Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

5 Apps That Will Get You Through the Hectic Workday


Meditation and, more broadly, mindfulness have of late been linked to everything from increased creativity to stress reduction. But who has time to pause and assume lotus position amid back-to-back conference calls and an overstuffed inbox?

You may not realize it, but the smartphone that you’re currently using to flip through emails could be the ticket to workday zen. Each of these five mobile apps, either free or cheap, guide you in channeling some inner peace (even if it’s in only five-minute snatches between a board meeting and coffee date).

1. Headspace

What it Does: Tap into this app to learn how to meditate in just 10 minutes a day. It will guide you via podcast through modern meditations on how to get to sleep quickly and easily, how to make your daily crazed commute stress-free, how to take the time to really appreciate your food, and more.

Why I Love It: Headspace makes it easy to set reminders to keep yourself on track and even offers a dashboard to evaluate your progress. Plus, the guided meditation tracks are voiced by Headspace founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, whose British lilt is the perfect antidote to a hectic workday.

2. Buddhify

What it Does: Buddhify provides guided meditation tracks for 14 different activities, from eating and traveling to walking in the city and even working online. Like a gym membership for your brain, Buddhify is specifically designed for busy people who still want to prioritize the health of their minds.

Why I Love It: Designed by a data artist, Buddhify is one of the most beautiful (and easy to use) mindfulness apps on the market. I also like the app’s “solo” mode, which lets you take 10 timed guidance-free minutes to yourself to clear your brain and reset.

3. GPS for the Soul

What it Does: This app, presented by Huffington Post, bLife, and HeartMath, uses your phone’s camera lens to measure your stress levels, then invites you to course-correct through music, poetry, breathing exercises, pictures of your loved ones, and more.

Why I Love It: Anything with Arianna Huffington’s stamp of approval gets my buy-in. In addition, the app’s “breathing pacer” helps regulate your breathing during each meditation, and each guide’s beautiful, relaxing visuals are a nice companion to the written content—especially for visual thinkers like me. Because it’s a Huffington Post-sponsored app, GPS for the Soul also includes access to interesting articles on topics like indecision, embracing quiet, remaining in the present, and more.

4. Happier

What it Does: More of a “social gratitude journal” than a pocket yogi, Happier helps you cultivate those little nuggets throughout your day that make you smile and share them with the wider community to spread the love. You can freely share any happy moment and add it to a collection, whether it’s “getting stuff done,” “being outside,” “learning new things,” “meeting awesome people,” or any category you create.

Why I Love It: Within Happier’s social network, you can “smile” at people’s happy moments in your feed, reshare them to your followers, and glean inspiration from users across the globe. My New Year’s resolution a few years ago was to write down one thing I was grateful for every day from January 1-December 31, and while I made it through the journey, I would have loved to use an app like Happier to record and share my thoughts. Being held somewhat accountable by the built-in app community might encourage you to keep recognition of happy moments front-of-mind.

5. Stop, Breathe & Think

What it Does: Created by Tools For Peace, a Pasadena-based organization focused on cultivating compassion and kindness primarily in students, this app prompts you to check in with how you’re feeling—mentally, physically, and emotionally—then dishes up recommended meditations geared toward your current mindset.

Why I Love It: You can track your progress through virtual stickers and learn about how meditation works and why it’s good for you. Plus, the meditation topics to choose from are wide-ranging: being present, gratitude, dealing with change, kindness, equanimity, compassion, and more.

Positive thinking and an earnest approach to managing modern stress can seriously do wonders for your workday productivity and flow. Give it a go!

A logo with "the muse" in white text.