Procrastination meets its maker online

Procrastination+meets+its+maker+online

By Maggie Pluskota

The second week of freshman year, college gets real. It’s not just fun and games and syllabi anymore. Because, hey, your actual grade’s at stake! And, hey, every brain cell is telling you maybe it’s time to flee back to the third grade! Time to marathon Gilmore Girls! 

Battle the self-destructive procrastinator in you with my Big Three tech cheats.

1. Microsoft Office

Yeah, OK, you know how to use Microsoft Word. Don’t roll your eyes. However, if you don’t happen to have Microsoft Office on your computer, University students can get Office 365 for free in the University webstore at webstore.illinois.edu, which is a small kind of miracle. 

Office 365 includes Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Outlook and OneNote. The last few versions of Word, in particular, come with a “Focus View” that you may have never realized existed. In the lower lefthand corner of your screen when a Word doc is open, there’s a row of buttons. The rightmost one will open into a simplified, full screen version of Word, with just your doc set against an all black background and a toolbar above it, furnished with the basics like fonts, paragraph styles and a save button.

2. OmmWriter

No matter your major, you’re going to have to write a paper at some point during your time at the University. Available for Mac, PC, and iPad, Ommwriter is the hipster’s answer to Microsoft Word. 

The app opens full screen with a number of different backgrounds that allow you to write into a dusky forest or a snowy afternoon instead of a menacing white document. You can also listen to accompanying nature sounds and/or turn your laptop into a typewriter with keyboard clicks — the app even informs you upon opening that it’s a “better experience with headphones.” 

All documents written on it can be saved in any standard format, like pdf or .doc. It’s available for purchase and download at ommwriter.com, but you can pay as much or as little for it as you want. Their $4.11 is just a recommendation, but it’s worth that and then some.

3. StayFocusd

For those of you who think the above two cheats are for amateur hour, this one is for you. The only catch is you have to use Google Chrome for it to work its magic. Chrome allows users to install apps, and my favorite app by far is StayFocusd. 

StayFocusd allows users to block websites on a blocked sites list on the days you choose, either for a certain number of hours or during a set time frame. If you try to unblock the site, StayFocusd will show you multiple threatening — but humorous — pop-up messages. 

Around exams, I resort to StayFocusd’s “Nuclear Mode,” which blocks sites with no way of turning off the block until your allotted time is up. There’s also a “Require Challenge” setting, which requires you to pass a pretty tough typing test to be allowed into a blocked site. Search “StayFocusd” in the Google Play store to get it for free.

The bottom line is this: None of these cheats will truly eliminate procrastination, but they’re all decent tools to combat it. And if you end up on Buzzfeed at the end of the day, you’ll at least feel a little more guilty about it. Tweet: Fight procrastination with three easy tech cheats. | link

Maggie is a junior in LAS.
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