The Dewey Library is pleased to introduce you to our newest blogger, Mark Seabury. He is an Information Studies Student who will be helping out behind the scenes during this semester. Here are some interesting productivity tools he recommends for students.
The ability to close out of a social media or image browsing site isn’t always one that comes easily. One minute I’m gathering research for a paper and the next I’m lost in the depths of Facebook, trying to figure out what the kid I sat next to in 1st grade is up to. The following tools do a good job of fighting digression, allowing you to temporarily block time wasting sites while you do homework.
Browser extensions like Chrome Nanny and StayFocusd both work on Google’s browser, while Firefox’s LeechBlock provides the same kind of service. After installation, simply type in the URLs of the sites you’d like to avoid and set a time limit. Of course, there are a number of ways to disable all of these, so think of these extensions as artificial boosts of willpower rather than a permanent solution to web-based procrastination.
This stripped-down interface of WriteMonkey makes the download a great tool for someone looking to write a paper without the distractions of everything else on your desktop. Once downloaded the program’s “zen-like” atmosphere expands to your entire screen, harkening back to the hindrance-free atmosphere of the typewriter without losing any of the web capabilities we’ve become accustomed to.
Trello is a great way to visualize and prioritize long-term projects. The free software uses a method taken from big business and applies them the personal project level. Users assign each project to a board, which contain a list of tasks. Each list is given a card where specific instruction and attachments can be placed. The system allows for the chunking of a semester-long research project into manageable portions and realistic achievement goals. The cloud based software makes collaboration a breeze, and team-based learning classes that much less complicated. Programs like Asana and Azendoo offer variations on a similar product.
Toodledo is another way to manage tasks with a huge amount of options and customization. This makes it great on the individual level, and an apt way to keep up on the small tasks that are easy to forget about as a student. Its coolest feature recognizes when you have a chunk of free time and suggests which tasks are the highest priority and in what order to do them. It also syncs, for free, with your phone or tablet.
Predating any of these tools is mind-mapping, a technique that has existed before computers via pen and paper. A mind map is a way for you visualize a variety of ideas, from cheap meals to a full-blown project. Smaller ideas branch out from a central idea or theme in the form of nodes, a particularly good strategy for brainstorming paper topics. Free tools like Coggle and FreeMind allow you to insert pictures, documents, and even sync with Microsoft Office to create a memorable and effective mind map.
These are only a sample of the many productivity tools out there- check out Lifehacker for more tips and resources to make the most out of your time!
Blog post created by Mark Seabury