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Apps Aren’t Always Distracting. These 10 Apps Actually Help You Focus!

Apps Aren’t Always Distracting. These 10 Apps Actually Help You Focus!

Our computers and smartphones are often considered the ultimate machines of distraction. They can be so full of entertainment possibilities that many of us can’t go a single hour without looking at our phones many many times.

When some apps seem built to test our self control, placing themselves in our minds, almost like addictions. These 10 apps don’t demand our attention, but instead aim to improve it. With them improving your productivity and reducing stress [1] in your day-to-day life will be easier.

Headspace 2.0

    Headspace is a very popular meditation app. Don’t worry though, the meditation here is stripped of any religious and spiritual stuff and instead aims to help you receive the many benefits meditation can give you.

    Aside from improving your focus and concentration, meditation has been shown to make you less prone to anger, improve memory, make you more empathetic, and improve your ability to make good decisions.

    It’s little wonder then that Headspace advertises itself as a kind of “gym” for the mind. Headspace aims to bring you in easy ten minute chunks.

    Noizio

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      Noizio, and Noisli are not only pretty similar in name, but also function. Noizio is an ambient sound generator, one exclusive to Apple devices such as your Mac or iPhone. I have written about how ambient sound helps boost your focus, so if you loved Noisli or other ambient sound apps, then you’ll love this one, too.

      Panda Focus Mode

        While online, with the sum of all human knowledge and cat videos at your finger tips, it can be easy to get distracted and forget why you went on the internet in the first place. Panda Focus Mode counters this by showing you a to-do list you entered every time you open a new tab. By being reminded of everything you need to do, the items on your list will take center stage in your mind.

        Focus Booster

          Focus Booster is built around the Pomodoro technique [2] , a time management system, where the time spent on work is broken down into manageable chunks.
          The app is extremely versatile, it allows you to set the time spent on work or rest, as well as generate graphs showing you how your time was spent throughout the day. With this info, you’ll be able to plan your day and time, exactly according to how you use your time.

          Currently it’s only a desktop app, but mobile versions are coming soon.

          Noisli

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            Noisli aims to boost your focus and productivity through ambient sounds and music. What’s more it helps you create a playlist of your favorite sounds, making sure you are as happy and comfortable as possible while you listen.

            But how can simple ambient sounds actually improve your productivity?
            Surely, the only way ambient music can improve your focus and productivity is by boring you so much you want to work instead of listening.

            Actually, there are many ways ambient sound can improve your self control and focus. For example, normally when we listen to sound, it is coming from many different directions and different distances. Ambient sound presents a persistent sound that doesn’t change. Enabling you to listen without your mind jumping to the causes of each noise. It helps you focus on the present [3].

            In a way, ambient sounds creates a new mental environment. This is what Nosili can bring you.

            Forest

              Forest is a pretty ingenious app. The previous two sought to improve your focus and concentration aimed to hack your brain and subconscious through meditation and ambient sounds. Forest functions more like a game. Some of you more seasoned readers may remember the Tamigotchi, that annoying little virtual pet that had the habit of dying on you when left alone. Forest functions remarkably similarly.

              Once you activate the app a virtual tree begins to grow, and grow. Soon a virtual forest powered, by your productivity can grow and flourish. While its growing you are encouraged to work, or at the very least, leave your smartphone or computer alone. If you pick up your phone and turn off the app, your virtual tree dies.

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              Its a unique concept, an app that doesn’t want you to use your phone. But its popularity suggests it works.

              Brain.FM

                Like Noisli, Brain FM uses music to help your concentration. However the music here is artificially generated and designed for you to improve your focus. There are different channels on the app to aid you through a number of tasks, working, for example, but also a channels for meditation, and sleep.

                Though the pieces of music are computer generated, they, none the less are generated with relaxing and improving focus and concentration in mind. As such, the app is extremely effective at boosting your focus while in use.

                Freedom

                  Freedom is an app that is growing in popularity. The way it works is quite simple, it blocks access to chosen apps, programs, and even your browsers cutting away all distractions.

                  We all have that app we check or use more than we should. I was a fiend for Angry Birds a couple years ago. This is fine, but it becomes a problem if they are distracting you from work or creative projects. Freedom (the app not the concept) eliminates the issue by making it impossible to access these distracting apps.

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                  Unlike some other, similar apps, freedom can be used across many devices, making both it and you more efficient in the process.

                  Hocus Focus

                    Hocus Focus is pretty similar to Freedom, in the way it helps boost your focus by cutting out distracting apps and programs. However, what makes it different is that it hides applications which are not in use, making you less tempted to move away from whatever you’re doing and go back to it.

                    There are different ways it works. You can have it hide applications as soon as you move away from them, or instead, hide them after a few minutes have passed. It works according to your preferences.

                    Self Control

                      Where the other apps in this list are like friends or parents, lovingly guiding your hand to productivity, Self Control is like an angry drill sergeant who plans to break you into working.

                      There are many productivity apps which try to block distractions for a predetermined time limit. Some of them are on this list. However what makes Self Control different, is that it cannot be turned off.

                      That’s right, even if you choose to delete the application or turn off your computer, it keeps working. The only way to get it to stop is by waiting and working until the timer runs out. By doing this it enforces rigid discipline and focus.

                      Reference

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                      Last Updated on October 17, 2018

                      7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                      7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                      How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

                      If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

                      Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

                      So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

                      1. Meditate

                      We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

                      Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

                      Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

                      Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

                      Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

                      If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

                      And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

                      2. Get plenty of sleep

                      If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

                      If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

                      How much sleep should you be getting?

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                      Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

                      Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

                      Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

                      Yes, there are.

                      Try these three things:

                      • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
                      • Don’t eat too late
                      • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

                      Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

                      However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

                      3. Challenge your brain

                      When was the last time you challenged your brain?

                      I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

                      To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

                      Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

                      There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

                      • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                      • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                      • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

                      If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

                      Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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                      4. Take more breaks

                      When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

                      At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

                      However, I was wrong.

                      Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

                      Let me explain.

                      Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

                      Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

                      It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

                      It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

                      What’s the answer?

                      Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

                      If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

                      5. Learn a new skill

                      I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

                      “Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

                      From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

                      Let me give you an example of this:

                      Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

                      Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

                      The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

                      Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

                      Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

                      6. Start working out

                      If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

                      Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

                      Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

                      “But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

                      Not a problem.

                      A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

                      Interested in getting started?

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                      Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

                      • Join a gym
                      • Join a sports team
                      • Buy a bike
                      • Take up hiking
                      • Dance to your favorite music

                      7. Eat healthier foods

                      I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

                      This applies to your brain too.

                      The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

                      Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

                      Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

                      Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

                      • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
                      • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
                      • Nuts – improves memory
                      • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
                      • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

                      Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

                      Final thoughts

                      I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

                      You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

                      But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

                      Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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