Episode 33: Executive Functioning and Apple Apps
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Executive Functioning and Apple Apps
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- Cognitive function following SARS-CoV-2 infection in a population-representative Canadian sample https://tinyurl.com/2p8av6wr
- Assessment of Cognitive Function in Patients After COVID-19 Infection https://tinyurl.com/nf56m34v
- Rapid vigilance and episodic memory decrements in COVID-19 survivors https://tinyurl.com/6r29ndya
- COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems https://tinyurl.com/y2ersef3
- The Lancet reported “Cognitive deficits in people that have recovered from covid-19” https://tinyurl.com/6tbmj8tk
- BulletMap Academy: https://bulletmapacademy.com/
- Learning Specialist Courses:https://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
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Erica: Welcome to the personal brain trainer podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.
Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran, and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.
Erica: Come learn how to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages. This podcast is brought to you by Goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at, www.Learningspecialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.
Darius: This podcast is brought to you by Bulletmap Academy. We help children and adults organize their thoughts creatively and unlock their dyslexia's potential with the world's first online Dyslexia school for study skills.
Erica: So, Darius, what are we going to talk about today?
Darius: I've been looking forward to having this conversation with you, Erica, for weeks now. Since our last recording, I talked a lot about Apple Notes, apple apps, and assistive technology that is now in our pockets. And I'd really like to talk about that and executive functions for especially adults. Really, the focus today is using the apps in your phone to remember everything important. And often people who are very highly creative, imaginative, neurodiverse, dyslexia, ADHD, et cetera, often we are more on the improvisation, creative, adaptable side of things. And then when it comes to learning, the ability to remember everything important, remember everything important notes, important meetings, important things to do, these are all executive function skills that often people like myself have to learn much more intentionally than other people. And so I really want to talk about that and how to use what is called assistive technology in the realms of us, Erica, you and I, and other teachers and coaches, there's technology, and then there's this thing called assistive technology, and I think it's useful to talk about those terms as well as the actual apps. There's three apps I'd really like to concentrate on are Apple Notes, Apple Reminders, and Apple Calendar, which has just suddenly, in the last month with iOS 16, become very powerful productivity tools compared to what they were like just six months ago. Six months ago, other tools like Google and Notion and Obsidian and whatever else people were using for their second brains were way better than what Apple had. But, um, Apple has done something very significant. I just want to talk through all of that with you.
Erica: I love that. I think that's going to be extremely helpful. And I think that it's not just tools. It's funny. When we think of assistive technology, we often think of, oh, that's for people with disabilities, but in fact, it really can be a second brain, and it can be really supportive. And if you have any weaknesses of any kind. You can maximize your productivity, your potential by using a lot of these tools because it almost becomes that backup system that you can rely on, but it also relieves your working memory to some extent so that you're not having to juggle too many balls. But I think, yes, of course it's going to be wonderful for anybody with any type of learning disability, executive dysfunctions. But I think it's also really important to note that it's great as we get older and our cognitive functions diminish to some degree, it can actually help to supplement and can keep our brains strong. Because although it can be used as a crutch, so to speak, depending on how you use it, it can actually be used to strengthen your brain.
Darius: Yeah, and I think in our last podcast we were talking about how our working memory can be overloaded by other things like health concerns, anxiety, the COVID effect, brain fog. These are all having an impact on our executive function and often with working memory because our small working memory, everyone's got a limited working memory, everyone's got a limited doorway to the house of their mind. And some people's doorway is wide and some people's narrow. But if you're putting tons of stuff at that doorway, it's still getting uh, blocked by a lot of information. And that's one of the interesting factors that I've concluded after the last couple of years with you. I've spent a lot of time thinking about executive function and how what I do already is executive function training, but how to actually maximize what I'm doing already. And I'm a mac person. I really like the Apple devices because they're just intuitive and they do what they say they're going to do and they reliably do it compared to the Windows days where it would reliably do it 97% of the time, but that 3%. Oh my goodness. That is just so painful. And it often happens at an important time. It's like going out on your car and your car is pretty reliable, but then it conks out on the road on the way to an important meeting. It's just a terrible way to live, quite frankly, when you can have something more reliable. This is not an advert for Apple. I'm not sponsored by Apple, but I am a fanboy, as it were. So, working memory, let's get to the first thing that I think is super important. There are three things I think every person needs in life to achieve their goals. They need to be able to take notes, they need to be able to do a todo list, and they need to be able to turn up to meetings on time. Now that might seem like stating the obvious, but uh, there's a lot of people in this world are finding it hard to take useful notes, finding it hard to keep track of all the things they've got to do and finding it hard to remember who they're meeting, when they're meeting, and diary management and so on. And there are certain people in this world who are very systematic natural organizers that would laugh at this and go, what? Seriously? You're a 50 year old man. Uh, and you have difficulties with this? And I'm like, hands up. I have to be super intentional about taking notes, making to do lists, and scheduling my calendar, because if I'm not intentional, it falls apart. And I'm not saying I'm an expert over all of this, I'm good, but I have to be intentional. There's other people who are naturally good that don't need to be as intentional, they're just automatic at it. And it's very important to understand that there is a difference. People are wired differently in their brain. I think it's useful for you, Erica, to say something on this. What's your take?
Erica: Yeah, I've done a lot of research on executive functions and one thing I can say that I've seen across the research, and when they've really kind of mapped it out across the lifespan, is that all three aspects of executive functioning being working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility aren't fully developed until your mid twenty s m. And then at about 40, it starts to diminish again. So now this is averages, and we don't necessarily have to be averages. For example, most first graders have a working memory of only two items or chunks. And however, there are going to be those kids that are exceptional and that they can do more than that. So I feel that my executive functions are better than they were ten years ago when I was in my forty s. Now, in my fifty s, I feel like they're improving because I'm intentionally, as you use the word intention. If we just sit back and just allow ourselves to age, then yeah, we'll probably follow that what they suggest, which is a diminish. But if we choose to exercise our cognition and be conscious about our cognition, then we can direct it in ways where we can actually become more efficient. And I really am a firm believer that even the elderly, if they're experiencing some diminish in cognition, they can regain it. But they have to be conscious. If they're subconscious, then they're repeating old patterns and they're not developing new neural pathways. But if you're conscious, you develop new neural pathways and then that helps to keep the brain young.
Darius: I was sharing some of these techniques with my mum and her husband on Apple notes and reminders and calendar, and they're like, oh my goodness, that's amazing. Oh, I'm going to use this, I'm going to use that, and so on. So let's get stuck into the technical stuff here. So first of all, I think it's really important to understand the importance of working memory when it comes to tech, because sometimes we can have all sorts of clever, complicated notetaking systems management systems and so on. But they can have so many little steps in them that they use up your working memory just navigating to the point where you can take a note that you then forget the thing you're thinking about. Now this might sound absolutely absurd, but let's just take a real case example. Here's a real case example. You're in the doctor's surgery, and I was in the doctor's surgery. Today you're in a doctor's surgery. They're telling you important stuff, okay, you got to do this. This will be helpful, that will be helpful, et cetera. And you're like, I'm going to remember all this. Um, this is important. I'm going to remember it. What's going to happen is that memory automatically is going to degrade. So you've got to take some notes. So what do you do? Use your working memory to go, all right, I got to take some notes. What am I going to do? Take a piece of paper and I'll write it down on a bit of paper and shove it in my pocket? Or even decide deciding what you're going to do is using up some of your working memory and the rest of your working memory is trying to hold on to some of the things you've got to be doing. She says, Right, here's the urine test. You've got to be doing this here's this, you've got to be doing that, here's that. And I'm like, oh my goodness, I know my working memory is three. So I'm like, there is no way I'm going to drop the ball here. So what do I do? I need to have a plan in advance of that, of what I'm going to do. And my plan is I put it in apple notes. Now, a lot of people will go, Duh. Uh, yes, Darius, of course you do. And because they just do that automatically because Apple Notes is there. But there are also a ton of people like myself who didn't use Apple Notes. I didn't use it up until about four months ago properly because it was deficient. There were other apps on my iPad or on my phone for taking notes that were better. However, they were about two or three clicks away. And, um, what does two or three clicks mean? Two or three clicks means two or three thoughts. Temporary thoughts. What does two or three temporary thoughts mean? That's two or three slots in your working memory. And if your working memory is three and you've used up two or three of them, what's happened to the thought one of them or, uh, two of them has dropped off that tray of your working memory. And so this is a constant challenge. However, Apple have just souped up Apple Notes significantly in iOS 16. So if you're listening to this and you're going to look at Apple Notes and use it, and you're on iOS 15 and you've not done the upgrade, you won't get a lot of these benefits. So please upgrade to iOS 16. If you're listening to this in two, three years time, it will be even better by then, of course. So what's fascinating to me is that I can now take notes at, uh, the speed of thought.
Erica: So Darius, how do you do this? How do you do this? How do you open Apple notes? How does that work?
Darius: Well, Siri has just upped the game. Siri used to be a real pain in the backside in that, uh, it was like Microsoft in the past works some of the time and then lets you down the rest of the time and often at the key moment. Sorry to bash you Microsoft, but you've got a lot to answer for. But now Siri has started to become a little bit more reliable in key areas. Okay? So first thing is, if I'm thinking about something, I need to take a note. I would highly recommend you just say, I know where I'm going to put it. I'm going to put it in Apple Notes, okay? And you move Apple Notes right to the bottom bar of your iPhone. So it's right down in the bottom. So you open your phone, there it is, in the same place all the time, apple Notes. So what I've done now is I've got Apple Notes on one side, then reminders and then calendar. Apple Notes is for taking notes of important things. Apple Reminders is for important, not urgent. And Apple calendar is important. Urgent. Who's the president? Eisenhower. It's the Eisenhower way. Matrix. So Eisenhower was asked how he organized himself. And the way Eisenhower organized himself was, he said, I divide things into things that are important or urgent. And there's a grid. So some things are important and urgent, and some things are important and not urgent. But then there are some things that are urgent and not important and some things that are not important and not urgent. And so just by going through that categorization of what's coming to you and saying, is this important? Yes. Is it urgent? Yes. Where does it go? And I'm even doing that with my apps now. So instead of putting into a box on a grid, I now say if something is important, if it's important, notes. If it's important, not urgent, it goes into reminders. It's an important thing. And if it's important and urgent, it gets given a time and a date, put in the calendar and connected with someone. So I simply put at the bottom of my phone. Okay, but you can also take notes with Siri and you can hit the side button. You can open up Siri and say, I'm going to say Sigh from now on because if anyone's listening to this with the microphone, it'll be switching on your phone all the time and uh, playing havoc with your devices. So I'll just say PSI instead of Siri. You can say hey. Sigh. And it opens up and say, take a note. And you can dictate a note while you're thinking about something without even clicking anything. You're just using your voice. And I think this is one of the useful things about where assistive technology and technology itself merge. Because in the past, people had to have very expensive computers, very expensive software to do speech, to text and speech commands and so on, to use the assistive function of being able to speak at your tech to make it do stuff. And there are people in this world, especially folk with Dyslexia or ADHD, who have smaller working memories or have got processing difficulties with words, and slow processing with reading, slow processing with comprehension, et cetera. They can read just fine, but they just need to hear it so they can have more head space to think it through so that's coming to the device.
Erica: So what do I do? Like, okay, so I can say, hey, size, you said, so we're not, uh, triggering everybody's phones. Take a note. Now, I have all these notes. How do I get them organized?
Darius: That's where I recommend this book called Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte. Have you heard of this book?
Darius: So I think you need to be quite intentional about developing a second memory. Okay? And if you think about executive functioning skills, a, uh, digital memory, if you think about executive functioning skills, you've got working memory inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility. I think we need to build that into the way we do our tech as well, and develop a second brain. And so there's a lot of people who are now thinking about their devices as a second brain. Now, this is very different from saving something onto your hard drive that some way you'll find it and search for it and eventually find it and so on. This is very different than that. The goal is to limit yourself to only saving important stuff into what you call your second brain or your digital memory. You still have all the other documents on your hard drive and BOOKMARKS, but the key is gathering everything into one place. Not one device, but one place. And Apple are becoming really good at letting you do that. So what's happened at the moment in our digital lives is our storage systems are so fractured and scattered would be better with we've got BOOKMARKS on our desktop, on our browsers, we've got saved things in Facebook or TikTok, or we've got emails that we're saving things into, we've got documents that we're saving. We're doing digital notes where I've got a journal that I'm handwriting stuff into. I've got post it notes stuck on the wall. And you just keep going. There's information all over the place, but it gets to the point where you're like, oh my goodness, all my important stuff is scattered. The moment I change location or change device or something like that, I feel a bit lost. And there needs to be much more intentionality. Now, some people don't need all of that stuff to actually remember everything. Like, my wife doesn't need it. It's helpful to her, but she doesn't need it. I need it. I need to externalize my memory. And, um, so it's often people like me who really need it, who start pushing forwards and saying, right, I'm going to really make this work.
Erica: But I think it's nice to have a system in place because there are going to be times where anybody needs it. If you're under stress, then your working memory doesn't work so well. As you get older, something might happen and you will kind of want that backup. What if all of a sudden you don't remember your password to something extremely important and you don't have any kind of reliable backup? So what I hear you saying is that we really need to, instead of using many different devices all over the place, really just use one. That way we can actually find what we're looking for. Otherwise we don't know where to go sometimes. Did I put it over there? Did I put it over here? And I guess what you're suggesting is that these three Apple apps are the way to go, because now tell us more about how to use them efficiently.
Darius: So there is a compromise here, okay. And everyone has to face this compromise. What tool am I going to use for the job? And let's say our job, our goal, our target here is, I really want to remember everything important. Okay, let's set the goal. I don't want to remember everything. I want to remember everything important. And that is the key word, what's important. I'm going to concentrate on that. I'm going to focus on what's important. So there's an inhibitory control aspect to this, focusing on what's important. And there's a great deal of freedom in taking notes and so on when you decide, I'm only going to concentrate on what's important. Because the reality is when you take notes, only about 10% of the information that's coming at you is truly important and needs to be remembered. And if you're remembering 50% of the stuff coming at you and you're trying to remember everything, you remember 50% of it. But if you just focus in on saying, I am only going to remember what's important, that's only 10%. Hey, with a 50% memory, you're remembering 100% of what's important. And that's the key here, I think, before you start getting involved in the tech, the goal is remembering what's important. So once you've established that as your goal, you need to decide what your tool is towards that goal. And I had to make a big decision about four months ago because I was using my iPad and good notes and mind mapping and all sorts of different tools on my computer and so on. Mirror for whiteboarding and Asana for task management and Google Calendar for my Calendar, because these were the best at, uh, doing those individual functions. Okay? But I just said all I want to do is remember what's important, not do it the best, most perfect way or whatever. Just remember what's important. And so that's when I made the compromise of going with these three Apple apps, which are probably 30% as capable as these other devices. But the key is I can get stuff in there quickly. So here's the magic of it. When you go into Safari browser, for example, and you're searching for something, you click Share in Safari. It will share that website to your notes, and it will make a note for you when you go and you carry on that thing. And let's just take a scenario that I work with clients, for example. Let's just take a real case scenario of taking notes. Let's say you're going to do a practical project in your home, and you want to put in a stove in your fireplace. Okay? What happens is you go and see a friend's stove, and you go, this is a lovely stove. You take a photo of it, you save it to your camera roll, and then two weeks later, you're scrolling through your camera roll, trying to find that stove. But if you take a photo of the stove and you save two notes, it creates a note, and you type in wood burning stove. That becomes your first note. And then you speak to someone else, and you go onto a website, and you're like, oh, gosh, that's really good. What shall I do with this website? Just think it's good. I must come back to this. I must search for this again. No. Share wood burning stove note. And it just adds it to the bottom of that note and keeps adding different information to the bottom of that note. If I decide, actually, I want to do a little video of another person's stove setup, I can create a video, shoot a video, and save the video into my Apple notes with a little three words at the top saying, cool video of Dennis's stove. I can then, um, search those keywords to find that video, which I can't do in my camera roll.
Erica: I see. Very interesting. So you're not using Google Calendar anymore?
Erica: I would have such a hard time letting go of Google Calendar. There's so many good things about it. And you're using, siri. Not, siri.
Darius: Safari. It's terrible, isn't it?
Erica: Wow. Okay. That's a lot for me to wrap my mind around. But you say that you've done it, you've made the change.
Erica: And it's working.
Darius: Yeah. Uh, it's only working because of iOS 16. If I'd done this before iOS 16, it just would not have worked well at all. I've made an internal shift where I've said, what is more important for me, the ability to capture notes quickly or to have the best place to put them or the best place to do it. And I've just decided internally, the ability to capture something and put it important into the one place quickly is more important to me than anything else now, so if I'm on a website, I share it straight into Apple Notes. If I'm uh, taking useful photo that would normally go onto my camera roll that was just, oh, that's useful. It gets shared onto Apple Notes straight away.
Erica: So you can share a photograph. Like if you get make do the photograph, you then do that extra step to share it to Notes.
Erica: Got it.
Darius: The magic button now is the share icon on Apple is that uh, little it looks like a bucket with an arrow coming out of the top of it. That's the share icon. Now Apple have been very clever with this, okay? You are not allowed to share from Safari to anything other than a native Apple app, uh, like Reminders Calendar or Notes. You're not allowed to share it to Google Calendar. You're not allowed to share it to Notion, you're not allowed to share it to good Notes or any other new app that will come along. They do not allow you to share that information. And the reason why they use and it's probably right, but it's very convenient. The reason why is the security of the information can be intercepted by these other apps if they so wish. And so apparel are being hyper protective of people's personal Notes, personal photos, personal information, and their second brain, as it were. Because we are all going to end up developing our own second brain. And uh, we are already because of our phone and it's going to become easier and easier to access this information as a memory. So Apple are very protective of that. So app developers can't really break into that. So uh, Apple have just increased the usability of Notes. So for example, two months ago you couldn't share a PDF into Apple Notes. That's a pain. Now let's say someone sends a PDF to me and I go, that's a really good PDF. Where am I going to put that? I maybe save that to my downloads or some folder, a random folder on my computer. Now I share it straight to Apple Notes and say cool PDF of shortcuts for audio commands. And there it is in my Apple Notes.
Erica: So that's the key. You have to label it. If you don't label it, you can't find it. If you label it, you can find it because you just have to decide what is the word that I would use if I was looking for it. And then you use that word. And then when you do a search, I'm assuming, is this right on Apple Notes? Because I don't use Apple Notes. If you do a search, then you can find anything you want just by putting in that keyword correct. I see.
Darius: You don't have to, but I would recommend using three words every time you save something to Apple Notes. So if you're going to save a PDF, obviously all of the text within that PDF is searchable within Apple Notes. So even if you didn't write in, uh, a couple of words about a message to yourself, it will still search through the PDF and find stuff in the PDF.
Erica: Oh, that's cool. So that's really helpful for PDF. So it searches through text. Obviously, it can't search through images unless the image has a tag in it.
Darius: It can search through images as well.
Erica: If the image has words.
Darius: Yes. Uh, so that's another good thing that Apple has done. Now they've made all the text inside of your images searchable m. That's good. And copyable. So you can press a word on an image and it will identify it and you can do copy. So if you've got like a photo of, um, a restaurant menu or something and you want to phone the restaurant, you just press on it and it will just select the copy and say, do you want to make the call?
Erica: Wow, that's really cool. But I have this picture in my head of Notes just being this huge trunk with just tons of stuffed in there. What does it look like when you open it up?
Darius: Right. It's interesting. I'm just experimenting with the ideal way of organizing the Notes and developing a real memory. So there's two extremes to this. You can decide what your folder structure is going to be. Okay. And if you look at Tiago fortes Building a Second Brain, he recommends a folder structure based on which I think is quite interesting. A very simplified folder structure. Let me just find it for you.
Erica: Well, as you're looking, it makes me think about it depends on how you process. If you're a very sequential processor, you might want to alphabetize things. If you're a very simultaneous processor, meaning that you like to clump things by likeness or categorizing, you might like titles. So you have to think about what resonates with you. Because some people I know I don't like alphabetizing. It just doesn't resonate with my brain. Whereas categorizing just is wonderful for me. I love having categories where I clump things by likeness. That really appeals to me, at least my brain. And that's kind of how I process.
Darius: What Tiagoforty says here is his defining principle of organizing information into his second brain is always categorized according to how useful it is and what project it will contribute to. So he uses something called Para, which is an acronym for Projects. P. A is area of responsibility, r is resource and A is archive. So just those four areas to organize things. So is it an active project that I'm working on? Often people have seven to twelve active projects that they're working on about five to seven projects. Then there's. Areas of responsibility. And so it could be your family, your health, your business, et cetera. And you categorize areas of responsibility. And then there's resources, general, really useful resources, but you're not quite sure where they go. Like books you might read, things you might do, films you might watch, et cetera. And then there's archive. So maybe a project that you've done and it's finished with, it's not necessarily a place of area of responsibility in your life at the moment anymore, but it goes down into Archive. It can always come back up, but it can go down into Archive. So that's the way he organizes it. The other way that Apple organizes it, which is quite interesting, is there's one forced function that Apple forces you to do within Apple Notes. And I always find it interesting when Apple forces you to do something. It's actually quite rare where they force you to do something. But if they are forcing you to do something, it's probably for a very well thought out reason. And it's useful to figure out what that reason is. And I've been trying to figure it out. So when you go into Notes, at the top of Notes, you can change every single folder in Apple Notes to whatever you like, but there's only one folder you can't change, and that's called all. It's just called all, and then it gives your user name after it, and it's basically got all your Notes in all. Okay, you can't change the name of it. You can't change the way it functions, but I've realized the wisdom in it. So the way all works is every document that you've created is listed in all in the order you made it, and then the order you added information to it. So the latest modified order. So if you're kind of like, gosh, where is that? You can always go back to all and scroll and say, yeah, it was roughly before this and roughly after that. And it's kind of chronological, but it's not quite chronological. It's more, when did I last do something about this? So it's a very useful human way of actually finding stuff with that when you're very disorganized.
Erica: You know what? It's a timeline. It is a timeline where you're updating the timeline. If you pull something from the past and you bring it into the future again. Yes, that's lovely. That's really interesting, and that resonates with me. That sounds really cool.
Darius: So there's so much more to this, but you can go and search YouTube for all sorts of tips on how to use Apple Notes. I don't want to duplicate all of that, but what I do want to communicate here is not just the hacks, but the why, what the motives are, and why you're using that particular tool compared to something else. And the key for me is taking notes at the speed of thought. So as I'm thinking something, I'm googling, I'm searching on a website, I think, oh, gosh, that's quite useful phrase. I select the phrase and I click Share, and it shares it directly to my last note. And then I click Share again of a photo. It will automatically select my previous note that I shared something to, because it's kind of guessing. Well, he's on a run here. He's probably wanting to save it to the same note. And that's another beauty of the forced function of Apple Notes, is it's not completely forced function, but Apple Notes does notes in two ways. You either create a new note for every single thing that happens, which is a bit problematic because you start to have a very fractured notes. Okay? So what they do is they say you can choose to create a new note, or you can add it to your wood stove note. And oh, that's another great resource on the web for the wood stove, for the flu. And that's a really great tool. And I'm going to add it. You can tell I'm just, uh, putting in a wood stove right now. And you can add it to the bottom of your notes, and then you can say, Where is that? Oh, don't be in my woodstove notes. And you can scroll through. Oh, there it is. If there's a price quote, or someone says something interesting, et cetera, it all goes there. If there's a PDF manual, it all goes there.
Erica: You know what bums me out, though? If they only had a word processor like Google does yes. That would make me so happy because I use Google Docs all the time. Although I have to say, you can pretty much find anything in Google Docs. If you just put a word, any document that use that word in, it pops up.
Darius: Yeah, I'm saying this all about Apple. I'm not saying this is exclusive to Apple. Google is really trying to do this as well.
Erica: But if Apple had a word processor as good as Google Docs, then that would make it then there would be four apps instead of three apps. But you're saying but this is really about productivity, because I do use Google Docs as a productivity resource. It's too bad that they don't have a word processor.
Darius: Yes, we've got pages.
Erica: Um, and I guess Pages would work with these in that same way.
Darius: Yes. And, um, the thing with Pages is collaboration has gone to a whole new level as well. So you can collaborate a Pages document like you can with Google Docs now. It's still not the same level as Google Docs, I have to say. And this is where this compromises what's more important to you, taking the note at the speed of thought or finding the ideal app to do that specific task? So I'm not saying do, uh, all your work within Apple ecosystem, but what I've decided is I have to have a reliable way to remember everything crucially important. My family's birthdays, my passwords. You can even lock notes within Apple now so that you could even put passwords in there safely. Now getting so good at this now that they're saying this is the place for everything really important.
Erica: So it's your external memory?
Darius: It's kind of like my external term memory rather than long term memory.
Erica: I've never used pages. I'll have to check that out. But that's interesting because you could add a fourth app to your list of notes, reminders, calendar and pages. How would you feel about that?
Darius: No, I wouldn't. Um, why wouldn't you? First of all, I'm, um, on a Simplification push right now, there's a huge simplicity about focusing in on just what's important.
Erica: I see. And notes work, so you don't need a word processor to capture what's important. I get it. That the notes, in a sense, a word processor, but it's a word processor just for what's important.
Darius: Imagine this. Erica yes, but there's something about the multimedia notetaking that's possible on your phone now. So, for example, I create the stove document. Okay. And in that document, it's got a photo of my friend's stove. It's got a PDF of a manual. It's got a link to a website. It's got a drawing I doodles on my iPad or my phone. It's got a video that I took of someone. It's got a YouTube link that plays inside of the documents.
Erica: It's multimedia.
Darius: Multimedia thing goes into one document that becomes the stream of thought of everything that's going on in that one place. And I'm thinking to myself, where else can I do that? Maybe just about within Google docs Google Docs has got close to it, but nowhere near as close as Apple notes has just managed to do it in iOS 16.
Erica: I get it. All right. I think I'm sold on notes. That sounds really interesting and I'm going to start to explore that now. Tell us a little bit about Reminders.
Darius: Now, reminders is a weird, um, app that I've never quite kind of always got again, it's just this Apple way of doing stuff. It's like, why is it not like a regular to do list thing? Why are you doing things differently? And until you get into the head space of why they're doing certain things, you don't realize the value of it. But Reminders is now starting to shine when it comes to Siri. Okay?
Darius: Going back to working memory, taking notes and reminders of speed of thoughts, it's quite cumbersome sometimes doing to do lists. But when you do it in Siri and you go, hey, Siri, remind me to call my dad tonight at 06:00 p.m..
Erica: Okay, I did.
Darius: Remind me to call Mum and invite her to Christmas at 07:00 p.m. Tomorrow. Okay. So it says, call my mom. It says tomorrow at 07:00 P.m. And I will get a reminder at that time. And, um, there's something very helpful about using the voice to text to do reminders. So you may be at the Cooker and you're thinking about something, and you go, gosh, and you just say, hey, Siri, remind me to buy that present for dad tomorrow, et cetera.
Erica: But if you don't have your phone with you or you have it silenced, how do you get those reminders?
Darius: Yes, that's true. You don't get those reminders. And that, uh, is a little awkward.
Erica: Because that's one of my problems, is I will put it on silence and I'll forget. Or I'll put it on focus and I forget. It'd be nice if you could just say, put it I guess you can put it can you put it on Focus for an hour? Yes, I guess, because I just press the buttons either on or off, and then I forget that.
Darius: Is that's one of the Siri commands you can do? You can say, hey, Siri, put me on Focus for 1 hour.
Erica: Sorry, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Erica: Why can't you do that?
Darius: The, uh, phone was locked.
Erica: Oh, glad to hear that.
Darius: It's to stop other people using Siri to do stuff through your phone.
Erica: That's really interesting. Okay, so the reminder sound really good. It's funny, I use my Amazon Echo, but if the electricity goes off, I'm in trouble.
Darius: But the thing is and, um, that's brilliant. And the Amazon Echo is brilliant, but the key thing is getting everything into one place.
Erica: Yeah, I get it.
Darius: That's a real problem. And the thing is, Amazon going to commit to the suite of apps in the same way as Apple is.
Erica: No, the other thing is, God knows what they're using my information for.
Erica: There isn't a sense of privacy. These devices are listening to me at all time, and I don't know where that information is going.
Darius: So, uh, that leads me on, finally, to the power of speech to text. Okay, so Siri has done just this giant step forward in terms of Siri, closer to what Google can do in terms of speech to text. When you dictate to Siri, it will capitalize, it will punctuate. You can do things like that. It'll automatically capitalize, automatically do punctuation and things like that, which it wasn't doing a month ago.
Erica: You're kidding. It'll add commas and periods now.
Erica: How accurate is it?
Darius: Really good. Now, so here's the shift that's just happened within the assistive technology world. Okay? So the market leader was Dragon Dictate. Okay? If you were Dyslexic, uh, over the last 1520 years, you would go to the British government or your employer and say, Look, I'm Dyslexic. Can you give me some assistive technology? And if you know the right grants to go to, they will pay £400, £500 for three years of subscription to Dragging Dictates. And then they'll buy you a laptop to run it. And then they'll give you a headset to have the high quality microphone to hear your speech clearly, to turn it into text and so on. And so you'd end up having this big, bulky laptop with an expensive piece of software and a headset to hear your words, to Speech to Text. It okay. Now, your phone can sit on the desk with its own microphone, with its inbuilt Siri Dictation, and do, I would say, 90% of the work that Dragon Dictate can do, if not 95 previously. A month and a half ago, it was probably doing 75% of it. And two years ago, it was probably doing about 50% of it. But with this latest release, it's really caught up.
Erica: Wow, interesting. I did does Drag and Dictate add the punctuation as well, or, uh, is this brand spanking new?
Darius: Yeah, I think it does.
Erica: Last I looked, it didn't, so I've never even heard of anything adding punctuation. This is the first I've ever heard.
Darius: Most good speech to text software nowadays will add punctuation for you and, um, capitalization as well, for you. Google Speech to Text does it for you. And it was doing it two years ago.
Erica: I mean, I use on Google Docs, I use their what do they call it? They call it it's their voice to text. And it does not you have to say period and comma.
Darius: Oh, sorry, I'm wrong. I know that their paid for services do it. I've just created a speech app. Um, or it's in prototype, but Siri is just caught up and is really.
Erica: Good, and they're giving it for free.
Darius: And it's free.
Erica: Wow, I'm so excited about that. That's, uh, crazy.
Darius: But more importantly than free, Erica, there when you need it.
Erica: What about my imac? It's there.
Erica: So I'm assuming that this is with the new operating system, Ventura.
Darius: It's on your iPad, it's on your iPhone, it's on your watch, it's on your laptop.
Erica: You just have to update to the newest operating system.
Erica: Wow. I haven't tested that out yet. I'm super excited to test that out.
Darius: It's crazy.
Erica: I just made a list of all the commands.
Erica: Does that mean I don't need to use these commands anymore? Or maybe I'll need some of them?
Darius: Oh, you need all those commands still. So, uh, let me give you an example. Here's a really useful hack. You say to Siri to open Apple Notes, and it'll open up an Apple Notes and I'll open up a new note. Okay. And then you can tap on it and click the dictation button at the bottom of your keyboard. At the bottom of every keyboard in the Apple's ecosystem, there's a microphone. And when you tap that, you can speak into the device and it will type out what you're saying. And now you can have a thought and you can open up the note and you can just sit there and talk out your thoughts or dictate something. As you're dictating, you can say some commands, simple commands, like new paragraph or period, or full stop or new line and new paragraph gives you a space, and then the writing a new line gives you just the next line. So if you're doing a list, you can say, I need to get some milk, new line, get some wood, new line, get some such and such, new line so it doesn't become a big clumpy paragraph. So you can still do all of that, and you can do period and comma and command it, but in the absence of those commands, it will try and guess the punctuation you would prefer and capitalize and will stop and so on.
Erica: Got it. Excellent. Very interesting. Now, I would love for you to tell us just a little bit about why you think calendar is so important. Is that just because they communicate across and you can search across these different apps because they communicate with one another? Or what makes calendar so important for you?
Darius: I'm not so core about Calendar versus.
Erica: Google Calendar, but what's the benefit of using this Calendar over Google Calendar?
Darius: I'm not sure yet, to be honest, Erica, I switched from eight to ten years of using Google Calendar to Apple Calendar just two months ago so that I could actually find out. But one of the things that I suspect is that because Apple is doing this quiet push towards integrated productivity under the hood, I suspect that this is going to include Calendar as well.
Erica: Oh, I see. So you're just basically saying, I'm going all Apple. I'm learning these three programs inside and out because they're all Apple and they all communicate. They all have more safety measures of, uh, security and privacy, and also they.
Darius: All work really well with Siri. So, for example, I say to Siri, now create an event. I say, create an event tomorrow 06:00, cook the dinner raghu, and that's it. And it's in my calendar. Whereas if I was to do that.
Erica: I can't do that at Google.
Darius: If I was to do that with Google Calendar, i, uh, could. But what I would have to do is I would say, hey, Siri, open up Google Calendar, or I have to create a shortcut command specifically for and.
Erica: Then, of course, you're using their browser too. Yes, Safari. Because Safari can communicate with any one of those three. Is that true?
Darius: That's right.
Erica: All right, I get it. Yeah. You're just using one system because it communicates across the apps.
Darius: And having read this book called Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte, I've realized the importance of intentionally creating a digital memory. And the moment you decide, I'm actually going to intentionally take notes digitally and organize them and be able to find them. Because memory is about recall, not saving stuff. Oh, I saved that to my computer. I saved that to my iPad. I saved that on my that's not a memory. That's a storage of it. But it's not a memory.
Erica: Right? Because if you can't access it, you can't recall it.
Darius: It's not a memory.
Erica: You're right.
Darius: Memory is recall. So if you want to create a digital store or a digital memory, they're very different. We've got digital storage. We've nailed that. But now, as human beings, we need to start curating what we feel is important to remember and be able to recall that quickly. I'll give you a very banal example. TikTok. Okay. I really like TikTok. If I see a really interesting TikTok, I know sometimes, oh, that's something I would love to share with my daughter or talk about with my wife or my friend or whatever, I'm not going to send them it straight away. I could maybe send them a text message with it. Or I can take that TikTok and hit share and share it to notes, and I save it under something like, random shit. That's my folder for it. And when I'm at a dinner party or something like that, and, um, we're talking about something you're like, oh, do you know what? There was this really useful thing, and I quickly search it, and there it is. And I go, there it is. And I either play it to them or there's a little note for it from it or something like that, and they go, that's really interesting. In the past, I would vaguely know a bit about that, but my memory would fail me, and I'm utterly fed up of my memory failing me.
Erica: And if I remember, maybe I'll send that to you later.
Darius: Yes, right.
Erica: And then it doesn't happen. And who has the time to be stopping everything to find something? Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, you could use it for all sorts of things, like recipes.
Darius: Uh, that's another strategy about recipes. I think one of the biggest AIDS to executive function is checklists. Having a checklist of a sequence of things you want to do. And I'm not talking about to do list. Checklist is very different from a todo list. A checklist is a sequence or a process or a recipe that you follow in a set order. And the sequence is quite important. You put the butter in first, then you put in the onions, then you put in the beef. It's not just throw it all in. I've got all the bits. There is a sequence to it. Do you brown it first? Do you put the garlic in first, or do you put it in later because it changes the flavor, et cetera. The sequence is where the sequence is important. You need a checklist. And so that's where if you've done it once really well and there's a lot of people with Dyslexia are so good at, uh, improvising things, and then you say to them, that recipe was fantastic. What went in? I can't remember. But if it was really tasty, why don't you just open up notes really quickly and write it down while it's still roughly fresh in your mind. So the next time you decide to improvise on that, you can actually upgrade from where you were before rather than starting from scratch again. And that's one of the biggest problems. You're always starting from scratch if you don't have a good memory.
Erica: Interesting. So I could even just take a picture of a recipe and save it to Notes. But the nice thing about Notes is it will even allow me to search within that recipe or, uh, even take a piece of that recipe and share it. So, yeah, okay. I could see how Notes could be a real game changer, and then the reminders are great for those time reminders. I guess I just have to get into the habit of, as you suggested, setting focus for a specific amount of time so that I'm not disengaged when I need to be engaged. And I guess technically what this does is it really makes you almost inseparable from your phone, which is a little disturbing. So you have to get used to keeping it fairly close by so that you get those reminders.
Darius: Yeah, I mean, yes and no. Uh, one of the clever things that Apple reminders does is it divides the day into four, and it gives you, by default, reminders at 08:00 a.m. 12:00 a.m. 05:00 p.m.. I can't remember the times, but what it does is I'm not going to just pepper you with reminders throughout the day. There are set times which will become your reminder time, and I imagine people might get used to. Right, okay, I'm going to look at my reminders at eight in the morning, or I'm going to look at my reminders in the middle of the day. I'm going to look at my reminders at the early afternoon.
Erica: Now, if I have a reminder on my phone, will it remind me on my imac? Yeah, now you have to connect them or do they automatically connect?
Darius: Automatically connect.
Darius: Okay, so it will remind you on your watch, it will remind you on your phone, it'll remind you on your iPad, and it will remind you on your Mac. Any Apple device will send that reminder.
Erica: And I gather they're coming out with glasses soon. It'll probably remind you in your glasses.
Darius: Absolutely, yeah.
Erica: Oh my gosh, talk about having something in your face.
Darius: There's so much more to using tech to assist you. But I think the one thing I would just leave people with is there's lots more complicated ways. Like you could use Notion, you could use Roam, you could use Obsidian, you could use Google Docs, you could use Google Keep. You could use all sorts of different techniques and apps. But, um, I think complexity is the enemy of productivity, and I think complexity in the apps seduces you, and it seduces me continually. Oh, this might really help me, and so on. At the end of the day, I've just made this decision. Bottom line, there's 10% of my life is super important stuff.
Darius: I want to remember everything important.
Erica: It makes sense. And I like that it's all because all the Apple platforms communicate with m one another. And I just had this crazy thought that when they come out with the Apple glasses, nobody will forget anybody's name anymore because you could just say, oh, okay, I'm sure there'll be a way very soon that the glasses will recognize the person and just give you their name.
Darius: Yeah, that would be lovely.
Erica: Well, or it could be a flower. If you have word finding issues with the glasses, you won't have word finding issues anymore because it could give you the names of everything that you're looking at. It's a really interesting concept, isn't it? I wonder if there's an app where you could take a photograph. There are ones where you can take photographs and it will give you the flower's name and stuff like that. That's true. That already exists. But it's going to be fascinating. And for those people that have word finding problems, it's going to be so satisfying. And I would like to think that if you're given the name 15 times, then you won't need that anymore. You know what I mean? So it can enhance memory. Uh, to some extent, it's all about whether we're going to be passive or active about it.
Darius: Yeah. One of the things that I've noticed with my terrible memory is that it's got a bit better because of this process. Because when you actively choose to say, that's important, I'm going to capture that. I'm going to store that somewhere. You're engaging an act of will. And then when you go to recall that and say, yes, I put that thing in about the stove. You find the stove and you go find it and you recall it and you've got it and you share it. What's happening is that you are starting to trust that you can actually remember things. And it's actually worthwhile remembering things because you're putting the effort in, because it's not wasted effort anymore. Because so often, oh, I'm going to save that to my hard drive. I'm never going to look at my screen captures again because it's so hard to find them all. That's another thing you can do. You can screen capture things and share it directly into Notes so you can find your screen captures. It's a very powerful tool.
Erica: What is it? Command Shift Four, where you could just do a screenshot and then I didn't notice. They have a little icon where you can share it to Notes.
Darius: Share and it goes to Notes.
Erica: I think I'm really fascinated with notes. Notes seems to be the really powerful one of the three. That's the big kahuna. Got it.
Darius: That's your digital memory notes.
Darius: And the thing is, if you make a commitment to just store, it might be Evernote. I love evernote as well. I used to love Evernote a lot. I mean, Apple Notes is basically the Evernote killer. Evernote is dead. Watch out. One year from now, every Apple user will just delete Evernote off their device or just go onto the free version because all their new Notes will be in Apple Notes. But the point I'm making, commit to storing your Notes into one place.
Erica: Yes, makes sense. Efficiency and accessibility. And as you said, it's not a memory if you can't access it.
Darius: So, Erica, that was bubbling away for the last month or so, and I'm sorry for just going on this monologue rant. It wasn't really much of a discussion, but I just wanted to share all that with the listeners.
Erica: No, it's fascinating and I really appreciate it, and I'm sure a lot of other people will appreciate it, too, because I think it's given them a nice introduction to this app that was probably already available to them that they didn't even know could be so beneficial. And now they do. So thank you so much, Darius.
Darius: And, um, tons of people are already using Notes. Oh, yeah. I always use notes. Yeah, great. Keep using notes. But then did you know you can save, uh, PDF in there? Did you know you can save audio notes into there or whatever? And it all I didn't know. And what happens is, once you just start using Notes and then you start saying, gosh, this is actually quite useful, then you've got raw materials to start putting them into folders, organizing them, and creating some shape and structure to it. Instead of starting from the top down, you just gather all those jigsaw pieces, and then gradually you have tons of lovely little juicy, useful bits of information that you can then start thinking about. Gosh, this would actually be worthwhile organizing.
Erica: Excellent. Thank you so much. I really appreciate all of your time and attention and sharing all these resources with Asterius.
Darius: My pleasure. See you next time, Erica. Bye bye.
Erica: Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain Trainer podcast. This is Dr. Erica Warren and Darius Namdaran.
Darius: Checkout out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye.