More Apps for Better Focus and Organization
Students today are more equipped to get better grades and create productive learning environments than ever before. Your smartphone and tablet can be just as much of a learning tool as a textbook.
Use this collection of apps to supplement your learning even when a desktop or laptop is not available. A smartphone or tablet can do so much more for you than just organizing notes or keeping track of your class schedule of lecture times, due dates and exams schedules.
Ready your Head with Headspace
Sometimes you need to settle your mind and get your brain ready for the rigors of the classroom and homework. That is where Headspace meditation enters the scene.
The Headspace program is available for Apple and Android devices. You can also use it within a browser on any computer or tablet. The app lets you track your progress and communicate with friends. It even provides you with rewards for completing several days of meditation progress.
Headspace helps hone your ability to concentrate and focus. This sharpens the rest of your cognitive abilities.
One of the key tactics in Headspace is learning to concentrate on the present. You do not let your mind race. You do not let your brain drift to other topics or thoughts, clouding the clarity you need to master your school work.
Headspace does this through a series of small, easy meditation goals that take about 10 minutes a day. The app tracks your progress and shows where you need to improve. This first step is called ‘Take 10 for Free’. You can repeat these exercises as often as you want. You can also apply the meditation skills and continue to chart your progress.
A second step involves subscribing to a large library of meditating options. These sessions range from two minutes to an hour. The entire program exposes you to many hours of continuing meditation activities. A special series lets you focus on health, performance or relationships. Check the app or the website for details on the subscription plans.
Another step is Headspace singles. This program lets you select one-off meditation areas to grow your mindfulness. Sometimes, life get too difficult. That is where the SOS sessions come to your rescue. These are quick fix, quick session meditations to help you deal with approaching meltdown moments.
Brighten Your Brain with Lumosity
Lumosity is a leading app for improving memory and mental alertness. It helps you challenge your brain to improve cognitive reasoning skills. That’s why you need an app that gives you some raw IQ power. These are the building blocks to further sharpen your mind.
The Lumosity app is available for Apple and Android devices. The app plugs you into a series of brain games that improve memory and increase attention span. Scientists partnered with game designers to develop these games to challenge your core cognitive skills. The game catalog includes more than 25 training activities with different levels so your skills do not stagnate.
When you begin using Lumosity, you take a series of three tests that analyze your current skills. This establishes your learning base line. The app tests your memory, your train of thought process and your attention span. You can chart your results compared to others and view where you need to improve. You can then target those areas in the training section.
Your next step is to complete daily workouts that challenge five core cognitive abilities. The games adapt to your skill level. Then you track your scores. Viewing your best and worst performances helps you to gain insights into your training.
Convert Paper Notes to Digital Files
Many classroom instructors still rely on old-fashioned paper printouts to distribute reference information, required reading lists and assignments. Others are more on task with modern technology and display notes on white boards or Powerpoint displays.
Either way, manually entering that information into your computer or note-taking software is time consuming. You often lose essential papers or fail to bring them with you when on the go.
Your smartphone and tablet put a scanner right in your pocket. You can scan the printed copies and create files of information. With the right apps installed, you can take a photo of the display from your seat in the lecture hall.
The software will scan the content and create a file that lets you search the notes or even highlight essential details. Thus, you can keep your documents organized in a space-friendly and searchable PDF document. Depending on the app, you can save the file on your device or send it to your cloud storage.
Use Office Lens to trim or enhance images you capture. The app goes beyond simply taking a photo of the document or large screen display. It makes the pictures of whiteboards and documents readable.
Lens acts as a document scanner with an OCR – that’s optical character reader. It automatically recognizes printed and handwritten text so you can search for words in the images and then copy and edit them.
If you want to avoid using Microsoft’s free Lens product, you can opt for good alternatives available for Android and iOS. For example, Google Drive scans documents and uploads them to the cloud. It is available on iPhones and Android devices.
Two other options are CamScanner – Phone PDF Creator, which includes a free 200 MB cloud storage account, and Genius Scan. Here is a quick rundown on what these two apps offer.
CamScanner uses numerous filters to make your document more detailed or defined. You can back up images to the cloud and use a variety of post-scanning tools, and even do batch scanning. Batch scanning is very useful when you want to scan a series of classroom handouts and keep them in one document file.
The only weakness with this otherwise solid scanner app is its lack of an immage cropping feature. But you can crop with another third-party image editing tool. CamScanner requires a companion app to add annotations to scanned images.
Genius Scan – PDF Scanner lets you quickly scan documents and email them as JPEG or PDF files with multiple pages. You can export your scans to a variety of services, including Box, Dropbox, Evernote or any other cloud service app installed on your Android phone that supports JPEG or PDF files.
Features I love include the smart page detection, perspective correction and image post-processing. Genius Scan automatically corrects the image alignment and imperfect lighting. These two built-in tools are ideal for the kind of rapid performance you use in a classroom or lecture hall environment.