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Apps for Memory and Organisation

by Allan Wilson

on Mon Sep 26, 2016

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I had an interesting meeting with Dyslexia Scotland's Adult Network (Glasgow) recently to discuss software and apps to support memory and organisation. Most members of the group are using some form of technology to note appointments, provide reminders, make short notes and organisation, but the meeting provided an excellent opportunity for people to share information about what worked for them.

Memory

There are various 'brain training' apps, such as Lumosity and Memory Workout, which claim to improve memory skills. Both present various visual exercises which encourage you to remember patterns, objects on a screen, etc. It is worth trying the 'free versions' to see if they work for you.

Ebb and Flow activity in Lumosity

Sequencing Activity in Memory Workout

 

Calendars, Reminders, 'To Do' Lists

Almost everybody in the group made use of a calendar app on a smart phone to record appointments, etc. and to set an alarm to act as a reminder. These were usually built-in, like the iOS Calendar or the Google Calendar, while some people used Outlook for work. For many situations the basic calendar apps were enough, but some people needed additional features, e.g. more space to write about a task, more flexible reminders / alarms, ways to prioritise tasks, etc. A number of 'reminder' apps are available, some better than others at performing different tasks.

Life reminders screenshotOne of the members of the group was using Life Reminders on his Android phone and felt that it had made a huge difference to his life in everything from turning up for important appointments on time to remembering to put recycling bins out on the right day. It is a very useful app, though not particularly visual, making it easy to add new and recurring events and to set reminders. It is only currently available for Android phones, not iPhones or iPads.

 

Remember the Milk (Windows, Mac, iPhone / iPad and Android) [left] and Wunderlist (Windows, Mac iPhone / iPad and Android) [right] are both available across different platforms so that when you update reminders on, say your computer, the information is automatically transferred to your phone. They both have pretty similar features, with an emphasis on grouping similar tasks under subject headings, while still making it easy to find tasks that have to be done "today". They are both quite tricky to get to grips with.

Remember the Milk screenshot Wunderlist screenshot

 

Screenshot from Google KeepI liked the iPad app, Forgetful, which was easy to use and had options to create reminders with text, audio and video, but it is not currently available. Google Keep (Windows, iPhone/iPad, Android) has similar options for recording notes and tasks, also allowing notes to be colour coded for easy recognition. One nice feature is the automatic transcription of audio notes into text, using Google's speech recognition. It automatically synchronises data across different devices, provided that they are online. Reminders and deadlines can be assigned to individual notes, but it doesn't appear to be possible to assign different times to the various items on a To Do list, unfortunately.

 

Screenshot of Clear appMany people want to make To Do lists, in which they can prioritise certain items, or set specific deadlines for particular tasks, with reminders. Clear (iPhone / iPad only) is a very visual app that can do this job very well, allowing you to colour code tasks according to priority. It also allows tasks to be grouped together under different headings. I like this app, but have an issue with it. Clear is not very intuitive to use and you have to pay attention to the help screens that appear when you first open the app - as it is very hard to get them back!

Taking notes

AudioNote screen shotPeople with dyslexia often find it hard to take notes in a meeting, or a lecture at college or university. A few years ago, it was common for people to record meetings or lectures on tape, or with a dictaphone, but technology has moved on. Many students use a Livescribe Smart Pen to make an audio recording of a lecture, while noting key points and making quick drawings linked directly to the relevant part of the audio recording. AudioNote (Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android) can perform similar tasks, recording an audio track, while the student can make typed or handwritten notes and add photos or drawings, all linked to the audio recording.

Get organised!

So far, I hope this blog will help you make better use of calendar apps and reminders, to create and prioritise To Do lists and to take notes in a meeting or lecture, but what about organising the vital information you need for all the other aspects of your life? You're going to need something pretty powerful for this and there are two main contenders: Microsoft OneNote and EverNote. If you are in a school or an office that uses Microsoft Office and you have a Microsoft account, then it makes sense to use OneNote, otherwise, there is a good case for considering Evernote. My main focus in this blog is going to be on OneNote.

OneNote on a Mac computerOneNote (Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android) can be looked on as a giant, electronic ring-binder, with subject dividers into which you can put electronic documents, links to web pages, audio files, videos and all sorts of general information resources. Typically, you would start with an electronic notebook, which you can divide into different sections (topics). Any number of pages can be added to each section. More sections and pages can be added whenever you need them. I tend to use OneNote to store useful web addresses, notes from emails and other useful snippets that I would otherwise probably forget, categorised into different sections, but in a school OneNote could become an electronic jotter, storing information on every subject, with a page in each subject for homework. OneNote automatically synchronise between different devices so that information added to your notebook on a computer will be available on an iPad within seconds. OneNote can look quite different on different devices, but most people soon get used to this.

 

Tags: organisation, memory, ipad, android,

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