My 5 Favorite Free Apps to Stay Smart & Productive

The recent craze of Pokémon Go inspired me to write this post. To be blunt, I think Pokémon Go is a complete waste of time and will eventually phase out like every other popular trend. And while I’m no stranger to Facebook, most of the time I spend on my phone is used productively. I enjoy learning something new every day, and keeping your mind stimulated is great for your brain health as you age. That’s why I try to maximize my day by utilizing apps in my downtime that increase my brain activity.

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So if you’re not the type who thrives off of walking in circles outside (and eventually into oncoming traffic…or a tree) to catch a Pikachu, check out some of my favorite free apps to help you stay productive and smart.

 

*Note: I use all of these apps on an Android phone, downloaded through Google Play.

 

Duolingo – This is my most recent download and my new favorite app. Duolingo is a language learning app where you can learn up to 15 different languages in an easy-to-use interface. I’m currently (re)learning Italian. The app uses a combination of speaking & pronunciation, word matching, pictures and typing translations to help you easily learn a new language fast. Learning even one other language can boost your brain power. Plus, it allows us to open our minds to other cultures. If you’ve been wanting to learn a new language, this is the best app in my opinion. Provalo!

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Insight Timer – This app has provided me with the best mental benefits so far. Insight Timer is a free meditation app, which includes both guided meditation and soothing music. I use the music on this app to help me fall asleep every night, and I use the guided meditations when I need to recenter myself after a stressful day. Most of us are constantly working and/or distracted by everything around us and we don’t take enough time to just breathe and relax. Daily meditation has been proven to increase your brain function, help you sleep better, reduce stress and make you feel happier. What’s more productive than that?

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Podcast Addict – I started driving into work versus taking the bus about a year ago. I used to read on the bus, but since that’s frowned upon while driving I turned to podcasts to pass the commute time. There are several podcast apps out there, but I’m fond of Podcast Addict, as they always have every podcast I’m looking for. My current favorites are Criminal, TED Talks, Millennial, BrainStuff, Stuff You Should Know, Nerdist and WTF with Marc Maron. A couple of these are just for pleasure, but all of them stimulate your brain in some capacity. And there’s no better time to increase your brain activity than when you literally have nothing to do but drive…or sit in traffic (because it’s Charlotte).

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Wikipedia – For some, Wikipedia is the easiest source to use in a college essay you have to stay up all night finishing because you procrastinated for far too long. For others, it’s a great way to learn about anything and everything known to man. I like the latter option, specifically the “random” feature in the Wikipedia app. I use this a few times a day to learn about something I never would have thought to research on my own. Some topics are more interesting than others, but using this feature has also prompted me to continue researching a topic, which allows me to gain knowledge on something new. You can also show off how smart you are when you know the answer to a particularly odd trivia question!

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Now for Reddit – Reddit can certainly serve as another time-waster, full of videos of derpy cats and people tripping over things. But it also happens to be full of useful information. I’ve tried a few different Reddit apps and prefer Now for Reddit most. It’s one of my main sources for news and also allows me to connect with others over topics like women’s issues, politics, wellness and food, and travel. There’s a subreddit for pretty much anything you can think of. I find myself using Reddit most when I have a few minutes of free time here and there throughout my day, because it’s easy and fast to read one or two posts in that limited time frame.

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BONUS: The Skimm – While not an actual app, I wanted to include The Skimm as another great source to quickly gain knowledge on a daily basis. I despise reading long, drawn out news articles, as I find myself losing interest and then giving up altogether. With The Skimm, you get a daily email with short recaps of the most prominent current events at that time. They inject some humor into their summaries to keep them light and engaging, but they also provide facts in an unbiased fashion. You have the option to just read the summaries or click the links they provide within to read further. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world and be able to contribute to conversation in a productive way.

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What are your favorite apps or websites to stay productive and smart? Leave a comment!

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