More Smartphone App-roaches to Explore: Note Taking

From fitness to home management to travel and leisure time, School Nutrition’s February 2020 issue, gave you more than 50 smartphone apps grouped in a number of categories (“Is There an App for That?), all showcasing how apps can make your life a little easier. In a marketplace of more than two million apps, the article brought a fraction to your attention! So, how else have smartphone apps changed and improved your life? Take notetaking and other digital organization.  

Your smartphone goes everywhere with you, so it’s smart to use it to organize various aspects of your life and keep all that information available in one place. No more scrambling for scraps of paper or carrying a mini notebook when you have Evernote, which lets you “capture ideas and inspiration in notes, voice and pictures.” Add attachments and clip web pages. Create your own custom organization, using “notebooks,” tags and a search function to find what you need. The app has a free basic plan and premium and business options. Less-robust is the very simple ColorNote notepad, which allows you to write or voice-to-text your notes and organize them into several color categories. It also has a great keyword search function, if you can’t remember if you put an item on your shopping list, your wish list or your “to follow-up” list.

You can use one of those notepad apps to create a list of your numerous app and website passwords or you can check out LastPass, a password manager and password generator that locks this personal information in a “secure vault.” All you have to remember is your LastPass master password and the app will autofill your logins for you. No more frustrating password resets! You can also use it to store information like credit card numbers and health insurance cards. A premium version provides more storage, fingerprint authentication and unlimited sharing of passwords. Dashlane is a similar app identified in SN’s research.

Think it’s hard to remember passwords? What about birthdays? Birthdays for Android is very simple to populate, allowing you to make note of birthdays (and anniversaries) and sync these, as desired, with your phone contacts. If you know the year, the app will tell you if your loved one is about to mark a major milestone. A countdown (“20 days left”) and a reminder function will help ensure you don’t miss out in sending your well-wishes on time. A “gifts” link connects you to Amazon.com. There are similar birthday reminder apps for both Android and iOS; others link to greeting cards and shopping apps.

Cozi Family Organizer allows you to share your calendar and lists with other family members, keeping everyone in the loop with updates and changes. It’s the digital upgrade of the calendar that hangs on the refrigerator! Color coding helps identify categories of activities, as well as individuals. View the whole family at one time or check an individual’s personal schedule. Set reminders to ensure no one misses team practice or double-books the night of parent-teacher conferences. Agendas can be sent by email. Shopping and to-do lists are also available. A premium version is available for an annual fee.

Where did the time go? If this is a regular lament about progress (or lack thereof) on a project for your workday or your weekend “honey-do” list, consider Toggl to help you track your time for improved management. Although the app is positioned primarily as a business tool, tracking tasks, projects and clients, it can be adapted to personal use, as well. Use a real-time timer clock or retroactively record start and stop marks. The app can help identify tasks that you over- or under-estimate for better planning.

Planning for National School Breakfast Week, your summer cross-country trip through the National Parks or the presentation you will give at SNA’s Annual National Conference? Trello is a tool to help you manage all the to-do tasks related to projects. Create “cards” that you post onto a virtual bulletin board to track your project’s progress. You can add checklists and due dates and clear your own mind from trying to keep track of every detail!

Feeling overwhelmed by so much smartphone productivity? Forest is the “best cure for phone addiction.” Are you trying to be more in the moment and focused on a task at hand, without allowing your phone to become a distraction? Plant a virtual seed in this app—it will grow whenever your phone is at rest. If you can’t resist the temptation of using your phone and leave the app, your tree will wither. This gamified approach offers a sense of achievement and responsibility to make better use of your time.

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