When you’ve been studying for weeks, the outside world seems so much more dynamic and colourful than, say, a copy of Ford’s Principles of Corporations Law. With all these distractions, no wonder your attention soon begins to wane.
Luckily, there are now apps to help your concentration – most of them are free too! Here are some of my favourites…
SelfControl (Mac), Cold Turkey (Win)
Does social media turn your iron-like will to study into mush? You probably need help, and here it is. These aptly-titled apps are very simple. Add websites to a user-defined blacklist, set a timer, click start, and hey presto – you can no longer access those websites for the set time period, even if you quit the app or restart your computer. My now-extensive blacklist features the usuals (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube) but also anything that’s been proven to distract me; #shitjudgessay is right up there.
PomodoroApp (Win/Mac), or Time Out (Mac) and Breaker (Win)
If you’re looking to motivate yourself by forcing yourself to take more breaks, and concentrate for short bursts of time, here are two great ways to go about it.
PomodoroApp is designed to facilitate the Pomodoro system, and takes a log of all your tasks while providing a handy timer in the corner of your screen. The essence of the Pomodoro system is to set yourself tasks and complete them in 25 minute blocks, taking short breaks in between and a longer break after a set of 4 blocks.
Or, if you like to simply split an hour of study 50/10, try Time Out or Breaker. Set a timer, study, and then the app will pop up and remind you when it’s time for a break. Time Out (Mac) will even slowly cover your screen, and prevent you from going back to study for 10 minutes. Nice!
In essence, it’s a time tracker that gives you a productivity rating each day, based on your own categorisation of your activities. The true power of RescueTime is how it uses the data it collects. You can find out what time of day you’re most or least productive, see how productive you were at a particular time, review your efficiency, rate yourself against other RescueTime users, and (shock) see how much time you spent on social media this month.
This is the ultimate self-assessment tool. Many of my friends at uni are not brave enough to use it. I think they are not brave enough to use it for good reason – I discovered that I’d spent 38 hours on Facebook in October. It might be time to go outside, I think!
Got a concentration app that you swear by? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
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