12 October, 2018
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Technology is great! Netflix, Facebook, Snapchat. All of those funny cat videos! I could spend hours watching cake decorating tutorials, which has become my ultimate form of procrastination, despite never having decorated a cake in my life.
But technology isn’t all about the distractions. There are a number of great apps out there that can make your study a little easier, and your time a little more productive.
More efficient study = more time for cat videos! So here are a few of my favourite apps for study. Some of these are only available to Android users, but I’m sure there are apple equivalents!
One of the key issues I have when studying is staying on track and not getting distracted. Procrastination is my enemy, and the enemy of most students I know. One of the ways I’ve found of beating my procrasti-demons is chunking my working time into more manageable portions.
This portion control still lets me get stuff done – it’s just a more concentrated, short burst of productivity then a very fast break. It often takes me only an hour or so to get something done with 25 minutes of solid effort then a 5 minute break to grab a snack or do some star jumps then another 25 minute block.
The app I use for this is called ‘Productivity challenge’. It’s entirely customisable – you choose how long your work sessions are, how long you want your short breaks to be and how many productive sessions in a row earn you a longer break. You can have up to 4 projects to split your time between – useful to see how much time you’re spending on different subjects or GAMSAT sections!
You also get to ‘level up’ and gain achievements as you work – the number of hours and your consistency progress you through ranks from ‘Unrepentant Slacker’ through ‘Demoralized Drone’ and right up to the top ranks which I’m yet to discover. Probably says a lot about how good I am at staying productive.
I like to team up this app with a reward system – 25 minutes of productivity, 5 minutes of mindless social media scrolling. Four productive sessions in a row – a 30 minute break for reading or exercising or Netflix.
If you’re struggling to get motivated for life in general, try gamifying your life!
There are any number of apps that can make the daily activities of life and adulthood a little more bearable.
For those activities that supposedly makeup the entirety of adult life – laundry, washing the car, paying bills – I’d recommend Habitica for those of you who enjoy RPGs.
Originally a website called HabitRPG, this app allows you to set your own goals – daily, weekly, one offs etc. – and collect points for completing them. You can also lose points if you indulge in some bad habits! These points allow you to customise your character, buy pets and steeds, and join in on quests (both fantasy and real life)! It’s a fun way to hack your habits and make otherwise mundane tasks more fun!
Of course you can gamify other areas of your life too! Check out Zombies, Run or the Hogwarts Running Club for fitness. If trying to get better sleep is a habit you want to hack, there’s a huge range of apps out there. I quite like Sleep As Android, but there are so many to choose from!
Flashcards are one of my favourite ways to study. They’re great for memorisation of images, formulas, concepts, vocabulary – anything you can think of.
They’re particularly useful in GAMSAT sections I and III of the GAMSAT exam – especially for tricky scientific concepts.
My favourite flashcard app is Anki – you get to build your own decks or collaborate with others. Anki allows you to study on the go and has a built in algorithm to track your progress and feed you cards at rate designed to maximise your retention.
Confident in your memory for a particular card – you won’t see it again for a few days, even up to weeks! No idea – you’ll see the card again in the same session, until you’ve nailed it. Then you’ll see it for the next few days, to convert your short term memory into long term memory!
Podcasts are a great way to study incidentally – to study when you’re not really trying – while driving, commuting, doing the dishes. Or they can be used for recreation – to take some time out from all that studying you’re doing!
I use the Podcast Addict App to keep all of my podcasts and radio segments in one place. Humerus Hacks is one of my favourites – aimed at med students but there are a range you can listen to that can help with general study and GAMSAT prep too!
RadioLab has a diverse range of podcasts, some of which can be used for GAMSAT Section II essays and the CSIRO has just launched Interronauts – fun little scientific snippets. And of course, for fun, I love the Thrilling Adventure Hour!
So there you have it. Some of my favourite apps that help me balance work and life and get me through my study. There are tonnes more out there though, so go and experiment – see what works for you! Good luck, and happy studies!