Study Corner: Apps for Time Management
October 5th, 2017
Now that school has started again, time management is more important than ever. It’s so easy to get distracted (especially on social media) but hopefully these time management and productivity apps help!
Forest - A widely used app that provides motivation for staying off your phone. The reward for not using your phone for a pre-designated amount of time is a tree you plant in your virtual garden. The goal is to create a large forest by staying off your phone as long as possible. Added bonus: when using in-app credits, Forest donates to Trees for the Future to turn your virtual trees into real ones. (1.99 - iOS)
Self Control - The easiest way to block access to a certain site (eg Facebook) on your computer for any given time. There are options to whitelist or blacklist specific sites, and there is no way around it - deleting the app or shutting down your computer make no difference. An alternative for Windows is the paid service Freedom (2.50/month - all devices)
There are a lot of apps that track how much of your online time is spent on various websites.
Rescuetime - is a free browser extension that neatly shows you data about your computer usage. It can help you set goals about what sites to cut down visiting as much, and gives you a daily productivity score to track your day-by-day progress.
Moment - this app automatically tracks your phone usage while running in the background. You can also set goals like in Rescuetime, and can see the total amount of time you have spent on your phone. (Free, iOS. Android alternative - QualityTime.)
Now is also a good time to talk about the Pomodoro Technique. This time management system is very simple - its founder used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to practice this technique. Essentially, it is based around the idea that humans have a limited attention span and need breaks to refocus attention and maximize efficiency. To use this technique:
Decide what task you will be focusing solely on
Set a timer for 25 minutes (the specific time is up to you and your attention span)
When time runs out, mark that you have completed one “pomodoro” and take a 3-5 minute break.
When you have performed 4 pomodoros, your break will be longer (15-20minutes.)
If the Pomodoro Technique works for you, you can simply use a timer, but some simple, functional and free timers exist across all platforms!
Tomato-timer.com: One of the simplest and cleanest Pomdoro websites.
Marinaratimer.com: My personal favorite and very easy to customize.
Tomighty: Downloadable for Mac and Windows.
As students, sleeping is a huge concern for many of us. These apps help with improving sleep and nap quality and I use many on a daily basis.
Noisli - (noisli.com) Noisli isn’t geared for sleep, but provides white noise, so it can be helpful for falling asleep. It offers the option to create custom “mixes” of different white noises (like “coffee shop,” “ocean”, “birds.”) It also includes a distraction-free writing feature.
Sleepyti.me - (sleepyti.me) This is my favorite service. It’s so easy to use and operates on the principle that waking up at the end of a 90 minute sleep cycle will leave you feeling more rested than ever. It can tell you what time is optimal for waking up or going to sleep. While you don’t have to follow it exactly, its suggestions do actually help and is worth a try.
Sleep tracking apps (Sleepcycle, Pillow) - If you have trouble sleeping or with snoring/sleep talking researching a good sleep monitoring app can be very helpful. Be aware that many of these apps will record your sleep.
New tab extensions in Chrome
These extensions are all free and available for download for the browser Chrome.
Momentum - very beautiful and sleek appearance featuring the time, a daily goal and motivational quote, short to-do list, and weather all over an inspirational and high quality image. Not extremely functional.
Lanes - Very functional. Lanes includes a pomodoro timer and productivity insights, weekly calendar view, and goals.
OneTab - I found this invaluable during term paper season and while working on multiple long-term school assignments as an alternative to opening and keeping open 20+ tabs. This extension lets you create different lists that consist of as many links as you want, consolidating different tabs onto one page.
Good luck studying!