7 Apps To Learn Something New Every Day

How often to you find yourself aimlessly scrolling on your phone?

Or putting down your phone, only to pick it up again moments later to refresh the same app, then realizing “Wait, why am I on my phone again?”

Or getting distracted by pointless notifications that send you into the same unproductive spiral in search of tiny hits of dopamine, relentlessly, with no end in sight?

Perhaps your phone habits are a bit less bleak, and you’ll limit your screen time, allowing yourself to indulge a bit as you wait for the bus or an appointment.

In any case, there’s no denying that screen time is through the roof compared to ten years ago, not to mention previous generations. Many people spend less time in their own thoughts because it’s so easy to find a distraction…

Have you ever wanted to make better use of all this screen time? There are some common suggestions you’ll see mentioned again and again like Duolingo or reading a book on a Kindle, listening to an audiobook, and so on and so forth… but we’ve come up with some (better) suggestions that will help you learn new things, organize your life, build great habits, and more.

Before we dive in, just a few quick works on what we mean by “learn something new”. There are many different ways to learn. Some people learn best by sitting and listening to a lecture, others learn best by doing, and there’s plenty of space in-between. We’re going to include some apps that can help you learn by doing, learn by reading, or simply learn by finding some different ways to approach day to day life, to unlock new habits, ways to be more productive, and more.

With that out of the way, let’s get into it…

1. Absorb Books in a Few Minutes with Headway

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Does anyone else have this persistent, nagging voice in the back of their head saying “I really need to read more…”? A few moments of downtime throughout the day is hardly enough time to make progress in a book, or to throw on an audiobook… but it’s more than enough time to breeze through some of the book summaries that you’ll find in Headway.

Instead of spending hours reading a book, absorbing all of the fluff, trying to parse out the key important parts and probably losing interest before you even finish it, you can just pull it up in Headway because they’ve gone through this process for you.

Now, if you love sitting down and truly enjoy the process of reading, especially for fictional stories, then this might not scratch the itch, but in terms of books that you read about business, productivity, finance, and countless other styles of nonfiction, then this is a fantastic way to take away the core value from a book in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.

Finishing a useful and valuable book that will teach you and improve your life doesn’t have to be a huge event that you need to set aside time for numerous evenings to accomplish. Headway brings it to the palm of your hands, and right into your headphones so you can listen to thorough and thouhtful summaries that will bring you the best of each book they cover.

If you feel like reading the summaries, you can do that – but the real magic is the ability to listen to them.

Personally, I really loved the knowledge shared in the book Atomic Habits. In comparison to the full book, the summary from Headway is perfect. If I’m reading for pleasure, it will be on a topic other than habits and productivity, but I still find it very useful and important to learn about how my brain works, and how I can best use it to my advantage.

I wanted to check out the summary of a book I had actually read, and this was a great refresher – so I’m going to be looking for other books I’ve read, too, and also have the confidence that they’ve done an excellent job with their summaries to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.

2. Learn a 200-year-old Secret Code with Morse Mania

Morse code is a way to communicate letters, spelling out words, without speaking. It’s essentially a series of beeps, at varying lengths, that translate to different letters and words.

It’s not the most practical thing in the world, but learning a language is a great way to keep your mind active and to keep you in “learning mode”, even if Morse code isn’t something you’re going to be using everyday.

Every now and then, you’ll come across somebody else who has put in the time and effort to learn Morse code. It’s a relatively niche and obscure skill to have, but it can still be fun. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be tapping the table at Starbucks and someone next to you will pick up the code and tap a message back. Not saying that you should learn Morse code just to have a meet cute and to meet the love of your life, but it couldn’t hurt?

The More Mania app is available on the Google Play and Apple App stores.

3. Get Cultured with Google Arts and Culture

The Google Arts and Culture website is an interesting project that allows you to explore all sorts of art across eras. It’s great for people who have a strong interest in art and some background in it, but it also makes art feel more accessible for people who are just starting to dip their toes in.

It can be consumed in a quick, bite-size manner, and can be a great jumping-off point to more in-depth learning.

I love the idea of getting into the habit of browsing Google Arts and Culture everyday, and then picking one piece of art, artist, topic, style, or place, and taking note of it, and doing some further learning about it throughout the day when you have a few moments, or before bed.

Art can awaken so many different feelings and emotions, it can draw out old memories, it can give you inspiration, it’s just a very enriching way to use your time and this website makes it quick and easy for anyone to enjoy.

4. Complete Courses on Coursera

Coursera courses can be very hit or miss, some of them feel more like a promotion for the company that hosts them (For example, there may be a bookkeeper course that’s put on by a specific software company, or a project management course created by a massive tech giant), but there’s still a lot of good info that you can learn in small chunks. Beyond that, you can also get full degrees, with tuition costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Coursera has a big collection of courses available, and they vary in quality and scope and usefulness. If you’re looking to learn practical skills more so than having a valuable degree, this is a great choice for self-employed people and entrepreneurs to brush up on certain concepts and skills.

Everything you’ll find here can also be learned by watching YouTube videos and such, and the certificates themselves aren’t overly valuable in the grand scheme of things, however it is convenient to have all the lessons compiled into one place.

Coursera offers financial support for many of their courses, which can cover varying degrees of the total cost. Let’s go through an example below, for the “Prompt Engineering Specialization” course offered by Vanderbilt University.

To start the process, look for the text that says “Financial aid available” next to the “Enroll” button. (Note: It says you can enroll for free, but this is just a short free trial, after which you’ll be billed the full amount unless you go for the financial aid instead).

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After clicking the financial aid link, you’ll have to choose which segment of the course you’re applying for. Start with the first one, and once you’ve completed it, you can apply for financial aid for the other parts of the course. In this case, the enter course costs $66.

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The next screen will tell you how much of the course is covered by Coursera’s financial aid. In this case, it doesn’t cover the full price, but it will cover 75% (which means you’ll pay $16.50 instead of $66).

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After confirming which course you’re applying for, you’ll have to fill out the following form and then wait roughly a week or two for approval, so it’s good to get a head start on this before you’re ready to start learning because there will be a wait. You could fire-up the Coursera free trial in that time, but don’t forget to cancel because they will bill you and you might not be able to get a refund if you forgot to cancel your membership before the trial ended.

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It might be a good idea to express why you’re interested in this course, how it will help you to get the financial aid, and basically just let them know what you’re going to do in order to take full advantage of this opportunity and why it’s important to you. You don’t need to go into a huge sob story or anything like that, but it could be helpful to explain your situation and how this course will help you improve your life.

5. Dabble in a Little Bit of Everything with AFAIK

AFAIK.io is a website that maps out knowledge in a way that you can explore visually, as you navigate through countless “blocks”, or groupings of blocks, that can not only help you learn about one thing at a time, but also learn in a contextually way by tying different ideas and concepts together. It’s very well-organized and a unique approach, you’ll want to just check it out for yourself to see first-hand. Let your mind and curiosity run wild, and see where it takes you.

It’s designed for lifelong learners, and I imagine many people here reading this article right now will fit into this category, since we’re all people who aren’t happy to just stare at our phone screens without making any measurable progress or improvements to our lives day after day. If you’ve ever felt the itch that you could be doing something better with your time, AFAIK.io is a great place to start.

6. Learn about Medicine with MEDizzy

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MEDizzy is an app for medical professionals, med students, and people who are interested in learning more about medicine and the human body. This is more niche than the other options on this list, but it can be great for med students who have to wait in a busy city at bus stops or train stations, as a way to brush up on medical cases and improve their knowledge.

Like our biceps, the brain can be worked out and trained. The more you use it, the stronger it will get. Now, if you’re cramming and studying and operating on almost no sleep already, it might actually be better for you to use the downtime to relax, or scroll your social feeds. I know, I know… this article started with a condemnation of a mindless-scrolling mindset, but rest is also very important for our brains (just like our biceps!)

7. Learn About Your Habits and Routines with TickTick

TickTick is a great app that, at its core, is a to-do list and task tracker that can be very simple, or slightly less-simple if you choose to set it up in such a way.

But under the hood, it has some great habit tracking features, along with day-planning and tools to help you prioratize the most important things that you need to get done. You can also use it for notes, but it’s much better for lists, task-tracking, and for habits. It’s not really a replacement for Notion, but it can work side-by-side with certain apps you already use, specifically some of the biggest calendar apps.

Anyways, the magic here is using it for pomodoros to track your daily focus, and setting up habits (available as a premium feature), because the habit tracker is really simple to use, and helps you see your progress. You can use it to track learning, projects, exercise, and really anything else that you can imagine.

Spending a few minutes looking over your statistics when you have down time is a great way to gain helpful insights into yourself.

For all the time we spend learning and working, how much time have you put into learning about how you work best?

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About the Author

Ken Jayes is a lifelong tech enthusiast. He's the guy who family and friends call when their tech isn't working. With his role as the main contributor to RSSCloud.org, Ken is now your tech guy, too.