The options of passing time by reading a great book or talking to the person sitting next to us have been replaced by technology, which has become more advanced within the last decade. We are always on our phones or our laptops, whether we use them for texting our loved ones, playing virtual games, scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, or for watching Netflix and even watching videos on YouTube. Technology has become such an essential tool in our lives that sometimes we are unaware of how distracting it can truly be.
As we approach the end of the academic year and start to prepare for final exams (and summer! It’s only three weeks away!!!!), we should not force ourselves to go completely off of the grid. Instead, we should be finding ways to use our phones as tools to boost our productivity. Here are some apps that I have been using that have made life as a student so much easier.
Edo Agenda (Free, Optional Premium Membership)
Meet your new favorite planner. I found this app before Thanksgiving Break, and it has almost replaced my physical planner completely. If you have ever heard of a Bullet Journal, think of this app as the digital version. What I find the most helpful about this app is that my to-do lists, events, and everything else that I need to stay organized is easily accessible on my laptop.
This app is such a useful tool for when you want to develop or start a new habit, or when you need to set a daily reminder. Use this app to start a streak as an incentive to keep up with tasks or habits. These tasks or habits can be anything from how often you want to workout during the week, your daily water intake, how often you do laundry or even the simplest tasks such as remembering to wear your retainer and brushing your teeth 2-3 times a day. We all have different habits we want to develop or maintain; why not start a streak with it?
Moment (Free, Optional Premium Plan)
Moment allows you to track your phone use. It sends mini notifications throughout the day at a frequency of your choice to remind you of your usage, and it sends a warning if you are near or past your hourly usage limit. It even works in Airplane mode. If you accidentally force quit the app, it continues tracking. I have used this app since February 2016, and this app has helped me stay focused and become less likely to procrastinate by acting an incentive to decrease my phone usage from the previous day. The ability to analyze the insights on your phone usage is as enlightening as it is shocking.
While Moment is a great app for tracking your phone usage, Forest is a great app to decrease your phone usage. With Forest, set a timer, turn off your phone, and let your plant (whether it be a tree, bush, or flower) grow as you turn your attention to the task at hand. If you dare to go to a different app though, your plant will not look good. I find this app particularly useful when studying for midterms, preparing for finals, and even when I know I should not be on my phone such as late at night when I should be sleeping.
If you have the luxury of having a debit/credit card, download Venmo. You can link your bank account or just a card to use on Venmo. Even if your Venmo account settings show the public what your activity is, the amount of money you send/receive as well as the location of the transaction remains confidential. At first, I was hesitant about downloading this app as I felt uncomfortable with the idea of a third-party app having access to my bank account; but, I asked upperclassmen friends about Venmo and they said they have used it so much that it has become a daily necessity. “Oh, you’re ordering take-out? I’ll Venmo you!”
GET, or whatever your school uses for tracking your meal plan, is a useful app for tracking dining swipes, campus-wide dollars (CWAs), or even dining swipes. As college students, we are constantly tracking our bank accounts to check how much money we are spending. Why not be as conscious about our CWA/dining dollars spending and dining hall swipes?
This app is similar to LinkedIn, but it is usually directly connected and controlled by your school. Through Handshake, you have the ability to find jobs and internship opportunities that are based on what skills you have, the location of your choice, your intended or declared Major, the type of work environment, and so much more! Use your school email to find on-campus internships/job opportunities and Career Services events more easily. Use Handshake to sign up for networking events, information sessions, and even appointments with Career Services (where they’ll help you start/revise your resumes and cover letters)!
Self Control (Free)
This app will block any distracting websites (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, online shopping, etc.) whenever you need to focus. The capability of this app is astonishing; when you start the timer, your listed sites are completely blocked. Even if you try to restart your computer and delete the app, the distracting websites will still be blocked until your timer is done. This app has kept me productive and focused since my freshman year of high school. (This app is only compatible with MacBooks at this time; but, there are some alternatives that you can add to Google Chrome that serve a similar purpose.)