004. Apps I Use Every Day

Searching out and trying new apps can be a huge waste of time. Especially when they take so much time to set up and start using well. But finding just the right tool for the job can make things way easier.

Here’s a list of the apps I use on either a daily or weekly basis. Hopefully it will cut out some searching time for you. Are any of these apps needed to live a happy, productive life? Absolutely not. But they do make things incrementally more simple and organized for me.

I should mention, all of these are iPhone apps. I don’t know if there is an Android version for them.

Notes and Documents

Notion – I just discovered notion this year thanks to my friend Kevin Romeo. It’s a note-taking and database app that I’ve started to use as my second brain. I categorize my notes in projects, areas, resources and archives, depending on how often I need them. It’s become my primary way of capturing notes and ideas.

Google Drive – I’ve been using Drive and Google Docs for a decade now. It’s only been this year that I got serious about folders. I went through and deleted a few thousand documents and organized the others into folders that made sense. In many cases I combined the information from several sheets into a single document, and now I’m able to use that information instead of it being lost among the mess. I share music charts with my students by putting them into shared folders and texting them out.

Voice Memos – For songwriting ideas, and vocal exercises for my students. Very helpful to have an easy way to record and send audio quickly. I’ve got about 300 of them sitting on my phone right now that I should weed through soon.


Fons – Probably the most important app I’ve found in the last five years. This app handles all of my music lesson booking and billing. I can send out bulk messages and cancel and reschedule lessons. when needed so easily. My students get text message reminders of lessons, and they can book and reschedule lessons on their own. Every morning I open up this app and just teach the lessons on the calendar. It’s so easy. This has saved me so much time and confusion this year.

Venmo & Cash App – Sending money is way easier now than it was a decade ago.

Social Networks

Facebook & Instagram – With all the time that I’ve wasted on these apps, I’ve wished that I could cut the cord and walk away. But there are a couple of features that are important to me that make these apps valuable, even with the time-drain. Most of my students find out about our lessons and classes through social media, and I want to be able to share and discuss important topics with the community.

To push back against the pull these apps make to dominate my time, I’ve cut down on the number of social networks I use. Facebook and Instagram are pretty much the only ones left. I’ve also unfollowed just about everything, and that’s made the newsfeed either empty or uninteresting enough to remind me that I don’t want to be scrolling.


Audible – My audiobook library has enriched my life so much. I struggle sitting down to read a paper book but I love having my headphones in as I do chores or drive. I’ve reread my favorites over and over as I wait for the monthly credits to drop into the account. And the audio version of the Bible is just 75 hours long. Doable in a year for anyone.

Pocket Casts – I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but I’ve gotten through quite a few of the 500 available episodes of The Minimalist podcast. I like that the listening speed on Pocket Casts is in 10% increments, so you can find just the right speed for each show.


BGstats App – I talked about this on my board game recommendation post. I love keeping track of each time we play games together as a family. Finding the next game we want to play is so much easier, since we can look and see what we’ve played recently, and what has been sitting on our shelf for a while.

xkcd: OS – My favorite comic strip. I’ve read all 2707 of them. My kind of humor, and often very educational.


Spotify – You’d think that the music teacher would be the one in the house that uses playlists the most, but my wife actually is the champion of the music in the house. I use Spotify to teach every day though, and having playlists of music for voice, drum, guitar and piano lessons saves a lot of time. I’ve got very few personal playlists. Mostly just one that’s called, “now worship” that includes all the worship music that pushes me towards the Lord for this season of life.

instTuner – Free guitar tuning and pitch pipe app that gets used 50 times a week.

Pro Metronome – Very cheap metronome app that’s surprisingly flexible. This one’s nice because you can save a playlist of tempos to cycle through during an event.

AutoPad – Simple ambient pad loops to use for worship. I would use this more if I could keep track of the silly dongles. I’m still miffed they took the headphone jack away from the iPhone.

There you go! Hope you find a gem.