Productivity Apps to Help You Ace Your Finals

If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that I used to be all about studying tips and school. I’ve since expanded into more of a lifestyle blog, but I love to drop a quick post about productivity here and there.

I’ve been using some of the same apps off and on since my freshman year of college to help me keep track of how hard I’m working, my goals, and to keep my study space distraction free. Here are my top three favorites:

Flipd

Flipd is an app for smartphones (available on the App store and in Google Play) that helps keep you distraction free. Flipd it technically a digital wellness company, so it’s meant to be used for things other than studying, but I typically use the app to force me to stay off my phone.

I set a timer for five minutes each morning when I get up. This keeps me from scrolling through social media while I’m still under the covers. I honestly think that’s one of my day’s biggest time sucks! I can stay curled up under a pile of blankets liking Instagrams for hours without realizing it – and then my whole day is gone! So I try to set a five minute timer and put my phone down when I first wake up. I started doing this mid-September once I realized that most of my morning was being devoted to other people’s lives rather than preparing myself for my own. I haven’t been late to class since! And I can honestly say my brain feels fresher when I step out of my house each morning, even if it is 8am.

For studying, I tend to set the timer for 20-30 minute increments. This is what the Pomodoro method recommends. Being focused for thirty minutes, then allowing yourself a five minute break, leads to the most productive stretches of time. The way the app works is that you’ll get a countdown for whatever time you set. If you leave the app, your timer dies. You can have the app shut off all your notifications if you need the extra push to stop looking at your phone, but I usually just set the timer and leave it alone. If you forget that you’ve set a timer and leave the app, or open your phone, you’ll get a notification saying that you’ll lose your session if you don’t head back to the app.

The app challenges you to get 180 minutes of distraction free time a day. Their Instagram has monthly challenges to see who can rack up the most Flipd minutes, or be the most productive. They partnered with Passion Planner for 2019 and do productivity giveaways most months.

While I don’t use this feature, you can categorize how you spend your time. I don’t tag my Flipd minutes, but if you’re using the app for different things, like exercising or sleep, then this is a good way to track your progress.

You can also study with groups on the app. Just search using a group name or a group code to find your friends. Mine is called Bailey’s Study Group, and the group code is #xkKGWk

Forest

Forest is another app that can be found in the Apple App Store or on Google Play. While Flipd is a free app, Forest does cost money. I downloaded the app way back when it was free, but now it costs $2 to download. I use the app every day so I think the cost is worth it, but if you’re looking for only one productivity app and don’t want to spend the money, you’re better off using Flipd.

Personally, I like Forest over Flipd because Forest gives me a visual representation of what my time looks like. The app grows a tree, or a shrub depending on how long you set your timer for, while you study. If you end your session, your tree dies. For each tree planted, you get coins. You can use those coins to purchase different types of trees on the app, or donate your coins so that the company can plant a real tree out in the wild.

You can up the stakes in Forest by studying with a group. Any person that leaves the app before time’s up makes everyone’s trees wither.

You can also unlock achievements along the way by spending more time off your phone, growing more trees, and having a variety of plants in your garden.

As a visual learner, I appreciate that Forest gives me a visual representation of what spending time away from my phone looks like. I can go back and view all of the months I’ve been using this app and see the forests I’ve created. The more trees, the more time away from my phone.

Those are the two apps I use for productivity, but I also have a Google Chrome add on called Momentum that I use daily for to-do lists.

Momentum is very popular on the Studygram and Studyblr communities, so you’ve probably seen it before if you follow any Instagram accounts that are about the studying ~aesthetic~

Good luck on finals everybody!

How I Studied for my Law School Midterms

I thought that, upon leaving undergrad, midterms would be a thing of the past. Little did I know, October is a hell month no mater what level of school you’re in.

I found that my usual way of studying no longer worked as well for the upcoming tests, so I decided to change it up a little. Here’s what worked, for me:

Podcasts

I drove to (and back from, of course) North Carolina twice during midterms. That’s four hours of being in a car staring at the road instead of some textbook (both equally as boring, I’ll give them that). I decided to use my time wisely and invest in come law school podcasts.

Remember back in high school when you’d binge watch Crash Course History the night before a test and hope for the best? This is the same thing, only “cramming” no longer beings the night before but the entire week before.

I really like listening to Law To Fact Podcast. Sure it’s not as entertaining as Missing Richard Simmons or any of the other stories I used to binge on road trips or walking around campus, but it’s hosted by a real law professor. Her guests include law professors from all over the country calling to explain the basics of what you’re studying in the class room.

I was skeptical at first because all the podcasts sounded like they were recorded phone calls with the intro music being played through a speaker into the microphone app on the iPhone, but quality of the production aside, this lady does know what she’s talking about. In fact, she and her colleagues have been teaching for so long they know exactly where most students start to get confused. This means they’ll either do a full episode on that topic to break things down slowly, or they’ll point out where people get confused and why, or they’ll joke about she she herself got confused and how long it took her to figure it all out. It’s realistic, and it makes me feel a bit better about myself when I don’t understand something the first time around.

Law To Fact has all the episodes on their website arranged by topic. You can easily go in and find what’s tripping you up the most. I’m listening to the episode called How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Legal Analysis and Writing Classes right now! The podcast is also on Spotify and Apply podcasts so you can download them on the go.

One Sheet to Rule Them All

Yes, that is a Lord of the Rings reference. Yes, it does work.

Allow me to explain:

Every law student start writing outlines on day one of all their classes. By the time midterms roll around, the outlines are close to thirty pages long. It’s going to take you at least an hour to read through your entire thirty page outline, but I can almost guarantee that if you read through it that quickly you won’t get anything out of it. (That’s why skimming your cases before class doesn’t work, but hopefully you’ve figured that out by now ;))

When you start studying for an exam, condense your outline every time you read over it. You should start studying for an exam two weeks beforehand, without your outline completed at least a week and a half before the test. Each time you read it, take out the definitions of words you know. If there’s a concept you need to know, memorize it and get it down to two or three words that will jog your memory. Need to know a case brief? Have one word about the case to trigger your memory and then the holding of the case and why the court ruled that way. After two weeks of condensing, you’ll have your outline down to one page. The best past about this isn’t that it fits in your pocket but that because you’ve gone over it so many times you don’t even need it anything. You have the whole thing memorized because you rewrote it in your own words each day for two weeks.

Find Ways to Stay Productive

Staying productive for me during undergrad was pretty easy because I was so busy. I knew I had a finite amount of time to get things done in. Now, I feel like I have so much more time. Which means I goof off more. We’ve all heard the story of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, just wait until you read If You Give a Law Student Four Unbroken Hours and Readings They Can Do Tomorrow.

I try my best to stick my butt in the law library until 5pm each day. Sometimes I get everything done and go home to cook dinner, other days I barely get a dent into my piles of studies and end up working until 11pm. It happens. But what’s really helping me hold myself accountable at productivity apps and the screen time feature on the iPhone. The screen time feature tells me how much time I’ve spent looking at my phone that day and compares it to other days. I can also use that feature to schedule downtime, set app limits, and block content.

Another app I’ve recently rediscovered is Forest. I used it my freshman year at UGA and then promptly forgot about it when I switched from a Samsung to an iPhone. But I’m back on that hype train and loving it more every day!

I won’t talk about it much here because I’m planning on doing a round up of all my favorite apps that I use for school.

Planners!

If you don’t have any way of keeping track of your time, how are you still alive? And sane?!

My life would be over without my planner. I use my bullet journal for everything. It houses all my to do lists, things I need to research, gifts I need to buy, grocery lists, medication lists, contact information for people I need at networking events….literally everything.

If you don’t already have a planner in law school, go get one. Or even just have a little book of sticky notes or send yourself texts so you can write things down on. Law school tends to go from 0 to 60 really fast, and you never know what you’re going to miss. Heck, I use my planner, have a catch all notebook, use the stickies on my laptop, and use the notes all on my phone and there are still things I miss.

The human brain can do a lot of things, but it can’t do it all. Be kind to your mind and write a few things down here and there so it can take a sec to decompress.

Plus, the less your brain has to fight to remember about your daily life, the better it can remember important stuff, like the Grable test or minimum contacts or….I dunno, foreseeability probably.

Study Schedules

Another way I utilize my planner is to make a study schedule. My professor for Legal Process at Mercer had us set up an hourly plan for the week with all of our classes, when we wanted free time, study time, and breaks for food and sleep. Mine seems crazy, but I do allow myself to have extra free time here and there, I promise! You can click the button below to download a blank copy for yourself!

Group Study

The last thing I did when studying for midterms, which I never did this frequently in undergrad, was study with a group. My law school class is broken up into five sections. Not all of us share the same teachers, but those of us that do either have that teacher at different times or we don’t sit near each other during class. This means that each one of us takes something different out of the lectures we all sit through.

Studying with a diverse group is great because everyone has a different way of explain a concept, and sometimes that’s all it takes to make things “click.”

For our last midterm, Juris and Judgements (formerly called Civil Procedure), my group got a study room in the library. We found a huge whiteboard and condensed all of our outlines and notes onto one “page” (AKA the one whiteboard). Even though it seemed to take forever, we all walked out of that room confident about our test the next day.

Disclaimer: this is what I did to study. I’m writing about to give you an idea of how I prepared for my first set of law school midterms. If you know some of these things don’t work for you, don’t do them! Everyone’s study habits are different. Don’t go completely overhauling your study habits just because someone on the internet studies in a way that is different from you.

Top 5 Ways to Stay Focused

I have trouble staying focused. It’s like my brain goes on autopilot and flies to South America on vacation without me! Like come on, man, at least take me with you!

Over the past few months I’ve found little tricks to keep me on task. From using all my senses (6th included) to using timers and short bursts of exercise I’ve managed to keep my brain with me.

1. Sense of Smell

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This sounds weird, but it actually does help to spray an unfamiliar scent when you study. I like to use candles because of their calming effect.

2. Knitting

Constantly keeping a part of the body in motion, doing something the person doesn’t have to put much thought into such as knitting a scarf, playing with silly putty, or tapping a desk has shown to help increase the ability to pay attention in those with ADHD. Usually, taking notes and bobbing my leg up and down during class keeps my brain centered on the task at hand, but I’ve been in classes where I didn’t have to take notes. What a crisis! So, with my teacher’s permission, I began to knit during class. There was instant improvement. Heck, I could focus on one topic for an hour and a half straight! It was a miracle!

3. Music

If you’re like me and get distracted by ambient conversations try listening to music without words, such as the Star Wars soundtrack, or the sounds of nature. Both Apple and Google have great apps for instrumental music and ambiance.

4. Images

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We are visual creatures, are we not? Try taking short breaks every few paragraphs or so (when taking notes) and draw pictures that summarize or help you remember what you read. It gives your brain enough time to wander before going back into serious study mode so you don’t waste a half hour day dreaming.

5. Pomodoro

I’m a big believer in the Pomodoro method of learning.¬†Twenty-five minutes of work and a five minute break? Sounds good to me! If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, check out the official website at this link to learn more! However, the way I Pomodoro is a little different – during the five minute break I either walk down and back up all the floors in my dorm or I run in place. This helps get all my bumps, jitters, restless leg syndrome stuff out of the way so it won’t bother me when I’m working.

What are some of the methods you use to keep focused?

xo Bailey