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Wakey wakey work awaits - 5 apps to help kick start your day

Jenneth Orantia
Smarter Writer

Jenneth Orantia is a journalist who has been reporting on tech developments and trends for the last decade

Jenneth Orantia
Smarter Writer

Jenneth Orantia is a journalist who has been reporting on tech developments and trends for the last decade

Even when you’re running your own small business, dragging yourself out of bed every morning can be hard – especially if you’re a night owl and you do your best work when the sun’s down. Here are five apps that will help kick-start your workday.

woman in bed switching off her alarm clock

1. Sleep Cycle

If you always wake up feeling groggy, it could be because you’re in a deep sleep when your alarm goes off. While you’re asleep, your body goes through several phases, and the NREM phase – which goes for roughly 70-90 minutes – is when you’re under the deepest.

The trick to waking up refreshed is having your alarm clock go off while you’re in a slight sleep phase. Sleep Cycle is an app that uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect your movements while you’re sleeping, and it uses that information to wake you up – within a certain time window – when you’re in your lightest sleep phase.

Since much of your day’s productivity can depend on how well you slept the night before, Sleep Cycle is there to help with several tools. A ‘sleep aid’ sound is designed to lull you to sleep, and once you’re firmly in the land of nod, the app records detailed statistics that show how well you slept through the night.

iOS, Android.

2. Morning Routine

It’s happened to everyone: you get a bit too liberal with the snooze button and before you know it you’re an hour late for work. Morning Routine for Android makes it harder for you to hit the snooze button by requiring you to scan the barcode of something in your house in order to snooze the alarm or turn it off altogether.

This is something you set up yourself when you’re configuring the alarm for the first time, but it could be a cereal box in the kitchen, a CD on your bookshelf or even something you have in your car (if you want extra punishment). The idea is that you have to force yourself out of bed if you want to turn your alarm off, making it less likely you’ll go back to sleep.

You can take the alarm sequence further by setting up Morning Routine to open an app or webpage after each step. You could, for instance, have it set up to automatically open Umano (see gallery below) after you snooze the alarm so you can lie in bed listening to the latest news headlines, and then have it open your email, task list or calendar when you turn your alarm off altogether.


3. CARROT Alarm

CARROT Alarm is perfect for those that need to be physically manhandled out of bed every morning. It fancies itself as an artificially intelligent alarm clock and gives you a new set of ‘challenges’ that you have to complete every morning before it’ll stop nagging you. This includes things like double tapping the screen ‘to release a deadly neurotoxin’, shaking the phone to ‘dispose of a dead body’, and pinching the screen to ‘bypass safety protocols’.

It’s equal parts amusing and annoying – the latter more so when you’ve just woken up and have to listen to the app’s pseudo robotic voice. It’s certainly more fun to use than a traditional alarm clock, especially since it adds gamification to your morning wakeup routine by letting you ‘level up’ and claim rewards like new songs to use as the alarm tone and additional features like bedtime stories.


4. Umano

Umano is a nifty service that curates stories from around the web and has them read out by professional voice actors.

Unlike voice to text services that sound harsh and robotic, the human voices in Umano make it a great service for listening to news stories you’re interested in while you’re in the shower, making breakfast, or on you’re way to work.

When you set-up Umano for the first time, you specify which news categories you’re interested in (such as technology, breaking news, world and politics and lifestyle), and it presents you with a list of stories you can listen to. The features are similar to a traditional music player app, with the ability to create playlists, pause, skip and rewind. You can view the text version of the stories and share the ones you like with your social media channels.

iOS, Android.


You can get a head start on the day’s activities by checking your task list before you leave the house and adding to it where necessary. There are dozens of task management apps available, but remains a firm favourite for its simplicity. You can organise your tasks by list (such as personal and work, or by specific clients or projects), or view them by time (ie. today, tomorrow, upcoming and someday).

Beyond the bare basics like the ability to set time-based reminders and create sub-tasks, you can attach relevant notes and files to each task, and also share tasks with other users. For shared tasks, you’ll receive instant notifications whenever changes are made.

The free service includes seamless syncing of your tasks across all devices. Upgrading to the paid service adds features like location-based reminders (so you’ll see a reminder to buy milk when you’re near the grocery store, for instance), recurring tasks and passcode protection.

iOS, Android.

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