What colouring-in and expense management have in common

I’d like us to take some time for a little self-reflection. Some time to relax and let the stresses of the day drift away. I’d like us to do some colouring in, writes guest blogger Jamie Mitchell. Yes, I said colouring in. But don’t worry, you won’t have to get out a pick yourself up a colouring book and some pencils (even though colouring books for adults are a thing). All you’ll need to do is take a trip over to the App-store on your tablet or smartphone.

Released in December 2016, our latest app of the month enables you to indulge in the relaxing activity of colouring. Created by a team in Slovenia and one of the winners of the 2017 Apple design Award, we give you Lake.

Designed for adults, the satisfyingly simple interface and eclectic collections of stunning artwork – from handpicked Instagram artists – add to the therapeutic nature of taking some time to do something creative and personal.

You are also able to connect with friends and even the illustrators, sharing your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media with the custom sharing bar.

A quick walkthrough
If your device sits comfortably in your hand, you’ll have no problem with this app. The controls are very easy to pick up – using one finger to add colour, and two fingers to zoom or move around the screen.

Lake’s intuitive colour wheel rotates on two axes, allowing you to seamlessly pick both shade and brightness without having to adjust the way you hold your phone/tablet.

What would a colouring app be without a satisfying way of getting colour onto the page? Lake offers a selection of methods, from an acrylic style brush, spray-can (my favourite), flowing watercolour, or filling whole sections with the paint can. All of which come in a variety of sizes, and any mistakes can be easily corrected with the undo button or eraser.

Now, the one major feature that sets Lake apart is the ‘colour in the lines’ option. Clearly displayed at the top of the screen, it can be toggled on or off. Because, even when using an Apple Pencil, the best of us have trouble keeping in between the lines at one point or another.

What’s the cost?
This app is free to download, and you will receive a new drawing daily (for the first 60 days), with the option to subscribe weekly (£2.99) monthly (£7.49) or Yearly (£37.99) for all the collected illustrations. If you’re unsure, Lake does offer a 7-day trial with access to all their content. Or, you can also choose to support a particular artist, by selecting their collection of work (£2.99).

User experience
As a tool designed to relax with and get away from it all, limiting yourself to one picture a day is useful for not allowing this app to become a distraction or a reason to procrastinate.

Doing something creative is a fantastic way of getting the mind working and ideas flowing. But, doing something that strikes a balance between a simple, yet creative task is perfect. Not so easy that it becomes boring, but not so complicated that it becomes frustrating.

As rudimentary as this sounds, it has been shown that colouring-in has a meditative effect and taps into the practices of ‘mindfulness’. Personally, I find that I can overcome a problem far more easily if I have taken the time to unwind and return to it with a fresh and unburdened mind.

Prevention is better than cure
I like apps like Lake, they are a way to escape from the stresses of the day and relax your mind, but there are also apps available to make your life less hectic in the first place.

Of course, you’ll have time to work with Lake because of the time you’ve saved by using Solo Expenses – another de-stress app in its own way, because it makes the headache of expense management go away. With its cloud based expense management software, worrying about expense reports are a thing of the past. There when you need it, Solo Expenses is a must have for any sole trader (the people it was created for in the first place). Mind you, it’s grown since then, and offers expense management solutions for any kind of business, up to and including corporations with thousands of employees. Check out the packages here.

All the features you need are there at your fingertips, and are ready to grow when you are. Explore the Business Owner or SME packages to start exporting reports to your accountant or inviting employees to join. Plus, like Lake, Solo Expenses gives you a free trial of its two smaller business packages, allowing you access to all of its many features, but for 14 days at no cost!

The intuitive design and automatic expense processing systems make this business expense tracker app both easy to use and cost effective ­– reducing the time it takes to claim and approve expenses. And that gives you the flexibility to do something therapeutic, reboot and come back refreshed…