Studying online has a unique set of challenges and one of the biggest is staying focused. Nothing kills that focus and productivity like a distraction, and your computer is absolutely full of distractions. Our attention is being pulled towards social media services, instant messaging, email, news… the list is endless. Without a level of focus and a way to quieten the distractions, getting things done can end up being quite a challenge. Luckily, technology can be both the cause of the problem and offer the solution to it. Let’s have a look at five applications that are specially designed to help you focus when you’re studying online.
How Often Do You Try to Escape?
Let’s start off with some information. How much time and how often are you distracted from your work? Applications like Escape for Mac or RescueTime for Windows can provide you with valuable information that lets you see just how bad the distraction problem is. By providing you with daily reports of how often and how long you spend on specific websites or the number of times you checked your email, and many other metrics, you might spot some patterns. If you’re struggling to figure out where your time goes, these reports might help you get some insight into just how you’re spending or wasting your time.
List It and Do It
There’s a reason why some sayings are so prolific. One of the biggest in business and productivity circles, and something you’re likely to hear over and over, and for good reason if you’re in a high demand course like a Texas MBA program is “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Part of that planning is simply creating a list. Checking things off a to-do list is not only satisfying; it can help you stay focused and create a drive to get things done. We’re spoiled for choice in this space as there is an infinite number of to-do list applications available for your computer or mobile.
Try options like Todoist or Wunderlist if you’re looking for the simplest of to-do list applications. If you’re the kind of person who needs a little bit of extra motivation, why not try something like Habitica, which takes the simple to-do list and turns it into a role-playing game complete with your own avatar and a full reward system.
The Power of Aural Influence
There are many studies linking music to productivity, and there’s no shortage of ways this has been incorporated into tech solutions. The most common of these is a service called Brain FM, which claims to use the research around music increasing productivity to create playlists that are full of music that has big fancy words like ‘neural phase locking’ and backed by real and tangible scientific studies. If you’re distracted by noise, using a service like Brain FM might be perfect for you.
Focus Is No Game
Human beings respond to incentives. It’s a fact as old as time. It’s for this reason that gamification works. It’s been proven to increase productivity and compliance if there is a reward for doing so and this is where gamification steps in. Apps like Forest take the principle of gamification and apply it to the goal of focus. The idea is that you select a focus time, and Forest starts a timer. If you make it to the end of the timer without using your phone, you can plant a virtual tree in your virtual forest and earn some game currency. It rewards your focus by letting you add to your expanding virtual forest and it plays on our drive to be better humans by letting you use your rewards to plant real trees in the real world via one of the app’s partners.
It’s an app-based win-win really.
Just Block It All
If nothing else works, the nuclear option is simply to block all outside distractions and that’s where applications like Freedom come in. By syncing across all your devices and allowing you to specify your biggest time-wasting websites or apps, it creates a “Freedom Session” for a length of time you specify where you simply can’t visit any of the services or sites on your block list. Simple really. Build the wall and you’ll be able to focus.
So, there we have it. Real ways you can improve your level of focus using the same tech that’s distracting you in the first place. It’s funny how that works.