Plan for the worst, and be pleasantly surprised when things go better than expected.
Is this your approach to life?
Most of us know planning and preparation are important, yet it’s easy to forget them when we’re busy responding to life’s everyday demands.
Take retirement, for example. All workers look forward to retirement, but less than half (PDF) have estimated the amount of money they’ll need to live on well after they stop working.
Murphy’s Law tells us anything that can go wrong will, so planning goes beyond anticipation of normal circumstances to being ready for worst-case scenarios. For instance, what if most of your retirement savings are in the stock market, and it crashes?
These eight apps will help you anticipate, plan for, and deal with situations gone wrong. From travel to medical injuries, and many occasions in between, use tech to beat Murphy’s Law, and you’ll sleep sounder at night.
After all, studies have shown (PDF) that future planning increases life satisfaction by providing a sense of control.
Health Aid: American Red Cross First Aid (Free)
What if someone you love, or even a stranger nearby, began to choke or showed signs of a heart attack? Would you know what to do?
The American Red Cross is the international authority on disaster response, and now you can keep their know-how in your pocket. With instructions for treating common problems like bleeding to more severe ailments such as burns, this app will help you beat Murphy’s Law with swift and appropriate action in any emergency.
There’s even a “Prepare” menu so you can prep before disaster strikes. Read up on topics like chemical emergencies, droughts and earthquakes. You’ll feel calmer when you know you’re ready for whatever life — and Murphy’s Law — throws at you.
Download: American Red Cross First Aid for iOS | Android
Computer Crash: Backblaze ($5 per month)
Can you think of anything worse than being unprepared for a tech emergency? How about losing your computer and everything on it? It’s more likely than you may think, as laptops have a 5-10% chance of getting lost or stolen within three years.
Whether you lose a trove of photographic memories on a personal laptop or sensitive information on a work computer, the loss can be equally devastating. Prepare for this worst-case-scenario with Backblaze cloud backup.
Once installed, Backblaze backs up your files without slowing down your computer or drawing any attention to itself. There’s no limit to its storage capacity, and it will automatically copy all of your documents, photos, music, movies and other files. The peace of mind alone is priceless, but the actual cost isn’t much more than a fancy coffee drink.
The personal backup costs $5/month after a free 15-day trial. Business users can pay $50/year per computer. There is also a new option, B2 Cloud Storage, aimed at developers and IT professionals. For $0.005/GB a month you get unlimited storage, but pay only for what you use.
Password Woes: LastPass (Free)
The only thing worse than losing all your data is losing access to it because you can’t remember your passwords or the security questions you chose months, or years, ago.
A lot of people try to remember their passwords by using the same one for most or all of their password needs, but this isn’t good, either. If a cyber thief figures out your trusty formula, they’ll have access to all of your personal and financial information.
Be prepared for password disaster, and prevent identity theft with LastPass. This handy app encrypts and stores all of your passwords, saving you time and worry with every device you use. It will also generate highly secure passwords for you.
You can access most of LastPass’s features in the free version, but a premium membership for $12/year will buy you unlimited syncing on any number of devices, the ability to share passwords with family and friends and greater login security options.
Download: LastPass for iOS | Android
Tax Planning: FreeAgent ($24 per month)
Taxes also loom large in many people’s worst-case scenarios. If you’re a business owner or otherwise self-employed, you may have already felt the pain of being unprepared for tax day. No matter how many receipts you stuffed in a drawer, it all went wrong at the accountant’s office, and you had to cough up an uncomfortably large sum to Uncle Sam.
Sound familiar? Now you can arm yourself against tax disaster with FreeAgent, online accounting software that will help you keep track of how much you owe the government. Once you know, you can set aside the money in advance, so paying your taxes isn’t quite as painful.
You can also share your FreeAgent account with your accountant to streamline the process. Imagine the ease of sharing your records with the click of a button instead of dragging all those receipts and other papers into your accountant’s office. You can try FreeAgent for thirty days without paying anything — then it’s $24/month.
Download: FreeAgent for iOS
Business Risks: Mind My Business ($9.99 and up)
Small business owners will also appreciate the variety of situations this app helps you plan for. From traffic updates and construction alerts to fines & regulations, Mind My Business merges important information with crowd-sourced reporting to help owners avoid the Murphy’s Law of business.
Mind My Business is currently only available in a few cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, but expansion is in the works, and you can put your hometown on the list. A basic account is free, and a pro account, which comes with more alerts and personalized notifications, has in-app purchases ranging from $9.99 to $39.99 per item.
Download: Mind My Business for iOS | Android
Travel Traps: Sitata (Free)
Unexpected situations can be frustrating in a familiar city, but imagine how scary they can be when you’re traveling in a new place. Sitata helps you anticipate and deal with hassles and emergencies in foreign destinations.
Get alerted to tourist traps your fellow travelers have already encountered. Quickly find the nearest hospital and local emergency number. And stay notified of any unexpected events like disease outbreaks, protests and extreme weather.
Download: Sitata for iOS l Android
Safe Cycling: Social Cyclist (Free)
Even travelers in their own city sometimes need help. For cyclists, Murphy’s Law often looks like a pothole that comes out of nowhere and takes their tire out. Avoid this everyday disaster with Social Cyclist, which allows users to report on-road conditions and hazards, kind of like a cycling version of Waze.
The app also allows you to view bike share stations in any city. So when you travel on two wheels in a foreign place, you won’t be stuck looking for a spot to park your bike — or lugging it to your destination in the first place.
Download: Social Cyclist for iOS | Android
Personal Safety: WatchMe911 (Free)
Last but not least, prepare for the possibilities that may arise as you walk home alone. WatchMe911 is marketed toward women, but it could be useful for people of all genders and ages.
This app allows you to preset emergency contacts, such as family and friends, to be notified in case you are injured or otherwise incapacitated. You can set up a timer for an activity like a solo run. If you don’t press a button at the end of your run, your contacts will receive an alert and a map of your current location.
In a scary situation like walking alone through a parking garage or down a dark street, you can enable panic mode, which allows you to dial 911 with one swipe should something happen. You can also set up “I’ve arrived” alerts to reassure your nearest and dearest of your safe return without sending text messages to each person.
Download: WatchMe911 for iOS
Expect the Unexpected and Plan Better
While thinking negatively all the time can lead to adverse health effects, there are some benefits to occasional negative thinking. That is, being a defensive pessimist allows you to use pessimism to manage anxiety and set realistic goals for yourself.
Many people assume that setting low expectations leads to lower performance. However, this is not the case. Instead, researchers find that “the effects of low expectations and high anxiety on performance may be mediated by the strategies individuals use when approaching risky situations.” That is to say, the ways in which individuals use pessimism make all the difference when looking to the future.
I like the way Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, illustrates his preference for an occasional negative view:
“You can try, if you insist, to follow the famous self-help advice to eliminate the word ‘failure’ from your vocabulary — but then you’ll just have an inadequate vocabulary when failure strikes.”
Regardless of whether you prefer to approach your goals with pessimism or optimism, looking to the future and anticipating unexpected roadblocks or setbacks could help pessimists and optimists alike plan ahead.
How will you plan for everything? Do you plan for failure as well as success? How does it work out for you? Tell us in the comments section below!