Getting organized for midterms, finals or even just writing a paper is a huge pain. The old pen-and-pad technique just doesn’t keep up with the amount of work you get, but don’t fret. There’s some good news for you, especially if you use a Mac or an iPhone.
I have tested a bunch of time management / productivity apps over the years and a lot of them are more work than they are worth. But there are a couple that have been life changing for me! So let me recommend those to you.
Vitamin-R2 – Organize Your Breaks
With all the social media distractions available online, it’s easy to burn up a lot of time “taking a break” before you get to work. Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube are all GPA killers.
Vitamin-R 2 is a Mac app that can be the solution to your time management problems. This nifty app is a lifesaver if you have trouble balancing work and play.
How does it work? Vitamin-R 2 breaks up your study periods into customizable “time slices” where you can organize your breaks and make sure you stay on schedule. The app sticks to the top of your menu bar, where you can set periods of work and space them out with necessary breaks.
The app triggers visual, audio, and/or speech notifications to remind you to take a break. This way you can stay focused on your work while looking forward to your well-deserved mini-break from studies.
Switching from one task to another is a common way to get distracted in. Luckily, Vitamin-R 2 also has a built-in task switching function which allows for quick changes that doesn’t impede on your focus. You can restore recent tasks through your objective and also leave “breadcrumbs” which allows you to return back to your task the same way you saw it last.
But what good is keeping track of your time, if you can’t organize your work properly? Vitamin-R 2 includes a “Scratchpad” which is essentially an open page for you to include all the references you need – images, links, and whatever else.
To make sure you’re on the right path, the app also includes log books that track your productivity. These viewable statistics are extremely helpful in making sure you’re improving with your time management.
Vitamin-R 2 is designed to accommodate your work, rather than get in the way of it. With plenty of customizations, this app can be tailored to your liking to ensure your time management is exactly as you’ve planned. The app can be tried for a 14-day period for free and costs $29.95 with a 30 day money-back guarantee.
Outread – Faster, more focused reading
Oftentimes when reading, our eyes skip around the text. It forces us to read the passage again, maybe even a few times, until we truly comprehend the material. This can be tedious. Outread fixes this issue entirely by focusing your eyes on a highlighted portions of the text.
Outread is designed to move at a rhythmic pattern which is customizable to your liking. It doesn’t feel forced – you can scroll and skip parts of the text with ease. The marker size and speed of reading can also be adjusted to fit your preferences.
Using the app is simple. You simply sync your articles and websites, adjust the parameters, and tap to play. Here are a list of additional features
- Fully compatible with Safari and all web pages
- Free eBooks directory with classic books
- Supports the major types of text documents (doc, txt, and epub)
- Created for the iOS7
- Includes personal reading stats
- Two reading modes (night and day), two themes, and five different fonts
You can buy Outread for $4.99 on the Apple Store. It is compatible with both iPhones and iPads.
Timebar – Time Yourself
Timebar is an app similar to Vitamin-R 2. This app keeps you focused on a specific task for a specific amount of time. Timebar transforms your menu bar into a timed progress bar. Simply set the timer and watch your menu bar start full and slowly drain. Even with full-screen apps, Timebar shrinks to the top of the screen to ensure you can see your leftover time.
Timebar is $2.99. It is compatible with IOS X 10.7 or later and 64-bit processor.
Anki – Flash Cards
Flash cards are a great way to memorize material before an exam, but writing down information is a big time-suck. Our brains memorize material not just through descriptions, but also through pictures and audio. Anki is an app that utilizes this to its potential by creating virtual flashcards that are easily customizable. Anki flashcards can hold images, audio, video, and text to help remember material before exams (or for anything really). The possibilities mean that you can study any which way you like depending on what kind of learner you are.
Some useful features include:
- Mutli-platform synchronization to keep yourself organized and up-to-date on all your devices.
- Card layouts, timing customizations, and plenty of other options to ensure you’re focused and working at your own pace.
- Compatible with virtually all media to give you complete control over how your flash cards appear.
- Efficient in handling decks of over 10,000+ cards.
- Extensions are available to include whatever add-on you like.
- Anki is also open source to ensure all your content is safe and sound.
Anki is supported on the OS X platform and is free to download. Check it out at this link here.
And finally, for a bonus app… HistoryHound!
Writing large papers are a hassle, but it is especially stressful when you can’t even remember where you found your information and sources! Sometimes looking through your history just doesn’t cut it, and you’re stuck wondering how to cite that little snippet you included in your essay.
HIstoryhound fixes this problem with ease by remembering your sources. Rather than bookmarking all your pages and forgetting which page is where, HistoryHound acts as a search that goes through your personal history and bookmarks. It chases down the page you’re looking for by using keywords to look through bookmarks, cache, and history to keep its index up-to-date. Here’s a rundown of the features:
Supports all major Mac OS X browsers. Historyhound searches through all of them to make sure you find the content you’re looking for.
- Assign to a hotkey for easy use
- Maintains your web browsing history for however you like based on your preferences.
- Plenty of search functions to ensure you find what you need.
- Powered by Mac OS X’s Spotlight search engine
HistoryHound sells for $14.95, but it comes with a 30-day free trial. It runs on all Mac OS X platforms.
Each of these applications serve a different function and can be used together to ensure your time management is at its best. Whether it be memorizing, timing your workload, or just shuffling through content for your assignment, these apps will help you achieve the best with the least amount of time wasted.