Curing College Distractions
by Trista Thurston
College students are notorious for getting distracted. No matter how hard you try to focus, Facebook just keeps drawing you in. If this is a constant problem for you, there are plenty of applications out there to assist you.
One very popular product is Self-Control. The app blocks the user from accessing particular websites for a predetermined amount of time. You can still access the internet for academic pursuits, but no matter what you do, you won’t be looking at funny pictures of cats. The interface is very simple, but does exactly what it advertises. Best of all, it’s free. However, it is a Mac application, which means that Windows users are out of luck.
Anti-Social (Mac, $15, free trial available) automatically keeps away form all your favorite social networking sites, but can be reset after a quick reboot. This is a subset of Freedom (Mac and PC, $10, free trial available), which locks you away completely from the internet for a full 8 hours or any amount of time you desire.
If you’re spending too much or too little time on an activity, say calculus, Focus Booster (Mac and PC, free) helps you zone in on one task for 25 minutes. It’s a great tool in order to get used to studying in college. It also allows for a five-minute break after each session.
FocusWriter (Mac and PC, free or donation) is handy for papers that you just can’t seem to get a handle on, greying out everything onscreen except for what you’re typing. You can still use basic tools like spellcheck, but everything else is neatly put away until you’re done writing.
Evernote (Mac and PC, 40MB free/month; $5/month or $45/year for 500MB)(it’s a wonder it even needs to be mentioned) is one the simplest note-taking apps out there. It can be used to make lists or record anything you may need for later. The search function and cross-platform synchronization makes this app seamless to use; it even recognizes text (handwritten and typed) in pictures.
If lists are your thing, Trello (Web, iOS, Android) is the coolest thing you’ve probably never heard of. You create boards, say one for each class or subject, and within those boards are cards, which could be individual assignments. Within each card, you can add descriptions, make checklists, set due dates, and create color-coded tags. The website ‘s true function is evident, though, though, when you invite others on your boards, like classmates. Members can attach files and add comments, along with so much more. Although the site prides itself on its collaboration features, it’s great at just reminding you when something needs to be done.
Most of the software mentioned costs nothing or next to nothing, so it’s great for the starving student. I personally recommend getting used to avoiding the traps that these apps keep you away from, but if you’re really in a bind and just can’t seem to get much done, these are some simple solutions that can save an internet junkie hours. Happy studying!