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5 Essential Apps for College Students (and anyone else with a smartphone, computer, and internet connection)

When I started college I was unorganized and unproductive. Since then, I have discovered several helpful apps that have made me a more efficient and organized student.

These are some of the essential apps for college students (and everyone else with a smartphone, computer, and internet connection):

1. Evernote – iOS/Android/Windows/Web – cost: free

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Evernote is not your average notepad app. To begin with, it’s aesthetic design by far outshines the default iPhone notes app. Also, it’s spread across multiple platforms.

Let’s say I come up with a new idea for a blog post but don’t have my laptop with me, I can simply open up Evernote on my phone and write down my ideas and a draft for my post. Later, I can open up my laptop, log into Evernote, and the first draft of my blog will be right there. This blog post actually started as a note on Evernote.

A few more advantages of using Evernote:

  • can attach files to notes
  • can create voice recordings (mobile version only)
  • can send notes via email or other means
  • can organize notes into different notebooks based on topic

 

2. Chegg Flashcards – iOS/Andriod/Windows – cost: free

chegg

It is hard to keep track of notes and even harder to quiz yourself without the help of a partner. With Chegg Flashcards, you can make flashcards, organize them into folders, and quiz yourself on the material.

Although I have not used this app much this semester, it is a great way to study when you’re by yourself. Every college student should have it, or a similar app, in their arsenal.

 

3. Forest – iOS/Andriod/Windows – cost: $1.99

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I discovered these next two apps while watching  Thomas Frank’s videos  on Youtube. The first is an app called Forest, which helps you stop being so distracted from and your smartphone. We often procrastinate by checking Instagram or text messages.

The first is an app called Forest, which helps you stop being so distracted from and your smartphone. We often procrastinate by checking Instagram or text messages.

With Forest, you choose an amount of time that you want to stay focused on your work. Once you allowed an amount of time a tree begins to grow. For your tree to finish growing, you must remain within the Forest app. Upon your tree completing growth, you will receive coins to buy new types trees, or you can plant an actual tree in a foreign country. But if you leave your tree will die (how dare you hurt nature!).

Forest incorporates an idea known a Gamification, which we will talk about more in a second.

4. Habitica – iOS/Andriod/Web – cost: free

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Habitica has quickly become one of my favorite iPhone apps. It combines my love for RPGs with my desire to be productive.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: create an awesome video game character
Step 2: come up with some habits to build
Step 3: add some tasks to your to-do list
Step 4: earn coins by building habits and completing real-life tasks
Step 5: become the greatest and most productive hero of all time!

Habitica makes accomplishing even menial tasks enjoyable. If you’re a video game nerd like me, Habitica is your dream app.

5. Dropbox – iOS/Andriod/Windows/Web – cost: free

5 apps dropbox

I used to get so tired of carrying around a flash drive. It was extremely frustrated to get to school only to realize that I left my flash drive at home and won’t be able to work on my assignment.

Dropbox has solved my flash drive woes. Much like Evernote, Dropbox functions like a Cloud, you can access your files from any computer or smartphone by logging into your Dropbox account. If you’re a college student, or anyone else that saves files on a computer, you should definitely be using Dropbox.

Have your own favorite apps? Let me know about them in the comments!

 

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Why Inspiration is Overrated

I procrastinated a lot before I wrote this blog post, mainly because I didn’t feel like it. I never really feel like writing unless I’m in the process of reading a really good book or watch some sort of motivational video. Because of this I don’t get much writing done, I spend more time waiting to feel like writing.

A lot of people say things like “I’ll wait to be inspired, then I’ll do it.” But if you wait for inspiration to come, you’ll never accomplish anything. Inspiration comes and goes and is not worth relying on. Great people don’t wait for inspiration, they just do. Inspiration is great when you’re starting something new, but it fades quickly. Rather than constantly looking for inspiration, we should learn to develop discipline. Discipline is not based on feelings but on habits. Habits are stable unlike inspiration.

Strangely enough, the key to being inspired is actually doing the task you are waiting to be inspired to do.  Once you start the task, you’ll begin to feel more motivated to finish it.

Here’s an example. When I decide I’m going to write a blog post I tend to procrastinate. I’ll sit around and think “oh I can do it later,” or “I have too many other things to do right now.” With this mindset I never get any writing done. But when I open up Evernote and actually start writing I begin to feel more inspired. Once I start it actually becomes hard for me to stop.

This same sort of thing happened to me back in high school when I played basketball. I would sit in my house and play video games rather than going outside to practice. But once I went outside and began to shoot or do ball handling drills I would find myself enjoying it more than the video games I was playing. This principle has helped me be successful in college as well.

Habits are far more important than inspiration. If you get into the habit of going to the gym you no longer need to “feel like” going. You just go. It becomes natural. The same is to be said about anything.

If I decided that I was going to write a book I should set a daily goal. I could write 700 words a day. This would help me meet my goal of writing a book as long as I stay consistent. I definitely won’t feel inspired to write 700 words a day, but if I build the habit I am bound to do it. Then in a matter of months I’ll have a completed book! I wouldn’t have finished my hypothetical book because I was inspired to write it, but rather because I learned to be a disciplined and habitual writer.

I am not trying to say that inspiration is worthless, it certainly has its place, but it is definitely overrated. We should not elevate inspiration to a place where it overshadows more important things such as habit building, discipline, and goal setting. When you learn to practice these, inspiration becomes your servant rather than your master.