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5 Ways To Create Better Study Habits With Tech

5 Ways To Create Better Study Habits With Tech

Studying and technology are quickly becoming synonymous. If you’re looking for something to help you with your classes there’s a fair chance that there’s a website, tool, programme or app somewhere to help you. Joel Lee’s recent article has some particular tools that can help you study, from productivity to research:

It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but I know a few friends who are still studying their way towards graduation. It amazes me how many tools currently exist out there to aid in the study process – tools that I would’ve loved to make use of back before I earned my degree. Unfortunately, my time for improved study habits is over, but you can still benefit!

Technology is wonderful like that. If there’s a lack, then someone will find a way to create technology that works to help alleviate some of that lack. Can’t focus or concentrate? There’s a tool for that. Can’t seem to keep your due dates organized? No problem, technology can help. Distracted by the Internet? Yup, technology can save the day there, too. All it takes is a little bit of know-how and a little bit of setup and your study productivity will skyrocket in no time.

1) Keep Mental Clarity With Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique: An Overview

    I once heard that it’s better to study in small bursts with short breaks in between because it helps your mind retain information. The theory behind it had something to do with the fact that you’re more likely to remember the beginnings and ends of an event while the middle can get a bit fuzzy. Whether or not that’s true, my personal experience does say that short study bursts are more effective than long cramming sessions.

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    That’s where the Pomodoro Technique steps in. The basic gist of the technique is that you set a timer for 20 minutes and work (or study) as hard as you can for that time length. When the timer ends, you’ll get a 10 minute break. You alternate between study and breaks throughout the day and you should see an improvement in your study habits.

    We’ve covered plenty of Pomodoro Technique apps and programs that were designed to help you stay on track. I’ve been using this technique for years and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s amazing. Give it try and see how it works for you.

    2) Conquer Tasks With To-Do Lists

    I feel like I’m tooting an ancient horn every time I mention to-do lists in the same breath as productivity, but there’s a reason why to-do lists are so popular: they work! Perhaps it has something to do with the psychological satisfaction of clearing a list one by one until you have nothing left. It’s wildly cathartic.

    A lot of people use to-do lists to help them remember what they need to buy from the grocery store or something along those lines, but to-do lists can be helpful for studying. The key is to break down big projects into smaller and smaller tasks until each task can’t be broken down any further. Then, one by one, you go through and complete them, all the while ticking them off of the list. One huge benefit is that those huge projects seem less daunting when you’ve broken them down.

    For example, maybe you need to “study for the final” that you have next week. Break that down: you actually have to “study chapters 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10″ and “review lab reports.” Well, those can be broken down even further: “read pages 90 to 100, 100 to 120, review lab report 3, review lab report 4,” and so on and so forth. This way, studying is more methodical, even seems doable now.

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    My recommendations for to-do lists include Do It (Tomorrow)Any.DO, and Todo.txt.

    tomorrow-main

      3) Look Up Strange Terms With OneLook.com

      Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 3.00.05 PM

        For those of you involved in high-level studies with words or concepts that are difficult to parse, OneLook might be the site for you. In layman’s terms, OneLook is a dictionary, but it’s an advanced dictionary like none you’ve ever seen. I thought I’d seen everything the Internet currently has to offer, but OneLook definitely took me by surprise.

        The basic lookup involves a search query for a word or phrase, then OneLook will spit back a definition. If you want to include or exclude specific dictionaries, you can do that. There is also the option to search translations instead of dictionaries. But coolest part, if you ask me, is the reverse dictionary, which takes a described concept and returns potential words that encapsulate that concept.

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        Another great feature of OneLook is its advanced searching. You aren’t just limited to looking up specific words like in other online dictionaries. Instead, you can search with wildcards, placeholders, search for words with similar meanings, words with similar concepts, phrases that fit an acronym, and more. Once you learn the intricacies, you’ll have a powerful tool in your hands.

        4) Temporarily Block Websites

        Temporarily Block Websites

          It’s funny how some of our greatest distractions today are technology, which was meant to make life easier and more efficient. Smartphones, computers, and the Internet can put up a roadblock when you need to study. Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue and protects you against technology: timed programs that temporarily block some, or all, websites so you are forced to study.

          The one I recommend most is a Windows desktop program called FocalFilter. With it, you can manage a list of sites to block. All you have to do is type in a bunch of websites, set a block duration, then click the button. This tool will block access to these websites for the duration on all major browsers: IE, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Sorry, Opera users. Highly recommended.

          For browser-specific alternatives, you can check out LeechBlock for Firefox and StayFocusd for Chrome.

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          5) Use Nag Reminders to Remember to Study

          Another big problem when I used to have when I was a student was that I’d take a short break and get completely side-tracked by whatever I ended up doing on break. “Just a quick glance at a website” turned into three hours of browsing and an aching back. “One more game” turned into five more games and suddenly all of my study time was gone.

          If you run something like the Pomodoro Technique above, then the frequent alarm buzzes will minimize this risk and keep you on track. However, if you don’t like Pomodoro, then what can you use? Fortunately, there are a number of “nag reminder” tools out there that will periodically remind you to do whatever it is you set as the reminder.

          A good one that I like is PesterMe, which happens to be really old (last updated in 2006) but still works well for me (at least on Windows 7). It sits in the background and displays a popup when the reminder duration runs out. For alternatives, you can check out these three reminder tools which are meant to remind you to take breaks, but you can flip them around and use them to remind you to stop breaking.

          Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 4.35.46 PM

            Conclusion

            The general consensus, at least in my circles, is that technology is a big hindrance to study. Websites, email, instant messengers, and video games might as well be flashing neon signs that point you away from work. However, hopefully the tools above will not only convince you that technology can help reduce distractions, but maybe they’ll actually help you with your studies.

            What do you use to help you study? How do you fight distractions and keep focused? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

            5 Ways Tech Can Help You Foster Better Study Habits | Make Use Of

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            Siobhan Harmer

            Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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            Published on September 25, 2020

            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

            When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

            VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

            How to Choose a VPN

            • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
            • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
            • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
            • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
            • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

            Why You Should Trust Us

            Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

            Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

            1. NordVPN

            The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

            Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

            NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

            In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

            NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

            Buy this VPN.

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            2. ExpressVPN

            ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

            Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

            Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

            Buy this VPN.

            3. Surf Shark

            With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

            Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

            The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

            Buy this VPN.

            4. CyberGhost

            Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

            The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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            What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

            Buy this VPN.

            5. IPVanish

            IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

            IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

            Buy this VPN.

            6. Private Internet Access

            Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

            One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

            In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

            These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

            Buy this VPN.

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            7. Hotspot Shield

            Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

            Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

            Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

            Buy this VPN.

            8. TunnelBear

            As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

            The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

            Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

            Buy this VPN.

            9. Norton

            Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

            As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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            Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

            Buy this VPN.

            10. StrongVPN

            The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

            StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

            As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

            Buy this VPN.

            Bottom Line

            Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

            With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

            We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

            Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

            Reference

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