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From irritating owls to forests of work: tips for procrastinators

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By Marian O’Donnell

 

Hi my name is Marian O’Donnell and I am a procrastinator.

 

The first step in fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. It’s week 6 – half way through the semester and it’s time to stop procrastinating.

 

In some ways I’m envious of the previous generations of UL students and the lack of distractions they had. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Reddit. Don’t even get me started on the endless hours of swiping on tinder and scrolling on Yik Yak. So put down the phone, close the tabs on the laptop and get working.

 

Now this all sounds a lot easier than it is; how can I remove my distractions without going back to the dark ages?

 

Your willpower is limited. We have all sat down at out laptops full of good intentions and trying to get some work done only to find ourselves three hours latter watching our tenth YouTube video of cats falling over.

 

Luckily the good people of the internet have come up with apps and extensions that take the distractions away and block the sites that you procrastinate on.

 

The basics

For extensions that simply block out the websites that you use to procrastinate.

Chrome users should try out StayFocused and those using Firefox should check out LeechBlock. These sites are a basic starting block to excluding sites and helping you concentrate on your study more.

 

Where is my time going?

Often we look back at our day spent in front of the laptop with no work done and wonder “where did all my time go?” Or maybe you just want to pinpoint where exactly your problem is, then RescueTime is the site for you. RescueTime works by tracking your online activity and will help you figure out where all your wasted time is going. The graphics and charts are also really interesting in comparing your productivity towards your procrastination.

 

Time mismanagement

Strict Workflow is the extension for you if you struggle with time management. It works by breaking your work time into 30 minute slots: 25 mins of work followed by a 5 minute break. It operates as a small Tomato that sits in the corner of your screen and will also block you from different sites that you can set up and select.

 

Improve your productivity 

Productivity Owl is probably the toughest one to get used to. This extension works with a fun killing owl that monitors your internet usage and gives you a certain number of seconds to visit a website before it closes the tab. Two things will happen if you use this app: You will hum the mission impossible theme tune under your breath and you will slowly grow to hate owls.

 

Rewards for your Work

Going back to those hours you spent watching cat videos on YouTube, you might be going through cat withdrawal symptoms. If so, you should check out the ‘Written? Kitten!’ site. This site works by rewarding you for reaching word count goals in your essay – for every 100 words you write in your essay, ‘Written? Kitten!’ will supply you with a fresh picture of a kitten to keep you motivated. They also have a hedgehog and bunny version for you non-feline loving folk.

 

One for the Phone

It’s not just the laptop that’s distracting, it’s time to put the phone down as well. ‘The Forest: Stay Focused’ app helps you do just that. It encourages you to focus on your work by planning your time in 30 minute blocks. It works by allowing you to plant a ‘seed’ and over the next 30 mins this will grow into a tree on your phone. However if you use your phone this tree will wither and die. These trees build up into a tiny forest that represents the work that you have done over a week.

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