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Ask an expert - Michael Gershbein, organization guru


Last updated 1/8/2020 at 4:47pm | View PDF

Technology tutor Michael Gershbein will lead the program Change Your Life Online at the Hinsdale Public Library Jan. 29 to show people how apps can support their personal goals. "I hope to get them to think about things that they may not have thought about before," he said. (photo provided)

How can apps help people start 2020 off right?

It's that special time in a year's infancy when people realize the new is lot like the old, and those best-laid resolutions are getting waylaid.

Tools exist to help snatch self-improvement success from the jaws of defeat, however, right in one's palm. Mike Gershbein, founder of the tutoring firm Very Smart People, will impart apt apps for goal achievement at Change Your Life Online from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Hinsdale Public Library.

Gershbein said he seeks key characteristics in apps he recommends.

"Interface, stability, how well it matches the goals you're trying to achieve and a free component," he related.

For interface, he said the spectrum runs from objective-specific (e.g. weight loss) to comprehensive.

"You can either get really targeted with an app or it can do a whole wide range of things," Gershbein said. "I try to cover a wide enough range to get people thinking, 'There are apps that are out there for me.' "

One he recommends is stickK, in which users are prompted to, in effect, put their money where their resolutions are.

"Depending on how well you keep up with them, you many have financial stakes. Like, if you don't achieve it, you have to send your money to charity, and it may be a charity you really don't agree with," he said.

He inclines toward programs that have demonstrated staying power rather than flashes in the app store.

"Many have been around so long that they reach a point of maturity. It almost makes it easier to chose apps with a long history," Gershbein said.

The app Sanvello has been around so long that it recently changed its name (from Pacifica), but its mission has remained focused on supporting mental health.

"It's a mood tracker app. You check in every day, and it kind of keeps a journal of how you're feeling emotionally over the course of the year," he explained.

Gershbein classifies his roughly 50 top apps into seven categories, including inspiration/mindfulness, organization and financial planning. And it's always a bonus when they come with a financial hit.

"I look for apps that have a free component. Some may offer a paid service as well," he said. "With free ones, you can keep downloading stuff."

Brain training apps, he noted, are good for keeping one's mind nimble.

"They have math games and logic games and vocabulary games to keep your brain thinking," Gershbein said.

People of all app-titude levels are welcome at his talk, and attendees are encourage to add to the list.

"I love for people to volunteer their own apps. I'm not an expert on every app out there," Gershbein said.

His aim is to awaken people to the profusion of customizable digital assistants available.

"If somebody walks away with one or two apps, that's a success for me," he said. ""I try to make it lightweight and fun. I'm not there to guilt them into anything. People like knowing about all these options in their hands or on their wrists."

So what is the Very Smart People founder's 2020 resolution?

"I don't do resolutions."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 630-323-4422, ext 103


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