Gillian Todd is a current trainee in Shoosmiths’ Edinburgh office. She has set out three apps that every law student can use to improve productivity, focus and wellbeing.
The life of a law student sometimes feels like an impossible balancing act that demands an unattainable level of organisation and time management skills. Having felt that pressure before, the best advice I can give is to work smart as well as work hard. Modern technology affords us a range of tools that not only make our lives easier but can actually boost our output through changing the way we work. Below I’ve set out three apps that every law student can use to improve productivity, focus and wellbeing.
Rather than a tried and trusted app I used throughout university, this is an app I wish I had known about. It allows you to take a photo of any book, whiteboard, notepad or other document and the app will then convert the picture into text which can be edited, saved and shared. There were countless lectures, tutorials and study sessions where I was frantically trying to copy a complex diagram or comprehensive list and would be left with a half-finished page of notes having ran out of time – Office Lens would have significantly cut down the time taken later that day playing catch up, and it might even have helped save some information that would have been lost otherwise. If you’re someone who tries to stealthily take a picture of the screen/whiteboard in the classroom or library and is instead left with a blurry half-readable set of notes to be ‘typed up later’, the app is also great at being able to read images from any angle and in any lighting. Even those of you accustomed to the dark, far corner of the lecture hall can benefit from a clear set of notes and a more efficient study experience.
Forest is a productivity app which allows you to set timers when you want to stay focused without becoming distracted by your phone and its (many) temptations. What sets Forest apart from similar applications is the fun, visual way in which the timers function: when you set a timer, you ‘plant a tree’ which grows while you work. If you exit the app, the tree dies. Though this may not sound particularly emotionally devastating, you do form quite the personal attachment to your ‘forest’ and so it does help dissuade you from using your phone when you should be studying. Perhaps more importantly for the competitive law students out there, the app allows you to add your friends and compare forests, with a leaderboard showing who has grown the most trees/put in the most hours. Though I hate to admit the power a fictional tree could have over me, some friendly competition with other law students was sometimes my only motivation to get up early for another library session during the inevitable mid-way-through-exam-leave slump. As a bonus, by growing trees you earn virtual coins which can be spent on planting real trees through a donation by Forest to their charity partner. It’s a win for productivity and for the environment.
I’m sure most people have heard of Headspace, but I’m adding it to this list in case anyone reading this was a bit like me and had decided to write it off before trying it. It’s often described as a ‘mindfulness and meditation’ app which can alienate some people - myself included - but it has far more application to everyday life than you would think. You can use it for yoga, workouts, muscle relief, even dance breaks for when the studying gets a little too intense (or you’ve just suffered a devastating tree death). It also has a great feature that allows you to ‘track your headspace’ so you can see how your mood and emotions change over time. This can be a useful function for monitoring your stress levels throughout the semester, identifying any triggers that keep cropping up and preventing burnout as exam time gets closer. The app is free when you have a student subscription to Spotify, so it is one of the more accessible ways people can look after their mental health – though it cannot claim to solve every problem, it does offer the user an opportunity to check in, shake the day off and reset a little.
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