We’ve all been there: you wake up on Sunday morning—I use the term “morning” loosely—and stare blankly at the ceiling, dreading the laundry list that is your to-do. You try to move things around, make your day a little easier, but everything needs to get done. And even once you’ve accomplished the biggest task—getting out of bed—there’s still so much to be done…
Procrastination seems to hit the hardest mid-semester. After spring break, you’ve successfully made it halfway through the semester, but you’ve still got a busy six to eight weeks left to go. If you’re anything like me, you fall into a bit of a funk: motivation is low, assignments are creeping up fast and furious, and if you fall behind there’s no extra time to catch up.
Beating procrastination and focusing your attention is a skill that takes a lot of work, but where technology can be the culprit, it can also be the cure. Here are some awesome applications that make avoiding procrastination and focusing your mind a little easier:
If you’re a writer, you know how hard it can be to buckle down and crank out even a couple pages at a time. At a certain point, you find yourself staring blankly at a screen until you somehow end up on Facebook for the sixth time in an hour and taking BuzzFeed quizzes to find out which version of Beyoncé you are. OmmWriter cancels out all of these distractions by creating “your own personal writing room.” For five dollars—and it is definitely worth all five dollars—you get a simple text processor with a careful selection of audio and visual backgrounds that help you focus and put words on a page. OmmWriter is available for Mac and PC.
2. Study by The Sound Agency Ltd
This iPhone and Android app is a gift from the heavens when you’re working in a crowded, noisy space. If your motivation is already low, pushing past the dull roar of background noise and conversation can be nearly impossible. Inspired by this TED talk, Study provides a soothing soundscape that promotes cognition and focus. It plays a mixture of nature sounds and slow-tempo, high-frequency, soothing musical sounds that are proven to relax your mind and body and help you focus.
3. Flat Tomato
Flat Tomato uses the Pomodoro Technique to help you do more in short increments of time. Studies show that you’re more likely to work better and more efficiently if you guarantee yourself a short break every 25 minutes or so. The app allows you to choose your activity–the default options are working, studying, and reading–and set a timer that reminds you when it’s time to take a break. Unfortunately, Flat Tomato is only available for iPhone.
4. Simply Being
Sometimes, the best thing to do is just walk away—at least for a little bit. But instead of falling into the rabbit’s hole of your new favorite Netflix show, try meditating for 15-20 minutes. Simply Being is a guided meditation iPhone and Android app that is completely customizable. It allows you to choose how long you want your meditation to last, what music you want to listen to (if any), and provides a coach that focuses your breathing and thoughts. I found Simply Being during finals freshman year, and it was the perfect way to get a few minutes of anxiety-free me-time and refocus myself when I had been in the library for too long.
To-do lists are your best friend—but only if you make them right. Stickies is a pre-installed desktop app that is criminally underused. It is an absolute lifesaver for keeping an easy-to-access and highly visible list of goals for the day, week, month, etc. By organizing Stickies into a short-term and a long-term to-do list, it’s easy to see what needs to get done ASAP and what can wait for later. Plus, there’s no better motivation than having a “Completed” list longer than your “To-do” one.
It’s midnight, and your deadline is swiftly approaching. You know what you’ve got to do, but your body is dreading it. f.lux is an application available for Macs and PCs that can make your all-nighter a little more tolerable by adjusting the red-blue balance of your screen. Color temperature effects the brain much more than luminance, and blue light has been proven to increase nervous system activity—which can result in headaches and lowered productivity. Manipulating color temperature can help your brain function well into the wee hours of the morning and minimize opportunities for distraction.