Quarantine Apps Helping to Keep our sanity
At the start of the 2020 lockdown, we tried so hard to be fine upstanding citizens. Don’t watch too much TV, make a meal plan and cook every night, read more, finish up home improvement projects. Make the most of this gift of free time at home, and just wait this whole thing out. We tried. But once April hit, and I had to spend my birthday on Zoom with 23 of my closest friends + family getting blitzed on Winter Jack in tutu and tiara. . . .well, I lost it. And by “it” I mean all resolve to behave like a responsible adult. Our household reverted to a college dorm the week after mid-terms. Adult Swim on the tv til the wee hours, pop tarts for “breakfast” at 2pm, staying in PJs all day. 100% acting like children with no bedtime, ALL the time.
Once we got that out of our systems, we remembered that it’s the 21st century and we have high powered supercomputers in our pockets. We needed to put this technology to use and get our act together. After all, this lockdown might last a month or two more! (early 2020, we were so young and full of hope back then) Now that we’ve got a handle on things and there is hope (and warmer weather!) on the horizon, the temptation is high to abandon all caution and go running around like COVID isn’t still a thing. Don’t do it! Here’s a roundup of the apps that have been getting us through this weird cabin fevery time in history:
I am machine, I never sleep. I’ve always got projects on tap to keep my idle hands busy, but my downstairs neighbor might not be as impressed with my 4am furniture building as I am. That’s where group chats come in! I love my chat channels, but my friends eventually go to bed. Some early, some kinda late, but there’s always a witching hour where everyone I know is asleep 😭 That’s where Discord comes in.
If you’re not familiar, it’s like Slack, but very not for work. Imagine your group text, but global. You have your channels comprised only of your pals, but there are also fandom channels, areas of study channels, special interest channels (hello Enneagram channels @ 2am). You have full control of your notifications and of course, who can contact you. But since Twitter has lost ALL of its cache, Discord is a great option to have a long-distance interaction 24-7.
The very best app for long-scrolling through time and space in general. A vicarious window to anywhere in the world and into anyone’s life you choose. The ‘gram was always going to make the cut of desert island phone apps :-p. In a world where we aren’t walking down the street past cool restaurants and smelling delicious food, or seeing friends who will say ‘I went to this great gelato place the other day’, it’s been the way I see things I want to check out next.
A cute pic of a snowman decked out in brewery merch led us to Bad Seed Taproom. Shots of increasingly ridiculous piles of ice cream and breakfast cereal in mason jar mugs prompted us to visit Surreal Creamery. We chose Valentine’s Day for that adventure. Freezing our butts off enjoying our sundae in the park while a woman screamed HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY at all the couples walking past her apartment window. That’s the kind of magical NYC moment I miss, and would continue to miss without the window on the world that is Insta.
About two months into the lockdown while on a GNC run for my precious iron supplements, we noticed a line (disorganized mini mob) outside of Shake Shack and realized they were open. O_O Fries? Shakes?? Hell yes. Cooking every meal had made us feel all kinds of responsible, but whoa the prospect of some delightful junk food indulgence was tasty.
We didn’t want to join the crowd, but the carbs were calling. So I decided to be really lazy and order online and try to pick up the order. (Lazy + smart = efficient!) A quick scroll through my installed food procuring apps and GrubHub was the only one that had a pickup option. A pickup option and promo codes popping up all over the place? We have a winner. I love the tracker, I love the pickup option and I love ordering food when we’re out running errands. I hit Place Order when we’re in the car a mile away from a place and we just pull up, run in, grab our order and keep it moving. Efficiency is the name of the game.
I’m not an outdoor bunny. Paul will tell you that my favorite outdoor activity is going back inside. But after a few months in lockdown, outside was all we really had. By Autumn, we’d run out of new, fun, well-lit places to walk, and it was too cold (and got dark too early) for my fave haunt *pun intended* Sure there are parks and paths all over NYC, but with the whole state under a stay-at-home order, those places are filled with humans in the daylight hours. If there are two major things we prefer to avoid in life, it’s humans, and daylight hours.
I was just looking for a good boardwalk. I turn into an SEO monster when I want something, and in all my searches for ‘boardwalk’, ‘river walk’, ‘paved park paths’ and whatever else I slapped into Google at 2am, All Trails results seemed to come up with the most detailed information, so the website earned a spot in my mobile bookmarks. Once I got into the habit of starting here when looking for a new spot, I gave in and downloaded the app for a better layout and the ability to save trails to favorites. Yeah, I’m that girl now. I have “faves” in a trail app. 🚶🏾♀️
Restaurants are struggling in this weird locked-down world. I imagine it’s more difficult than it was before to predict demand and order supplies week by week without coming up short or having to throw away food at the end of the day. Food waste is a huge issue in NYC (and in the US in general). This app is a double win because it saves perfectly good food from being tossed and you get delicious surprises from local restaurants on the super cheeeeap (🐣cheep🐣cheep🐣)
TooGood2Go allows restaurants to offer a set number of “surprise bags” for reservation by you, the user, up to a day in advance. The gamble is that you don’t know what will be in surplus at your chosen resto, so the actual contents of your bag will be a surprise until you get there. My secret is: choose a place where there’s nothing on the menu you won’t eat/are allergic to.
Food is how you get us to go anywhere. Trying new food is my favorite sport. I was late to the party on this one, and TBH there isn’t much in our area. This is an NYC-centric app but it comes in clutch when we’ve been out and about all day and realize we don’t feel like cooking when we get home. Pop open the app, choose a restaurant between us and home that offers pickup within the hour & dinner is sorted! (also applies to breakfast, munchies, pastry. . . . .kinda wanna pick something up right now)
I’m of the mindset that only boring people get bored. I collect new hobbies like Funko Pops. So it pained me to come to the realization mid-January that I was bored. -_- Luckily I have a ton of hobbies that can always use a bit of fine tuning to expand. For my cousin’s birthday I went on a bit of a Blick bender and sent her a package of awesome art supplies. I want her to know her cool cousin in NY (at least I hope that’s the title in her 11 year old mind lol) is proud of her skills and encourage her to draw every day. I included a set of 100 alcohol markers, and I grabbed one for myself! Because I LOVE sets of anything in lots of colors. (helloooo 36 fineliner pens I use for every day list-making) . . .then I remembered that I can’t draw.
Enter Skillshare! So many of the YouTube vids I was watching ended with the host offering a code for a free 14 day trial. So eventually I gave it a shot. There I found such detailed instructions on learn shading and blending with my new markers! Each course is broken up into bite sized lessons so learning a new skill feels extremely doable. Especially for folx like me with the attention span of a squirrel. When I see the total course time of an hour I think, OK let’s give this a try. There are dozens of categories, and you can save courses in lists to keep yourself organized.
At $32 monthly, Skillshare is about the same price as Udemy, Coursera or Masterclass; but if you can find a promo link (hint check out their Instagram) for 3 months free, the yearly cost is $99 which is a steal.
Last March, I was SO amped for a few months working from home. I felt like sitting in the office all day and never packing my lunch was keeping me above my optimal comfort weight. Now I was free to work out whenever, ride bikes, take long walks. Yaaaaas! -_- apparently, noooooooo. September came and went, and all of a sudden it was way too cold for me to go walking anywhere. My downstairs neighbors do weird things like go to sleep. So my preferred workout time of 11pm seemed a bit rude.
These ads for barre challenges and 30 day yoga challenges kept popping up on my Insta feed. They piqued my interest. But then I saw Shay Mitchell (or as I know and love her, Stella from Dollface) demonstrating my 2 workout modes. Badass, and OnMyAss 🤣 SOLD!
Offering a 14 day free trial, I figured I’d cancel at the end of the trial. Nothing to lose. Nope. By day 6 I was hooked. No more hunting for a fun video on YouTube. No more endless scrolling for a vid that’s 10 mins, because I need to work out, shower, and be all put together again for a Zoom meeting in 45 mins. OpenFit actually includes an entire series called 300 Seconds. All of the workouts are exactly 10 minutes. Click a workout and go. I respect a one-click operation. There’s a wide range of styles, training concentrations (cardio, weights, abs, booty, ballet, you name it!), and even live walking/jogging challenges. Those really feed my competitive streak.
Did I miss anything? What apps have been saving your sanity this past year? Let us know so we can download them ASAP!