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App Roundup: Helpful Suggestions for 2019

 ADHD Weekly, January 24, 2019


Smartphones can distract us. But when you have ADHD, they can be a very helpful tool. Your app store offers plenty of handy apps. Most are free or cost less than $5. We looked at several that might help make your life easier.

Smartphone executive function

You can use your smartphone as an extension of your executive functions. Various apps can improve your ability to organize and store information, schedule your work and send yourself reminders, and manage time and money.

“I’m confident in saying that simply possessing a smartphone does not make all of life’s time management and organizational struggles magically disappear,” says reading specialist Lauren Dewey-Rosenfeld. “But the truth is that a smartphone is an investment. Not just of the financial sort, but in the sense that it takes time, effort, and no small amount of reflection to set up your smartphone with a system that will give you what you need.”

“In today’s chaotic and fast paced society, one of the most common complaints is the struggle to keep up with it all,” says Amy Barry, writing for BridgingApps. “With the distraction of technology, it can be very difficult to stay focused, especially for individuals diagnosed with ADHD. Executive functioning, having the ability to plan, organize, remember and carry out tasks, does not come naturally for everyone. Make the best use of technology at your fingertips by downloading apps to help you stay on track.”

App Roundup

Last year, we listed promising apps and computer programs. To start this year’s list, we reviewed the best from the past two years and added a few new apps for your consideration.

Setting routines and reminders

  • Routinist lets you schedule goal-setting and habit-forming activities as part of your daily routine. It also helps you make decisions and improve your sleep habits—even reminding you when it’s time to turn in and get up.
  • Remember the Milk is like a long sticky note you don’t have to worry about losing. It sends reminders of things you need to accomplish by text, email, instant messaging, or Twitter, and works together with your online calendar.
  • EpicWin. They say life is a game—EpicWin offers the chance to “level up” in your life as you chase the items on your personal to-do list. If you find that novelty and reward are motivators for you, this app could fit your needs.

Focusing and task management

  • 30/30 is a task manager that builds in breaks. Once you start it, you work on a project for 30 minutes. Then you get a 30-minute break before starting another focused 30 minutes.
  • Engross could help you cut out distractions—or at least refocus yourself by tapping your phone when you feel a distraction coming on. Engross keeps track when you tap, allowing you to plan to work at the times when you’re most likely to be able to focus.
  • Mindnode allows you to create a visual image of thoughts or projects are collecting in your brain, making it easier for you to retain them and then act on them later.

Managing social media

  • Freedom will completely block all the apps and websites you program it to avoid. It works on both smartphones and computers. It also allows you to schedule when you want it to function.
  • The creators of Flipd say their app will give you a “digital nudge” to stay off your phone. Flipd can lock your screen for a length of time you choose, or you can set up the Full Lock, which will cause distracting social media and games to vanish completely—at least until the time is up.
  • Screen Time (Apple products) and Quality Time (Android products) will give you a daily or weekly report of how many hours you spend on social media, entertainment, and productivity tools.

Money management

Bill paying and budgeting

  • Mint and Prism make sure you don’t miss bill payments. Once set up, either one will track all your bills and send you reminders. Prism has a feature that lets you pay bills directly from its app. Both also help you create a budget to see where all your money is going.
  • Vault is a budget-planning tool. It uses a calendar to show you how much money you can expect to have in your account on a given date in the future.
  • YNAB (You Need a Budget) helps you prioritize spending and saving before the money is even in your pocket. YNAB’s website offers a short, free budget-related workshop online each day.

Saving money

  • Qapital lets you choose a goal and then create rules for how you’ll save for it. It’s tied to your bank account so it all happens automatically.
  • Spending Tracker shows you where you spend money and make purchases. Spending Tracker does require you to enter things manually. PocketGuard’s “In My Pocket” feature collects all your financial data and lets you know how much money you have left to spend each day.
  • Wally is another way to see where your money goes and keep daily and long-term budgets. It uses charts and graphics, which can be a lifesaver if you understand information better when you can see it as a picture.
  • If you pay for most of your expenses with hard cash, you might want Shoeboxed, which lets you scan receipts and track your spending.

Looking for more?

Join the discussion: What are some of your favorite smartphone apps to help with your ADHD symptoms?