By Sarah Wright
The Internet - It's Not Just For Distraction Anymore
Since most students do the bulk of their schoolwork on computers these days, the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse. You always have a research tool right at your fingertips, but amusement and distraction are just a few tempting clicks or keystrokes away. The Internet doesn't always have to work against you, though. If you know where to look, you can find some great tools that will help you focus, rather than driving you to procrastinate. We can't make you a more disciplined student, but these tools should help you whip yourself into shape.
Do you have trouble studying in anything but the most sonically sterile conditions? If you aren't a fan of studying to music, and find any distracting noise to be the perfect excuse to break your concentration, Simply Noise might be the answer to your prayers. This simple, free, easy-to-use website offers users a choice between three different frequencies of ambient noise, known as white, brown and pink noise. Each frequency has a different tone, with some sounding like the constant drone of the ocean and others sounding more like static. You can control the volume, put the noise player on a timer and even make the sound volume oscillate. Forget shelling out for an expensive white noise machine. Just pop on a pair of headphones and let the soothing sound of color noise drown out distractions.
Even the most organized student gets a little scatterbrained sometimes. There are plenty of calendaring programs out there, but we like Teux Deux for its simplicity. It's incredibly straightforward, and there's no bells and whistles that can make it annoying to use. It's just a simple to-do list that allows you to keep track of tasks and, satisfyingly, cross them off when you're done. There's also a mobile app for iPhone so you can keep your to-do list at hand at all times.
It can be easier to focus on long-term study sessions if you commit to working in relatively short bursts with small breaks in between. For example, you can commit to working three consecutive 15-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks between each work block. If you manage to stick to this, you can reward yourself with a longer break before starting the process again. Using a timer can help keep you disciplined, and e.ggtimer.com is a very simple, straightforward, distraction-free option. If you're interested in learning more about this style of work management, check out the Pomodoro Technique.
Flashcards are a classic way of studying vocabulary, languages and other question-and-answer type concepts. Quizlet is a great online option for those who don't want to handwrite stacks of cards every semester. There are a lot of pre-made cards to choose from if you don't want to take the time to create your own.