My (and hopefully your) Brain on Apps


Treat yourself with these three brain healthy apps

Given that I just wrote a post saying how I’m not a product guy, I figured I’d go ahead and write a post about three awesome apps I use and I think you should give a go as well.

Note: I don’t work for/with any of these companies. I just think they’ve produced apps that are genuinely helpful for brain health. Across the three apps, I currently spend $40 per year. Max I see that going to is $100/year, tremendous ROI for me.

Enough about me, let’s get to the apps.

First up, logo (I’m already happy)

This app, brought to us by Adam Hewett and team, applies years of clinical neuroscience research to build instrumental and natural playlists (no lyrics) to help you get shit done, turn inward or wind down. They have some of their published research on their website, which is pretty cool.

I was introduced to only a week ago, and while I’ve only tried the Focus track so far (and only the web app), I’ve got to say I’m addicted. My theta waves have been jammin’!

I was superflowing Sunday-Monday, without a wink of sleep Sunday night. At times, I was creeping myself out, but I just kept going with it. I was in a hyper-productive flow state, where all I wanted to do was keep cranking out work. The level of audio self adjusts, frequencies vascillate and I feel like I need to join a drum circle somewhere sometime soon.

Now, I’m sure the would not endorse or condone that, nor did my wife, but I was IN THE ZONE, creating like a madman. When I show my wife this blog post, she will know with certainty that I am a madman. Any skepticism I may have had (“can’t I just do this on Spotify?”) was completely eradicated. No, I can’t just do this on Spotify and neither can you.

You must give them a try, and let me know your results. I see this app as having Viral potential, not network effects, but aggressive, experience-driven word of mouth. I’ve told no less than 20 people in the past 48 hours. Back to my wife, she’ll be hearing me pitch this for the next month no doubt.

Confession: I’m listening to right now, could be a long night…

Next up, Calm

focus on your breathing

I’ve been using since December 2015. It’s the only guided meditation app I’ve tried. My wife has also taken it up. I’ve bought it for a couple of friends and recommended it to many others.

Since December 2015, I’ve logged 30h 17m of mindfulness meditation in 155 sessions. I have my streaks and my dry periods, so my consistency is lacking. (e.g,. 18 sessions in February and so far only five sessions in March. Lack of consistency aside, I can’t imagine not having Calm to call on. Without it, my meditation practice would be much more irregular.

Calm has a bunch of 7-day tracks you can undertake: anxiety, sleep, focus, happiness, gratitude, self-esteem. I’ve completed all of those except for stress and sleep (b/c I don’t really sleep anymore now that I have…)

They also have open and timed meditations, body scans and a bunch of other themes for which you can download sessions ranging from 5–60 minutes. Their guide, Tamara Levin, has a very comforting voice and is quite good at getting me to focus on my breath.

Recently, they’ve launched bedtime stories. 30-minute stories read by different narrators. So far, I’ve listened to the Velveteen Rabbit (fell asleep halfway through, success) and The Ugly Duckling (made it all the way through). Cool way to unwind, and doesn’t have to be in bed.

Only thing I wish about Calm is that they had more 7-day tracks. I prefer the build up as compared to one of sessions. My way around this recently has been to just follow their Daily Calm, which is a featured session every day. Routine is easy (if you adhere to it, which I have not been doing): go into a room with a door, shut it, sit down, put your headphones in, open the app, click on the Daily Calm, and be mindful for 10 minutes. Then, go about your day or night. Thanks Calm team for putting out a well-designed, genuinely helpful product!

Closing it out with

Free private journal

My good friend and former Co-Founder Paul Arterburn is the builder of this free private journaling service app. You can read why he built it here. Paul’s a one-man band and he’s produced a very low friction app to adopt and begin writing.

At the beginning of 2017, I set myself a calendar reminder for 3x/week to journal. is how I’m sticking to that commitment. So far, I’ve penned 18 entries in 2017, compared to 14 in all of 2016.

my 3x/week calendar reminder

I get my reminder, go to and click ‘Write’ in the top nav. It opens up a text editor in app and I’m off to writing my #journal (it has tags), which makes it nice and searchable. All entries are encrypted so I have peace of mind that Paul’s not going in their and reading my crazy thoughts.

In the app, I can also see a calendar view that has my entries that I can click right into should I want to revisit. Great tool that’s helping me stay steady with self-reflection. Thanks Paul!

To sum it all app, I’m fanboy’ing on these apps publicly with the hope that you’ll give them a shot. They’ve helped me out mentally for sure, and I am confident they have the potential to do so for you. They’re non-invasive, require a little bit of self-starting and continued effort (except which is basically autopilot) and are really just out there in the vast world of apps to help people out.

If you have some brain apps you love, please share and tell me what you love about them.

Slack convo I had today about vs. Calm

@channel: check out I’m tripping off of it (not kidding).

2 replies
Paul Arterburn [1 day ago] 
@saaslender What are your thoughts between using and something like Calm? Replacement? Using both at separate times during the day?

They seem too similar to both exist in your daily routine. But obviously very different use cases. Personally, I feel really “calm” after 2 hours of flow…so it was somewhat meditative for me to use

Brian Parks [13 hours ago] 
using both differently for sure. What I really like about vs. Calm is its passivity. It’s much harder to proactively sit down and do a 10-minute Calm session (at least for me) as compared to just plugging in and letting do its thing. That said, I use them differently. I sit down with Calm to be mindful, to breathe in a quite room, for a short period of time. With, the session is much longer and I go in with a different mindset (at least for the Focus aspect). I have not tried their relaxation/sleep tracks. Basically, Calm is proactive, guided, more micro-focused and much more time constrained (say 60 mins. max) while is passive, flowing, more macro and longer duration.