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Being productive online

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Published: 6 September 2021


The more time we spend online, the more there is to discover. The world of the internet is filled with countless distractions. 

That can be a good thing but if you’re trying to study, whether that’s writing an assignment or watching an online lecture, it can lead to problems.

So how do you switch off the noise of social media posts and cat videos and focus on your university work?

Turn off notifications 

Whether you’re on your phone or the laptop, notifications are the bane of anyone trying to organise their time. 

The very first thing you should do is turn off any that aren’t necessary.

Put your phone in aeroplane mode and on your laptop switch off social media notifications. 

If you’re not sure how to do this, the simplest way to learn is to Google your mobile or computer and the word ‘notifications’. 

Make active notes 

During online classes, it can be tempting to just sit back and watch the lecture. There’s no pressure from seeing other students making loads of notes. 

But writing down what you are learning is a useful way of staying focused.

Doing so means you’ll need to focus and ignore anything else going on around you. 

Plus, writing things down by hand is a great way of remembering what you’re learning. 

Do the hard tasks 

It’s advice no one likes hearing, but by doing the things we don’t want to first, you’ll be starting your day off in a focused and productive way. 

Make a list of all the things you need to do and number them in order of what you are least looking forward to. 

This is based on the idea that the longer you put something off, the less likely you are to do it. 

If, for example, you need to start writing an assignment, but you’d much rather read a journal article instead, it’s probably best you start with the essay.

That way you have something to look forward to when you finish.  

Productivity apps 

Phones can be the source of many distractions, but they can also be the solution.

Try downloading a study timer such as FreedomFocus or Forest to control your time. 

Note-taking apps like Trello and Evernote will help you organise everything you’re learning and a list programme such as Todoist let you keep your lists together.

Reward yourself 

Doing lots of work is not easy if you don’t have something to look forward to at the end. 

Of course, you’ll come away with a degree and great career opportunities. 

But in the shorter term make sure you’re treating yourself. Take breaks, doing something social, watch tv or whatever you do to de-stress.

That way you will be refreshed and ready to work hard again when you’re done.

Everyone has different ways of keeping themselves motivated. But one of the best things about the University of Sunderland in London is how connected our community is.