By Sara Jamieson, Assistant Program Director CIP Bloomington
In the age of smartphone technology, it is critical to know how to use our devices not just for communication purposes, but also to help us organize our lives, stay up-to-date with our school and personal schedules, and keep track of information and routines. There are quite a few ways a phone or tablet can help individuals support their executive functioning skills leading to more productive and independent lives.
In the current world, there is a high expectation to have access to information immediately. Remembering personal information like our social security number, multiple logins, passwords, and other crucial information is essential to be able to navigate our daily lives. Google Drive and Keeper: Password Manager are both great applications that can supplement our working memory and take the memorization out of the 21st century expectations.
With Google Drive, you can hold important documents (non-sensitive information), school work, pictures, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other working documents in one place. You can access these on your phone but also from any computer and be ready to work at any time. And the best part, all Google Drive files automatically save! No worries about accidentally losing all your hard work.
Keeper: Password Manager
A great safe way to keep all your logins, and other sensitive information in one place is to use an encrypted application. Keeper is a safe encrypted application you can use to hold website sign ins, but also custom fields like college ID number. Sensitive documents like birth certificates, and tax records can also be uploaded. This is a great way to keep all necessary documentation in one place, and avoid losing important information.
Goal Directed Persistence
Keeping up with healthy routines can be difficult for everyone. Some of us may want to drink more water while others want to stop a habit of biting their nails. Regardless of how small or big a habit an individual wants to work on, these applications can help encourage and track success and set up healthy habits and routines.
Done: A Simple Habit Tracker
Done is a simple to use habit tracker and can be customized to track any habit one wants to begin, end, or change. With a simple click you can track every time you accomplish your goal, and look back and reflect overtime your success rate. You can also set up reminders for certain days of the week and times of every day for recurring habits.
My Fitness Pal is more specific to tracking diet, exercise and water intake.
This is a great app where you can set your own personal goals to either sustain current weight, lose weight, or gain weight depending on your health needs. It has nutrition information and easy to adjust portion sizes to track food intake, exercise and water with insight into how each choice made impacts your health in real time.
In today’s world sustaining focus can be very difficult. With quick videos, clickbait articles, and the fast-paced consumer world, focusing on tasks can become very difficult. These applications can help build your focus and help you complete tasks where your undivided attention and focus is needed.
This app is a simple way to track your focus when not using your phone. When you open up the app and start your focus session, a small tree will start to grow. The longer you leave your phone unattended, the more trees will grow and the bigger your forest becomes. This encourages you to continue to focus on your specific task and unplug. Bonus! You can also earn points in your focus sessions which later can be spent to plant real trees around the world.
Flipd- Keep Focused
Flipped is a great way to set and track weekly focus goals. You can categorize your time focused from school tasks to meditation. You can also track your sleeping hours. Focus audio files, like nature or zen music, are also available to use while meeting your focus goal. Overtime you can monitor how your focus trends at different parts of the day, and during specific tasks.
In the current fast-paced world, it is imperative we have great time management skills. Keeping a routine, and completing all necessary daily tasks can be challenging if one struggles with organization and time management. The following applications are great tools to set up routines, reminders, and give a sense of relief when the anxiety of the daily routine is facing us head on.
If you have Gmail, then you already have Google Calendar, (the app for which can be downloaded on your phone) an amazing tool for remembering and scheduling daily appointments and reminders for routines and tasks. You can set up alerts to remind you what is coming up in the next ten to thirty minutes. It is simple to use, and can set up repeating appointments and reminders, while also being a great way to be able to reflect back on what occurred in the past.
Cleaning and managing household tasks can feel overwhelming and challenging to remember everything needing to be done. With OurHome you can simply click on tasks you need to do (no typing necessary!) and it will generate a simple list you can check off. You can set up recurring tasks, due dates, and reminders to help stay on top of those day to day cleaning needs.
Planning and Prioritizing
Shopping and gathering all necessary personal items can be very overwhelming. Remembering to buy toilet paper, pick up your prescriptions, and buy enough supplies to make a healthy lunch every day can be difficult to keep all in your head. With these apps, you can set up recurring grocery lists, and reminders to pick up all necessary items and manage a healthy routine.
Keeping track of when medication needs to be taken or refilled at the pharmacy is important for many individuals. This app allows you to set up your medication routine and will send you alerts and reminders to take your medications and refill your prescriptions. You can also add additional people to get alerts if a medication has not been taken. This allows caregivers to still have oversight while giving an individual the freedom to manage their own medication routine.
Grocery List (SHOP)
Many grocery stores have apps that you can download and can also help
save money with coupons. This app is very simple to use and can set up recurring grocery lists. Using the Grocery List app, it automatically groups together food items based on the category assigned, allows you to easily create new lists that already have your most commonly used items, and list everything you need from food to personal items. Your local grocery store should also have an app that you can use, which will allow you to clip digital coupons and review what is on sale.
Emotional Control and Metacognition
Mental health is vital for everyone to live healthy and productive lives. Being able to identify how we feel and think is essential for everyone to be healthy productive individuals. These applications support awareness of personal feelings and thoughts, while also offering simple and easy tips on how to improve mental status from stress management to maintaining a healthy sleep routine.
Youper, a great way to track daily emotions and what is causing emotions is a great way to start learning your own thought process. You can also do mini anxiety and depression check-ins to track your overall mood over time. After interacting with Youper for a few weeks, it will lay out the patterns of your emotions so it will become easier to identify what situations produce anxiety, frustration, or sadness and give more insight on how to better prepare for all situations.
Headspace is a great way to practice meditation, deep breathing, and manage good sleep routines. In this application you can practice anxiety management, stress relief, and how to control feelings of anger or frustration. With simple easy to use techniques individuals can start learning simple tools that can be used in any scenario.
These apps are all very helpful, and can be useful in many different ways. However, everyone is different, and not everyone can find benefit from the same type of support. We encourage you to explore these applications, as well as other applications and websites that can help support your own executive functioning skill development.
Sara Jamieson has worked in the field of learning differences for over a decade in many settings including one on one tutoring, preschool teacher, paraeducator, and CIP Bloomington Head Student Advisor. She now holds the role of Assistant Program Director at CIP Bloomington.