July 22, 2018 | ° F

Apps to Rule Your Life? Not a Bad Thing!

Photo by Edwin Gano |

TL;DR This list provides you some of the most useful applications to improve your productivity/efficiency and help you focus on things that matter in life.

Late last summer it finally dawned on me that I had spent a lot of time thinking about technology and was researching ways to become productive, but I had never really applied these tools in my own life.

I was constantly stressed out through most of my high school career — forgetting my homework or a quiz was not an anomaly. I would procrastinate, but ironically, I also found that I rarely had time to spend on entertainment.

Enough was enough. I promised myself that I would not have these problems in college.

Cut to the present, and I'm free from most of these problems. I'm calm and rarely stressed out, because I know exactly what I need to do.

I have time to spend on things that I like, but I don't have to sacrifice my grades. By increasing my efficiency, decreasing my stress and making more time, I found I was happier.

It takes initiative on your part to make sure that you apply these tools but it's worth it.

1. For keeping track of your tasks: Todoist, Wunderlist, or a comparable to-do app

If you don't know what you're doing (or what you have to do) in the day, then you're already at a disadvantage. Even if you have a pretty good memory, it only takes one relatively stressful day to bring your mental system to a halt. So I store all of my tasks on Todoist, which syncs to all of my devices (they have an app for iOS, Mac OS X, Android, Windows, Chrome and a Web version). I prefer the aesthetics of Todoist, but Wunderlist has some better free features, so it comes down to your personal preference.

2. For keeping track of your events: Google Calendar

From your friend's birthday to your calculus midterm, calendars are an effective tool to manage your life. An electronic calendar is simple to update (you can do it with your phone) and is easier to manage (you can usually see a day, week and month view) than a non-electronic version. I prefer Google Calendar because almost every calendar app (including Sunrise and Apple Calendar) can sync with it, and it's easier to open in a new tab (just sign in to calendar.google.com with your Google account) if all else fails.

3. For keeping track of your documents: Dropbox (or a comparable cloud-storage service)

Apps like Dropbox allow you to host your documents online, so as long as you have access to the internet, you can access that assignment you forgot to print out earlier. There are other cloud storage services out there, like OneDrive, iCloud, Box, Copy, Github, Google Drive, etc. that you can pick from, each with their pros and cons. Or you can combine services and maximize your storage by using multiple apps. You can also sync between cloud services with a website like Mover.io.

4. For keeping track of time and maintaining focus: A Pomodoro Timer App, like Forest or ClearFocus and WasteNoTime (add-on for your web browser)

If you find yourself on Buzzfeed or Youtube after 5 min of working on your Expos essay, these apps are essential for you. The Pomodoro technique realizes that you can't pay attention to your work for long stretches of time, and provides you with a set amount of time (~5 min) to relax (you can exercise, make a sandwich, or check the news) after you work for a defined set of time (~25 min). However, if you're having trouble holding yourself accountable to this technique, even with an app, then WasteNoTime may help you even more. WasteNoTime is an add-on for your internet browser that restricts you from going to the entertainment websites that you may waste your time on.

5. For keeping track of your notes: OneNote, Evernote, Keep or a comparable note-taking app

From writing outlines to your next ingenious idea, a note-taking app, such as OneNote, is wonderful for making sure that you never lose your work. You can even upload pictures (of say, your Math notes), and OneNote and Evernote have handwriting recognition (provided you write somewhat legibly) so that you don't have to scramble to find those notes before your final.

6. For keeping track of your flashcards: AnkiDroid

The premier app for holding your flashcards, it can be used with almost any device (and the web), synchronizes between devices and is useful if you love using flashcards to memorize definitions, formulas, etc.

7. For keeping track of your habits: Habitica

Habitica puts you in charge of your own role-playing-game (RPG) character, and you can benefit (or not) based on your habits, which it tracks. It takes some effort and honesty on your end, but it's a fun way to help you make good habits and break the bad ones.

8. For keeping track of the Internet: Pocket

If you're working, but find that there's an interesting article or video that you want to check out later, just pocket it and you can see it later when you are free.

9. For keeping track of your grammar: Grammarly (add-on for your web browser)

There are times when Microsoft Word's Spelling and Grammar check don't catch all of your errors. Grammarly finds many of these commonly missed-by-Office errors and provides useful corrections with explanations. This can be especially helpful for essay-writing.

Siddhesh Dabholkar

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