Twitter, Tumblr, even news sites, are all like quicksand for your mind; once you get stuck into one, it’s hard to get back out. Even worse, they keep calling you back once you do leave with endless notifications and the lure of infinite distraction. However, there are websites out there that can boost your productivity and maximize your time. Here are our picks for ten of the best.
1. Block Out Distractions
It’s important to recognize that social media isn’t just distracting, it’s addictive. Just like many other addictions sometimes sheer will-power isn’t enough to stop yourself from returning to the vortex. Luckily there are a range of websites out there where you can download apps to help you.
Self Control is a free app for Macs that allows you to block out a personalized selection of distracting websites for a set amount of time. Once you set the timer, even restarting your computer won’t let you access those sites until the timer is finished. Cold Turkey, for both Mac and PC, is similar but allows you to block sites indefinitely if you want.
2. Develop a Schedule
Your time is precious because it is so limited, but it’s easy to lose sight of that fact. This scheduling tool from Study Guides and Strategies is a simple way of seeing how many hours you actually have in the day, once you account for getting enough sleep, studying, going to classes, and so on.
3. Sleep Right
Speaking of getting enough sleep, there’s a great tool out there that helps you work out the best time to go to sleep based on when you need to be up. Sleepy Ti.me uses the science of REM cycles to calculate your optimal bedtime – you want to wake up in between sleep cycles, not during one. This is helpful even if you have to pull a late study session – for example, if you need to be up at 7 am you’re better off crashing out at 2.30am than 1am.
4. Ease Your Money-Worried Mind
Stress is a major productivity killer, and stressing about money is particularly bad. Studies have shown that workers who are worried about their finances may as well be absent for two full weeks of the year — and they have jobs! Many students have a very limited income, so a website like StudentRate, that aggregates a huge range of student deals and discounts in your area for you to browse, can save you money and ease your financial stress.
5. Gamify Your Life
Habitica is an app that helps you improve your productivity and form good habits in real life using the tools of a game. ‘Gamifying’ you study habits is a great way to stay focused and achieve your goals.
Merriam-Webster don’t just have an awesome dictionary app featuring word of the day and sentence examples. They also produce a gamification app called Quizzitive to test your vocabulary and the official Scrabble dictionary app.
6. Track Your Tasks
Human brains aren’t very good at focusing on one intensive task for hours at a time, and science has clearly shown that taking breaks increases productivity. Tomato Timer is a simple website that allows you to set 25-minute timers for work, with five or ten-minute breaks in between.
To-do lists are a tried and true method for staying on top of daily tasks. Todoist is the ultimate to-do list for the 21st century, allowing you to take your lists with you wherever you go, share and collaborate on tasks, and get notifications to help you stay on track.
7. Hoard Knowledge
Stack Exchange is a collection of question-and-answer communities where you can find informed answers about chemistry, maths, programming, and pretty much anything else.
A treasure trove of computerized information, Wolfram Alpha has the answer to every question. From computer science and mathematics to history and the arts, this website and app literal puts the world’s knowledge into the palm of your hand.
8. Make the Count
Trying to hit word counts isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be a grueling battle for many people. 4theWords makes that battle literal by transforming your word count goals into epic quests, legendary items, and battles with monsters. Written Kitten makes that battle adorable with a new kitten image every time you hit a word goal!
9. Map Your Notes
Mind mapping is a powerful note-taking tool, and Coggle makes it simple in the laptop age with an intuitive mind mapping tool that lives in your internet browser.
10. Save Your Cash
Textbooks can be super expensive. Save your cash by purchasing second hand textbooks, get study help and test preparation all in the one spot at Chegg. They also produce EasyBib, a simple way to format your references and bibliographies.