There are plenty of articles, and studies out there that laud and praise the benefits of turning off the mobile phone distraction and taking part in a digital detox, and while they may certainly have some merit, isn’t there a happy medium that we can reach?
For those looking to make the most of their smartphone, in order to help productivity rather than hindering it, here are some different apps to help you boost up your skillset, fighting the digital detox for a change.
A program and app that is already prevalent in many companies and modern business, Slack is an excellent and, to many, invaluable tool that can boost productivity between you and your peers. A work-orientated evolution of the group chat, it allows you to create different channels for team members, message your team individually, and share files and notices at the press of a button.
Top Tip: Using Slack for work and need a little break? Set times within the app to turn off notifications when you don’t want to be distracted, and perhaps even set it so that you’ll only get notified when tagged, to see the bits and pieces that are actually of relevance to you.
Want to become an overnight savant in a foreign language? Well, I can’t help you there. I’m afraid, but Duolingo is just one of many completely free apps out there that can help you to learn another language in a fun and gamified way. By completing daily tasks and challenges, you build up your point score, competing with others, and unlocking new topics and lessons as you go.
Incorporate this into your daily commute or lunch break, and before you know it, you’ll be able to understand, read, and even speak segments of a language that at one point felt alien. The key to this one is making it a regular habit, so make sure you try and stay committed.
A simple app that makes it easy for you to buy and trade stocks in small portions as you go, Robinhood is perfect for portable, bite-sized investment. Apps like these are a good way to learn about investment, too, without taking too much of a risk.
Named after the legend of Nottingham forest, Robinhood is an American app and surprisingly isn’t available in the UK just yet, but is set to launch soon.
Top Tip: Have the capital and want to make an investment that can make you a substantial passive income each month? Property investment is a secure investment strategy and can make you lucrative returns in the long term if investing in the right area. Additionally, with the help of property experts such as RW Invest, the investment process can be as hands-on or hands-off as you see fit, leaving you to get on with your primary goals while accumulating capital as a side project.
This one’s a bit of a cheat answer, as it kind of supports the idea of the ‘digital detox’, but OFFTIME is a brilliant way of restricting your phone usage while you’re trying to work. Simply input the time you want to work for into the app, input the apps that you want to be locked out of, and crack on. This is perfect if you need to use your phone to access emails or files while working, but don’t want to get side-tracked by social media in the process.
Spend too much time playing pointless games on your phone during free time and commutes etc? Elevate is an app that seeks to channel this activity into something productive and genuinely useful, offering bite-sized challenges that aim to subconsciously bolster skills such as Maths, English, reading, and writing. The innovative piece of software was at one point voted as Apple’s iPhone app of the year.
Those who remember Brain Training on the Nintendo DS from a few years back will understand the premise that this app offers, of slowly chipping away at little mental games and challenges, which are supposedly meant to help you improve your mental acumen generally. The benefit to this one of course is that you don’t have to take a separate device or games console around with you, as it’s all contained on your phone.
There is a huge demand and job opportunity for coders and those with coding abilities in the modern work landscape, and it is becoming for many a desirable skill that adds a lot of value to a resume or CV. Mimo is a simple app that teaches free, digestible computer science courses, no matter on your current knowledge or level. Much like the other apps on this list, lessons are small and easy to tackle on a lunch break and during a commute, meaning it’s perfect for those who want to learn to code as a side project from their main job.
Learning a musical instrument is something that many of us strive to do, but often put it off or don’t have the time. Simply Piano is one of the many smartphone apps that looks to speed up this process, providing plenty of lessons and songs for you to pick up and play when you have five minutes. This requires a paid subscription, but it’s free to try if you want to dabble before committing to becoming the next Mozart.
Taking a break
Sure, games might be scorned as ‘unproductive’ and ‘needless’, but they are still fun, and it’s important that you avoid running both your phone battery and brain battery into the ground with an abundance of work. To end, here is a selection of creative games to help you unwind, while still encouraging your brain to think creatively:
- Build a Bridge! from Boom Bit Games is a fun puzzle app that challenges you to, you guessed it, build bridges. These physics-based trials are a colorful, hilarious simulation of the construction process.
- Let’s Create! Pottery allows you to get your hands dirty without getting your hands dirty, on a virtual potter’s wheel. Sculpting your own piece of artwork is extremely easy with the touch screen controls, and you can even get your creations 3D printed to make them physical.
- Minecraft is a global phenomenon and the best-selling game of all time after Tetris. Its creative mode gives you a range of different materials to build and experiment to your heart’s content, and its atmospheric vibe and relaxing music are the perfect keys to unwinding after a long day. Minecraft Earth, an upcoming augmented reality spinoff version of the game, will allow you to share your creations with others and build them in the real world.
It’s obvious that there are so many new and exciting smartphone apps to be used. While they all serve a different purpose in our lives, everyone can make the most of the digital world through indulging in the latest and most up to date apps.