As we begin the countdown to midterm season, many students (including me!) may be sharing the sentiment of “so many assignments to do, yet so little time”. Luckily, in today’s technology-minded world, there are many apps to help us be the most productive we’ve ever been! Before we think about how to utilize our phones and computers for productivity, though, it may be a good idea to block off the beast of un-productivity: social media. So, let’s start by talking about website blockers:
1. Website blockers (available on various platforms): useful for blocking off social media, online shopping, or any other sites that might be distracting to you:
- Mac: Cold Turkey, SelfControl
- Windows: Cold Turkey
These blockers let you block websites of your choice for any amount of time you choose. They’re also very difficult (if not impossible) to circumvent once a block period is begun.
2. Forest (iPhone, Android)
Forest is essentially a timer you can start whenever you need to focus. If the user stays on the Forest app (ie. not use their phone) for the duration of the timer, a virtual “tree” is grown. Using Forest requires a bit more discipline than the website blockers as the user can quit the app at any time, but the virtual tree will die in the process. The neat thing about this app is that virtual “coins” are earned every time a tree is grown, which can then be collected and used in the shop to buy other virtual trees or fund the planting of a real one! You are also able visualize the amount of time spent on Forest.
(Pictured: Forest. Picture Credit: Tools and Toys.)
3. Rescuetime (Mac, Windows, Android, Chrome, Firefox)
Rescuetime tracks all the websites you visit and the amount of time spent on each per day. It automatically classifies these websites as being “very productive”, “productive”, “neutral”, or “not productive”, but this can be changed to your liking. From this, it calculates the total time spent on the computer as well as your “productivity pulse”. You’re also able to view your productivity by the hour, day, week, or month! Viewing this data may help you visualize your energy / productivity cycle throughout the day. Also, you can become more aware of the websites that are most distracting to you and block them using website blockers when you’re ready to work!
(Pictured: Rescuetime dashboard. Picture Credit: PCMag.)
4. Slack (web & all platforms) & Tips to avoid being distracted by Facebook
Are you part of an organization, club, or a team of any kind? If so, Slack may be useful for you! Its clutter-free and distraction-free interface allows effective team communication without the need to use distracting social platforms like Facebook. If your team would still prefer to communicate via Facebook but you find the Newsfeed / etc too distracting (like me!), there is an option to deactivate your Facebook account and use the Facebook chat only through messenger.com! Alternatively, on browsers such as Chrome, extensions (apps) are available to block the Facebook Newsfeed (eg. News Feed Eradicator for Facebook), and instead replace it with an #inspirational quote.
5. Focuslist (iPhone & Mac)
For the more meticulous, you can plan out your entire day on this app, including the exact hours you will allot to finish each task. You can then start the timer to run through your day, which includes proportional break times to the amount of time you spend on work. The planning required in this app can be very helpful for those who need to visualize their day in order to be productive. Like Rescuetime, you can check your productivity by the month, day, or hour, which may help you better understand your energy cycle!
(Pictured: Focuslist. Picture Credits: Focuslist.)
As much as we’d all love to be productive, though, it’s important to give ourselves a break once in awhile. For that, we have websites like Calm.com and Rainymood.com to help us relax or practice mindfulness.
(Pictured: Calm.com. Picture Credits: Calm.com)
**Please note: This is not a paid advertisement – all opinions are my own!
Post Written by: Jennifer. W.