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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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                                1 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 2 How Exercising Makes You More Productive 3 10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills 4 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 5 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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                                Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                                8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                                Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                                When you train your brain, you will:

                                • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                                • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                                • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                                So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                                1. Work your memory

                                Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                                When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                                If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                                The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                                Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                                Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                                What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                                For example, say you just met someone new:

                                “Hi, my name is George”

                                Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                                Got it? Good.

                                2. Do something different repeatedly

                                By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                                Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                                It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                                And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                                But how does this apply to your life right now?

                                Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                                Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                                Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                                So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                                You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                                That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                                3. Learn something new

                                It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                                For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                                Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                                You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                                4. Follow a brain training program

                                The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                                5. Work your body

                                You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                                Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                                Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                                Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                                6. Spend time with your loved ones

                                If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                                If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                                I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                                7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                                Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                                Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                                Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                                8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                                Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                                When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                                So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                                The bottom line

                                Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                                Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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