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The Best Productivity Apps for Your Shiny New iPad

The Best Productivity Apps for Your Shiny New iPad

    Last week we tried to help answer the question of if you should buy Apple’s latest creation in the iPad 2. Even though I am a tad bit skeptical of the iPad 2 being such a great upgrade from the first gen model, I can in no way say that it isn’t the best tablet on the market at this very moment, especially for the price. And with the long lines and sell outs of iPad 2 on Friday, it appears that many consumers think it’s the best too.

    We have also discussed several weeks ago how tablets can actually be decent productivity devices, even with their lack of fast input with a full, physical keyboard. I have been using my iPad 1 since its release and have to admit that it is my go to device for keeping my action lists, reviewing and adding to my calendar, and reviewing documents and documentation.

    So, with new iPad in hand, let’s find some of the best productivity apps for iPad and iPad 2 to get you started.

    Action Lists and GTD

      Toodledo

      Toodledo for iPad literally feels like an extension of the web app that many GTD fans have deemed as the center of their system. The sync is fast and the ways that you can manipulate your lists is top notch.

      Universal app: $2.99

       

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        Things

        Considered to be one of the best GTD apps by many Mac-heads, Things is a streamlined, easy to use actions and projects app for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It is on the pricey side, but many users say that it is totally worth it for the workflow.

        No universal app: $19.99

          Omnifocus

          Considered by this Mac-head to be the best GTD application in the Apple realm for iOS and Mac OS X. Omnifocus has got some David Allen backing and is definitely a premium app for iOS which you can tell by the pricing. One of the best functions that I have found is location aware contexts. On a side note, if you want full desktop sync on OS X, you are going to have to pay another $79.99.

          No universal app: $39.99

            Todo

            Todo is a beautiful list application that syncs with the Todo web app or with Toodledo online. Todo does a good job of using the iPad’s screen real estate by giving the user the feeling of using a paper planner. You can also change the look and feel of the theme of your planner which gives this app a nice touch.

            No universal app: $4.99

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              Pocket Informant HD

              Pocket Informant has been around for a while, with its start coming from Windows Mobile. PI has done a good job of allowing you to hash your action lists and calendars in any way that you like. PI also syncs with Toodledo or even with Outlook with the download of a desktop app.

              No universal app: $14.99

              Notes and Document Creation

                iWork Suite

                We couldn’t forget the iWork suite that Apple created for the launch of the iPad last year. I have to say that Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for iPad show me what developers can actually do when developing for these tablet devices. If you have to create or edit documents that contain tables, formulas, etc. then the iWork suite is the best on iPad.

                No universal app: $9.99 each Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

                  Evernote

                  Evernote is the most ubiquitous digital note-taking tool. Period. I am not exactly sure how any of my projects would get done without this awesome tool.

                  Universal app: Free

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                    Simplenote

                    Simplenote is just that; a simple way to take notes. Simplenote allows you to take as many plain text notes as you want and then can sync them to the cloud via their web app. If you are one of those minimalist productivity types, then Simplenote is the way to take notes on your iPad.

                    Universal app: Free

                      Catch Notes

                      Catch Notes (used to be 3Banana Notes) reminds one of Simplenote with some added features like tagging and “hash-linking” your notes together. I used Catch Notes a lot back on Android, but decided to consolidate everything into Evernote to simplify.

                      Universal app: Free

                        Documents To Go

                        If you don’t want to give all of your money to Apple by buying their iWork suite but still need a way to edit Office documents, then your next best bet will be Documents To Go. Docs To Go has been around for a while now and has created a decent productivity suite on iOS at a decent price.

                        Universal App: Documents to Go $9.99 | Documents To Go Premium (includes Dropbox sync, Google Docs sync, email attachments, etc.) $14.99

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                        Miscellaneous

                          Stock Calendar and Contacts

                          I have yet to find better contact and calendar management than the stock apps provided by Apple. Also, they are deeply integrated into iOS. This means that other apps will use them to add items to your calendar or use contact information. Apple has done a great job of using the size of the iPad’s screen to give you more information and better navigation while browsing.

                          Free, comes with your iPad!

                            Dropbox

                            I and many others consider Dropbox to completely change the way that you store your files, especially if you work cross-platform. Dropbox for iPad takes advantage of the screen and also gives you previews of your documents, photos, and media. You can open your documents in whatever app you have installed that supports that type of media.

                            Universal app: Free

                              Mindnode

                              If you are like me, then you think in mindmaps. If that is the case then the best mindmapping software for iOS for the price is Mindnode. There is something visceral about creating mindmaps on a large touchscreen device; it feels much more natural than point and clicking with a mouse, often resulting in more dynamic and free-flowing brainstorm sessions.

                              Universal app: $5.99

                                Goodreader

                                This is the first app that I purchased for my iPad to read and review documents and PDFs and can’t say that I have spent a better five bucks in my life. Goodreader syncs with just about any cloud-based document service you can think of (Dropbox, Sugarsync, Box.net, Google Docs, etc).

                                No universal app: $4.99

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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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