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Block technology long enough to study

By Col von Richthofen
On March 7, 2013

  • Smartphones are one of many technological distractions that students face while studying for midterms. AP

A text just came in, followed by another. One of your close friends will probably tweet or update their Facebook status before you're finished with this article. Throw in an email or two, a news feed update, or an app notification from GroupMe or Snapchat, and you're not going to get around to studying for that massive midterm exam for another few minutes. While the technology that the modern college student surrounds themself with is often distracting and overstimulating, there are many ways to make it work to their advantage.
While most UConn students have at least one internet-connected device, such as a laptop or a smartphone, many have multiple, which can make finishing tasks exponentially more difficult. One of the best ways to get something done, whether it be studying or homework, is to completely block any and all distractions. Mac users have the best pick here with SelfControl, a free application that blocks access to mail and designated websites for the allotted time. Once started, SelfControl cannot be undone by being deleted, restarted or otherwise until the timer runs out; unfortunately, no such program exists for Windows users. The next best bet for PC owners are browser extensions for Firefox or Chrome, such as SiteBlock, which block and un-block a pre-set list of sites at the touch of a button. As for smartphones, switching into "airplane mode" is the best option. Airplane mode temporarily turns off a phone's ability to send and receive signals, and can be found in the settings of any device. A bevy of apps (such as Auto Airplane Mode for Android) exist to help set timers and toggles for airplane mode.
If unplugging from the world is a tad extreme, time management methods are also a fantastic option. Focus Booster is a free application available for PC and Mac OSX or as a no-download online app. Focus Booster is based on the "pomodoro technique," which divides up half-hours into intervals of work and break. Using this technique is as easy as working on a task for 25 minutes until the timer rings, and then spending a five minute break doing just about anything but work, such as using social media or some pushups. Interval studying is a highly proven technique that makes compromises between work and play.
Aside from focus tools, there are several free services and apps out there to make your studying easier and more efficient. Both gFlash+ and StudyBlue are cross-platform studying apps that many UConn students already use, with StudyBlue also available as a webapp for laptops. Each free service allows students to make flash cards and study guides, and then to share them with classmates. StudyBlue even allows users to search for classes at the University, such as ECON 1201 or COMM 1100, and view what past students have created for the course. Using crowd-sourced flash cards can be a big time saver.
Though not necessarily a study tool, Pandora Internet Radio's "Mozart" and "Classical" stations provide wonderful study music. Pandora can be accessed by almost any device out there, but as with any streaming application, those on strict data plans should be careful not to burn through their usage. Classical music, like that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was popularized for its psychotherapeutic qualities by Dr. Alfred Tomatis. Studies have shown that listening to Mozart can help stabilize disorders, stimulate brain activity, and even raise IQ Test scores, in what is popularly known as the "Mozart Effect."

By Col von

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