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6 Apps That Can Really Ramp Up Your Study


source // Make a Gif

The age of an impossible compromise between overpriced but beautiful Kikki K diaries and cheap but vanilla Officeworks planners is over. Check out these 6 highly user-friendly apps that can minimise distractions and maximise productivity.

1. Trello / Xccello

I owe this great find to a friend of mine who follows technology news religiously. This app comes in two forms: the browser, Trello, and the desktop app, Xccello. Both of them use the same account and are virtually identical. Prior to Trello/Xccello, my itineraries existed solely in a physical diary. Sure, it was satisfying to see the handwritten fruits of my labour. At some point, though, something’s gotta give. In this case, that was my wrist.

In Trello/Xccello, you can create a ‘board’ (let’s title it “University”. Or “Get shit done”. Up to you), and within them, ‘lists’ (you can name them after days of the week, as pictured, or by the subjects you’re studying. Also up to you). And within them, ‘cards’, which are the tasks you must complete for the day. Nested within those lists, you can create checklists. Label the cards with a colour when they’re completed.

Now, what Trello/Xccello have over traditional diaries is their flexibility. If you overestimated how productive you would be that day, you can drag a card to another list. Further, digitising your schedule is always cleaner than physical, which is replete with cross-outs and chaotic arrows--unless, of course, you’re some neat freak. In which case, unlike me, you probably don’t need apps to maximise your productivity.

Get Trello here and Xccello here for free. The app does have paid (mostly) cosmetic features, but none of them are needed to use the app in the way described.

2. SelfControl

source // zapier

Next up is the classic but cruel SelfControl app. Add distracting website URLs to your blacklist, and then nominate the duration of time you’d like for them to be blocked. User beware: once the timer has been activated, neither deleting the app nor resetting the device will allow you to access those sites. But if you’re desperate to knuckle down on an assignment due that night, sometimes your only option is to go cold turkey.

Get SelfControl here for free.

3. Mindnode

source // mindnode

Popularly known (i.e. BY ME) as ‘Mindmap Heaven’, Mindnode is a mindmap-obsessed law student’s best friend. Other mindmap apps, like Inspiration, are expensive (because, to my knowledge, subscription based), clunky and aesthetically dated. Contrastingly, Mindnode is sleek, colourful, and has a soft and modern user interface. As pictured, it has some scheduling functionalities, which means that one could, when creating a set of super summarised notes, map out the elements of a cause of action and mark them off as they are completed. BONUS: Read one of our articles on making mindmaps.

Get it here from iTunes for $9.99.

4. Office Lens

source // office blogs

Microsoft just released Office Lens, a photos, whiteboard, and document scanning app for the iPhone and Android. It isn’t really revolutionary (see: Share Your Board), but its interface is sleeker and it’s made by a trusted company (Microsoft! Do you live under a rock?!) rather than a random third party. It basically scans a document or can snap a picture of a whiteboard and converts the image to text, which can then be exported and opened in Microsoft Office apps if they're installed on your device. It can also be exported to OneNote, saved to OneDrive, sent to the iPhone Mail app or saved as a PDF.

Get it here for free.

5. News Feed Eradicator

source // git hub

Installing a Chrome extension that hides your Facebook news feed seems pretty antithetical to how Facebook should be used, no? Undoubtedly, however, there have been times when you’ve needed to message someone urgently, but then inexplicably found yourself sifting through the banalities of everyone else’s lives, ending up crying about your own instead of studying. Even if you aren’t me, a news feed blocker can disincentivise checking Facebook if there's nothing to really see, particularly if going cold turkey via SelfControl triggers too severe withdrawal. If you do want to check up on your mates, add them all to your ‘Close Friends’ list (‘Friend Lists’ on the left sidebar, and then click ‘Close Friends’. Add away).

With no external download required, you can install it straight from the Chrome website, and after activation, your Facebook will be news feed, and thus distraction free!

6. Slack

source // slack

The problem with SelfControl is that you won’t be able to speak to any of your peers in a group assignment, provided you’ve blacklisted Facebook as well as its messenger site. Similarly, the problem with the news feed eradicator is that inconsiderate people can still message you and ask to hang out (disgusting? My only friend is knowledge, thank you!). On the whole, correspondence can easily get lost in Facebook pollution.

If you’d prefer to take all messaging off Facebook to eradicate all distractions, then get your study group to download Slack. You can create an account and join multiple ‘teams’, within which you can make ‘channels’ or send direct messages to other users in the same team. You can upload files, send pictures, even emoji react to messages using the whole Apple range.

Beyond study, Slack is handy for legal practitioners and society executives alike. It allows you to keep all professional communication in one place, rather than have it entangled in the memes, jokes and juicy gossip that no doubt populates all of your inbox.

Get Slack for free here. The app does have paid features, but none of them are needed to use the app in the way described.

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