By Pedro Monteiro Garcia D’Avila, May 30 2020—
I still remember the days when simply going to lecture was enough to make me productive. But in the age of online classes, where pressing a button is enough to stop your professor’s speech mid-sentence, and there is nothing but your own self will to determine when lectures start and end, one question becomes extremely important: How do we stay productive? In this article, we will explore a few tools that can help you with that little push you need to succeed!
Based on the Pomodoro technique — where a burst of productivity is followed by a short break — Forest offers an unique take on productivity. Upon launching this App, available freely on the Google Play Store and for a small fee on the Apple App Store, users are prompted with a tree sapling and a timer, which defaults to 25 minutes.
As soon as the user presses “Plant,” Forest’s magic starts to shine through like a beacon of sunlight much needed for any sustainable growth. Unlike using a traditional stopwatch, Forest is aware of when the users leave the app, be it to quickly check a notification that turns into hours of scrolling or for a quick round of their favourite game — causing your beautiful tree to die an unfortunate death all at the hands of your laziness.
Growing a tree in this app requires your undivided attention, but thankfully the process is somewhat addictive. If you manage to grow your tree, you’re rewarded with coins that can be used to buy new cosmetic variations to your tree, as well as a few upbeat songs that are played upon the completion of your hard work. By making productivity a game, Forest gives the user incentive to sit down and type that dreadful research paper for 25 minutes, and by making it fun, Forest creates a rewarding cycle of productivity when users most need it.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of most students in this new online environment is the lack of a schedule. With nobody telling you what to do, or when to do it, it becomes harder to find the will to do it at all. Enter Todoist: a beautifully optimised to-do list that adds some much needed boundaries to your day to day life.
Available for free on both Android and Apple devices, Todoist has a simple interface that lets you quickly divide tasks into different binders, allowing you to create different goals for each one of your classes for example. What sets Todoist apart from other options available is its fantastic implementation into your home screen in the form of widgets.
On Android, this allows you to have a quick glance of what you’re supposed to be doing instead of watching “just one more episode” of The Office on Netflix. On Apple devices, a quick glance into your widgets page will serve much of the same purpose. What this accomplishes is two things: Firstly, tapping completed tasks until the app tells you that you “have completed all your tasks for the day” is as much of a game as Forest’s tree growing process. Secondly, if you position the widget in the same screen where most of your apps are, opening Instagram knowing you have 10 tasks to complete just feels taunting — and if shame makes you more productive, that’s still a gain!
The right mentality works better than any app:
To this point I’ve introduced you to two life-changing apps, but simply installing them won’t instantly give you an A+ on all your upcoming assignments — trust me, if that was the case you wouldn’t be reading this article! In order to make sure that these apps have a tangible impact in your life, you need the right mentality. But what’s that mentality? I’m glad you asked!
You need to recognise the importance your studies will have in your life. I know, some really boring stuff, but hear me out. You’re in university presumably because you wanted to grow your character, as well as make some valuable income in the future, so ask yourself this: Should a little inconvenience now prevent you from achieving your grander goals? I know this may sound like some of the most mundane advice you’ve ever heard, but it was only when I heard it for the first time that I realised how essential it was for my academic success, and now that our Fall term is also following the online route, this advice may save you too.
With that, I give you all the knowledge that I have accumulated in staying productive during these difficult times. I hope that you may find something here that aids your work schedule, and maybe, just maybe, finally allows you to pause your Netflix shows instead of your Zoom lectures.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.