5 iPad Features Designed to Help You Focus and Boost Productivity

5 iPad Features Designed to Help You Focus and Boost Productivity
Credit: Samuel Suresh/YouTube

We’re well into the groove of things for 2022 now. And returning to work and study for another year can be a kind of daunting experience. Productivity levels may be a little lower than usual, and motivations waning. But we’re here to help give you a bit of a mental boost with some tips relating to productivity and digital note-taking on iPad.

If you’re an iPad user who is keen to bring their digital note-taking ability to master-level, keep reading.

Note-taking and study tips from a pro

Samuel Suresh is a fifth-year Western Sydney University science and business student who has built something of a following for himself because of his creative digital note-taking approach. He has a YouTube following of over 291K because of his skills here.

As part of a recent Student Edge iPad Challenge, Suresh has shared his best tips and tricks for creative note-taking:

  1. Choose the note-taking app that works for you – when you’re ready to take your notes to the next level, there are plenty of apps out there for every note-taking style.
  2. Get creative when developing visual notes – you can do this by:
    – Mindmaps allow you to arrange your thoughts and reinforces the connections between them.
    – Tree diagrams help to organise information, see the hierarchy of categories visually represented and is great for seeing how smaller details fit into the bigger picture.
    – To take a concept to the next level, draw a simplistic model or diagram and annotate. This will help take words from a textbook and bring them to life.
  3. The Lasso Tool – allows you to start out with a messy page and then slowly bring order to the chaos by giving you the ability to copy and paste what you’ve drawn or written, change the layout of text and change the colour of hand-written text.

5 iPad features that will boost study and note-taking ability

Tab Groups ipad note taking productivity
Image supplied

Take advantage of the Apple Pencil for note-taking

Studies clearly show that taking written notes is far more effective than typed notes when it comes to information retention. However, what you may not realise (I certainly didn’t) is that recent observations in taking notes on paper versus writing notes on iPad indicate that students may actually prefer digital note-taking. A rate of 9 out of 12 chemistry students reported enjoying using the iPad more in a recent study.

iPad users in this study also outperformed their peers in both lecture and laboratory assessments.

So, in short. You should be taking written notes if you want to remember things, but doing so on an iPad may actually be the most effective way.

Quick Note is king

Swipe from the bottom right corner of your screen (using your finger or Pencil) and a Quick Note will pop up, without taking you out of the app you were originally working from.

Once in the Notes app, you can add in hand-written notes and live links, or even copy words from photos using Live Text (available in iPadOS 15) and paste them into the note. You also have the option to sketch, add in photos, use a ruler or grid and make your note collaborative so others can add in thoughts or information.

Arrange your iPad homepage for ultimate productivity

If you’re someone who easily loses focus, you can arrange your homepage so that once you’re in work or study mode, all unnecessary distractions are hidden away.

The Focus feature, which we’ve chatted about before, allows you to structure your day by hours (say, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm) or location (for the time you’re at university). Here, you can choose the apps or widgets that suit your needs – say, Notes and Google Search – and other notifications will be silenced (with exceptions allowed for emergencies, of course).

Get organised with Tab Groups

If you’re one who likes to keep 700 tabs open at a time (guilty), Tab Groups is here to help keep that chaos organised. Essentially, you can drag and drop related tabs into groups so you can curate your browsing according to the topic.

  • Tap the Show Sidebar button to open the sidebar.
  • Tap the Tab Groups button in the top-right corner of the sidebar.
  • Choose an option, then name your new Tab Group.

Apps for note-taking and study

If you’re after apps that’ll help improve your note-taking ability or boost your study capacity, there are loads of incredible options on offer. Here are some of the more popular apps you can work with.

All descriptions are via the app store. 

For note-taking: 

  • Notion (free) – write, plan & get organised in one place. Customise Notion to work the way you do.
  • GoodNotes 5 (A$12.99) – with iCloud, your digital notes will be synced on all your devices, making the GoodNotes app the perfect partner to access your digital notes on your computer. GoodNotes also lets you create and study flashcards using Spaced Repetition.
  • Notability (free) – powerful, yet wonderfully simple note-taking and PDF annotation.
  • Noted – Record Every Moment(free) – Noted transforms your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch into a powerful voice notes recording tool. It’s the best place to record timestamped audio and dictate ideas on the go, perfect for students, working professionals, journalists, podcasters, and songwriters.
For productivity:  
  • Focus – Time Management (free) – the best time manager for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac. Focus is the most elegant and professional way to get more wore done, working in highly efficient work sessions, one task at a time.
  • Planny 3 – Smart To Do List (free) – Planny learned everything important from common to do list apps but combines them with intelligence and gamification. Earn productivity points for adding and completing tasks, and also lose them if you shift tasks or forget them.
  • Streaks (A$7.99) – the to-do list that helps you form good habits.
For learning: 
  • Quizlet Flashcards & Learning (free) – with new expert explanations, an AI Learning Assistant and our ever-effective flashcards, get a suite of science-backed study tools at your fingertips.
  • Taskheat (free) – a visual task manager that allows you to break down your responsibilities and link them to build a path to your goals.
For wellbeing: 
  • Endel (free) – is more than just another white noise app. Creating each of its soundscapes in real-time, specifically for you and the moment you’re in, it aims to complement your body’s circadian rhythm helping you to relax when you’re agitated, focus when you’re hitting a slump or drift off to sleep when your mind is racing with thoughts.
  • Uptime (free) – the world’s best information on self-help, personal finance, sex & relationships, brain health, and focus from books, courses, documentaries, and podcasts – in 5 mins or less.

Got any additional study tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below.

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