Every week on our podcast, The Upgrade, we end by chatting about small improvements we've made in our lives in the past week, things such as quitting sugar, tracking our (excessive) smartphone use, and even soundproofing against upstairs neighbours.
Now we're take it a step further, with a weekly check-in where our entire staff shares what we've done to make life a little bit better over the course of the week. Our first round of weekly upgrades includes an app to minimise tab-hopping, a flurry of Amazon purchases, and a brand new apartment.
Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief
"This week I'm in love with a couple of related Mac apps that make it easy to see what I'm listening to and control my music without leaving whichever window I'm in. I stumbled on an old post in the Spotify community where a user asked for a way to see "Now Playing" info in their Mac menu bar. Paul Young helpfully supplied a link to a little app he wrote called Statusfy that persistently displays the song and artist you're currently listening to at the top of your screen regardless of which app you have open."
User mborgerson built on Statusfy to create TrayPlay, which allows you to control your music from the menu bar as well. Then user kmikiy combined the features of Statusfy and TrayPlay into one app, SpotMenu. I have both Statusfy and SpotMenu installed as Statusfy shows the track and artist info without your having to click anything. SpotMenu tells you what's playing, plus gives you access to Spotify's user interface to forward, rewind or pause songs, but you have to click on its icon to get the info.
To fully experience the splendour of both apps, you need a big screen -- if you're on a 13" MacBook Air using an app with a lot of menus (say, Chrome), Statusfy cedes the menu bar real estate to that application's menus, which is, I suppose, as it should be. On a giant monitor, however, the song info is always visible, which has saved me countless Command-Tabs this week."
Alice Bradley, Deputy Editor
"This week my husband and I signed a lease on a bigger apartment. We have a teenage son, and it was no longer feasible to live with only one bathroom. So we made the leap to a bigger place, with a correspondingly higher rent. This may mean we never get to order takeout again, but man, two bathrooms! It was worth any price."
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor
"My month has been all about Big Upgrades -- I moved into my first apartment sans roommates on the first, and finally installed my air conditioner last week."
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
"This is the dumbest thing but I swear it's working. I keep a full water bottle at my desk, but I still haven't been drinking enough. I realised that by using the little drinking hole in the cap, I was taking small sips. So this week I started unscrewing the whole top off instead, and guzzling like the bottle is a giant glass of water. This successfully tricked my dumb body, and now I'm drinking twice as much."
Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
"I've been writing in a gratitude journal for the past week, and am surprised by how it's already started to shift my perspective. I usually exist in a constant state of mild dissatisfaction, so taking the time every morning and evening to write a few notes about something I'm thankful for has forced me to be less nihilistic and a bit more cautiously optimistic. I've written about how grateful I am to see a bright blue sky, how much I love spending time with my geriatric dog, and how delicious pizza and beer are with friends, for starters. Paired with some meditation before bed, it's helped to centre me and quiet the discourse in my mind."
'Stop pitying yourself, people have it worse, you should be grateful.' You've probably heard this before, and it's some of the most cliché, unhelpful advice around. When gratitude is inspired by guilt, obligation, or shame, that's not gratitude at all. True gratitude is a practical tool that serves a number of purposes beyond the after school special fluff of being thankful for what you have.
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
"I bought a pack of Soylent's Coffeist, and I've been drinking one every day since. The taste is interesting (it's like someone poured a little Yakult yogurt drink into a thick iced latte), but it's a good interesting, and it fills me up big time. I have one in the morning and it's not until about 1:30 or 2PM that I start roaming around for solid food. It adequately caffeinates me, and I like knowing that I'm getting 20 per cent of my daily recommended values for all essential vitamins and minerals just by sitting at my desk and sipping this creamy beverage."
Claire Lower, Staff Writer
"Can a weekly upgrade be something I quit doing? I quit wearing foundation and not only does it save me time, but I have been getting many compliments on how great my skin looks."
You wouldn't know it from looking at my face, but I buy and own a lot of makeup. I don't really wear a ton of it; I just enjoy having it around. I also enjoy shopping online, eliminating the need to go out into the world and interact with other people. These two factors make me the target demographic for Sephora's Virtural Artist, and yet it did not inspire me to buy cosmetics.
Did you make an upgrade of your own this week, big or small? Tell us.