Most of us have a smartphone with us at all times. They connect us to family, friends and the world, ensuring that we never have a dull moment.
But while these incredible devices can be a great distraction – with many schools and governments trying to ban them from classrooms – they can also empower us to study smarter.
This guide to apps for smarter study will help transform your smartphone into an essential educational tool. And if you’re reading this on your smartphone, you can install the apps as we go!
Most of us have a favourite app that gobbles up our time, whether it’s Instagram, Netflix or Fortnite. Nobody’s judging, but it can be challenging to avoid these tempting distractions when it’s time to study. Depending on your smartphone usage, there are a few apps that will help you avoid distraction and study smarter.
Freedom is one of the most popular apps for cutting yourself loose from the pull of digital distraction, working for iPhones and Androids as well as your Mac or Windows computer. That means you can set it up once and apply those settings to all of your devices.
Basically, Freedom allows you to block apps, websites and even the entire internet for the duration of your study time. You can schedule these time blocks so that you won’t have to rely on your willpower to turn it on. That way, you can prevent distraction before it pops up to tempt you.
Best of all, because you can get quite specific about what you block, you can be sure that important calls and messages can still get through.
Alexander Steinhart is a tech company founder who wanted to encourage businesses to stop the flow of work emails after hours. He created Offtime for Android and iPhone to inspire us to look up and reconnect with our family and friends – and to help us to do that for longer than 15 minutes without looking at our phones.
Unlike the ‘do not disturb’ setting on your phone, Offtime lets you block specific apps, so you can still have access to the apps you need, as well as emergency calls and messages.
As the CEO of RescueTime, Robby Macdonell is singing from the same hymn sheet as Mr Steinhart. He says more than half of us are interrupted by our phones frequently, every single day.
RescueTime also syncs across phones and computers but starts by analysing how you use them. Once you understand how you spend your time – and how much of it – you can use the app, website and internet blockers to claw back some of your precious time. The ongoing insights from the time analysis can help you to adjust and improve your timetable over a period of time.
Anyone who has ever procrastinated will know that preventing procrastination is not merely about avoiding distraction. Procrastination can strike in the middle of an activity, particularly when you encounter a challenge, or if you’re getting tired. An alternative thought pops into your mind, and before you know it, you’re cleaning behind the fridge instead of studying for your next exam!
Procraster is your friend in your pocket when procrastination strikes. It’s built around what Procraster claims are the biggest causes of procrastination:
- My task is too big
- I don't know where to start
- I've made a mistake
- I have to finish; and
- I have to be perfect.
You choose the cause that resonates most with you and Procraster will provide advice with tips and steps to help to clear your brain fog and get things moving again. The app also has a timer and task lists to help break down bigger jobs into something more achievable.
Procraster is only available on iOS for iPhone and iPad.
Improving time management
One of the greatest challenges in life, particularly when you are starting or returning to study is time management. That’s despite all of us having access to multiple calendars, automatic reminders and timers on our smartphones and computers!
At the age of 20, Jamie Clarke was a frustrated student who decided to create an app for smarter study.
My Study Life is like a project management tool built around university life. So, rather than scheduling tasks through a sales funnel, or being handed off to another staff member, My Study Life enables you to break down assignments into relevant tasks and schedule classes during semesters.
Because it’s designed purely for smarter study, it will probably help you to avoid distraction and prevent procrastination as well. My Study Life syncs across Android, iPhone, Windows and Mac.
Making study stick
With the incredible potential in our powerful smartphones, you might be surprised to find that there aren’t more apps dedicated to the actual process of learning. Luckily there are a few apps for smarter study that are concerned with getting the knowledge into your brain – and keeping it there!
As a college student in South Africa, Rebekah used StudyBlue to study smarter with her phone. StudyBlue is a collaborative learning app built on flashcards. The app gives you access to over 500 million flashcards and also enables you to upload your own information to flashcards. That means you can hone in on your own learning, as well as broadening your research by using the flashcards of others.
Before you download the app, you can test out their flashcards and ask almost any question of their library of over 500 million answers.
With StudyBlue, Rebekah says she was able to study smarter anywhere in the world, “even when no wi-fi was available.”
GoConqr is another app that takes a crowdsourcing approach to learning. Companies, academic institutions, and students have helped to build a digital library that can be at your fingertips. These resources include flashcards, flowcharts, notes, slides, quizzes, and mind maps which can be searched, collated and organised in a way that suits your learning style.
GoConqr also enables you to connect with like-minded students around the world, so no matter where or when you choose to study, you can always have a study buddy.
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