the recommendations. One recommendation from that list, to give you a flavor: Hand Covers Bruise from the Social Network.

Readymade Playlists

My awesome friend Beth of H.O.P.E. Unlimited (Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel (& Exhale) has created her own! Check out Coffee Shop Cowork. Also, check Beth’s business out for your VA needs.

Hearts of Space on Spotify.

“Music to Write By” on YouTube

Silas Hite “Sounds for a Dinner Party” on SoundCloud

Sirius XM Chill

“Theta Music Meditation” on YouTube

Beyond being a “readymade playlist,” this article from Sparring Mind discusses a bit of the science behind music’s effect on productivity and also gives a few excellent suggestions.

Coda

I appreciate everyone’s suggestions!

I incorporated the suggestions into a playlist on Spotify (find it at BGP Editing Tunes). While you’re at Spotify anyway, check out the While You Were Working playlist here. The playlist is a compilation of the songs mentioned each day in the While You Were Working SmartBrief (I’m a contributing editor and would love for you to subscribe by clicking here).

What would you add to the list of great tunes for editors and writers?

Music for editors

Five Minute Friday: PAUSE

Five Minute Friday

Today’s prompt: PAUSE

WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING?

Although my use of all caps here may imply yelling, that’s not exactly my intent.

I am thinking of my father-in-law asking me that when he lived with us.

He didn’t understand my quick day naps (I’m not sure I did either).

Napping has always been something I have needed.

Unfortunately, my tendency to get sleepy at inopportune times (think: meetings, when sitting in the choir loft facing the church) has led to me taking a pause when I least wanted to.

But, being home for the past four years made it a little easier to meet that need for the well-placed brief midday nap without annoying an employer, stealing time from their clock or embarrassing myself by falling asleep in front of a group.

Especially as it relates to the last four years, though, I guess mainly the three years of caregiving, I wonder if the napping wasn’t a response to the overwhelm.

I read someone talk about stress napping a few months ago and I rang true.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing, I thought.

(Although, to be fair, I’ve rarely gotten enough sleep at night so am probably in a perpetual sleep deficit to a degree.)

This article talks about stress napping. I’m not sure its premise applies to me, but it is another piece of (sweet) food for thought.

Side note: I’m listening to the Paus playlist on Spotify because themes matter!

I also often fall asleep before my plane takes off and wake up at landing. I actually love flying, but this pattern started when I was…

***end of five minutes***

…traveling for work while also caring for an infant at home (can we say exhaustion?) and seemed to get even more entrenched after 9/11. Maybe my need to avoid/escape any unpleasant effects of flying is deeper than I think. Maybe I don’t want to chat with my seatmate.

I just know that whether it’s a mental health thing, or a physical need, or some other drive, a pause through a micro-nap is something I seek often.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)