One of the main reasons I don’t really use OneNote as much anymore is because I found Notion. Notion really changed the note-taking and organisational game for me. It really is a multi-functional and incredibly useful app allowing you to categorise topics, break down subjects into series of toggles and it’s probably become the all-in-one workspace for everything in my life – from planning YouTube videos to organising notes to keeping track of to-do lists – in fact, I’m trying to transform Notion almost into my ‘second brain’. I really cannot speak highly enough of Notion and I’ve done a number of specific videos about how I use Notion which you can find here and here. If there is one app that you decide to download from this list, then make it Notion…
Evernote has been a really popular resource for a number of years now which means that it’s a developed and trusted note-taking app. It’s packed full of different functions that enable you to consolidate your work in one place as well as categorise different subjects. One other useful feature is the ability to instantly (and easily) search for anything in your notes or files. This might seem simple but so often this is more difficult than it should be with these sorts of apps! Finally, it works across multiple devices which is always helpful and convenient as your information is always with you. Once again, it’s not actually an app that I’ve used extensively but that’s got nothing to do with the quality of Evernote.
OneNote is often the forgotten sibling of the Microsoft Office applications – it’s often in the shadow of its more well-known relatives – Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But it shouldn’t be. OneNote is a very powerful tool for capturing and organising your notes within an interface which is relatively simple to use. Personally, I relied on OneNote extensively when I was a student in order to keep track of all my handwritten notes which I would scan in and then add to using the infinite horizontal canvas provided by OneNote. If you haven’t checked it out before and you’ve got a Microsoft Account, then it’s definitely worth having a look.
Unlike the previous suggestions, Notability is a handwritten note-taking app. I’ve done a series of videos on how I took notes on an iPad using Notability and I still use the app today for both work-related things as well as planning videos for my YouTube channel or writing down ideas for blog articles like this. If you want a good note-taking app for your tablet, then Notability is certainly the one I’d recommend.
To-Do Lists – Todoist
Todoist is perhaps the most popular task manager in the world. It’s used by over 20 million people and has a range of really simple but highly effective functions built into an interface that is really simple to use. Like the name suggests, you can input to-do lists, plan your day, keep track of deadlines, organise modules and generally keep track of your work all in one place.
Revision Timetables – Google Sheets
Once I began to appreciate the power of spaced repetition and realised that retrospective revision timetables are far superior to the standard timetables most people rely on, I came to rely upon Google Sheets as it provided the perfect platform for a retrospective timetable technique based around spaced repetition. I have discussed more about what this particular system is in this blog post and in this video where I explain why retrospective timetables are highly effective and I preferred using Google Sheets specifically because it gives you access across devices – removing unnecessary friction of having to rely on having the latest software to open certain files. The other major advantage is that it’s free.
Pomodoro Techniques – Focus, Forest
I’ve actually written a blog post examining this technique (here) and, as I say in that article, ultimately, the Pomodoro technique relies on a timer and so you could use something as simple as a watch to put this technique into practice. However, certain apps have built-in functionality to allow you to work to the Pomodoro rhythm of working for 20 minutes, resting for 5 minutes and repeating that process for four cycles. Below are two apps that I’ve come across in my studies using this method…
Forest is perhaps superior to other Pomodoro apps because it incorporates both the Pomodoro technique with another means of keeping you focussed and not distracted by your phone – namely, you plant a tree whenever the timer begins and if you go off the app during the 20/25 minute period, the tree dies. It’s an interesting way to help keep you focused through using the Pomodoro technique as well as working on overcoming the distractions emanating from your phone by making sure you stay on the Forest app. I found it helpful and it’s really satisfying to see a forest sort of grow up the more Pomodoros you successfully complete without getting distracted! The only disadvantage – it’ll set you back an eye-watering £1.99
Focus is another app that my friend has used which is simple but effective (and free).
Journaling – Day One
You may be wondering why you’d want to be writing anything else if you’re hard at work revising but there’s actually quite a lot of evidence to suggest that journaling can have some really positive effects. For instance, how simply writing down a small list of things that you are grateful or thankful for each day can do more to boost your personal happiness than increases in salary. When you’re revising, a positive frame of mind is invaluable in reducing the friction of working and, perhaps, might make revision something which is enjoyable…perhaps…certainly I got some benefits from writing my thoughts down on a daily basis. Whilst some people prefer to use a physical journal, the app that I’ve used is…
Easy to use and simple to keep track of your notes. I’ve got a number of different ‘journal streams’ – for instance one recording my daily thoughts and another which records positive comments that I’ve received on YouTube or Instagram for instance. I’ve certainly got some benefits out of keeping track of things in this way so why not give it a go yourself…
And if this was helpful…
If you enjoyed my study app lowdown, check out my Apps and Tech pages too.